At this point, it’s probably a given that the Los Angeles Dodgers will make at least a few moves at the 2023 MLB summer trade deadline. The big question, though, is whether the team will make a big splash having an immediate impact.
Several weeks ago, many fans felt that it could take a little time for the 2023 version of the Dodgers to develop. However, as the 50-game mark of the campaign approaches, it’s probably safe to say this is one of the most inconsistent teams we’ve seen in recent years. Although Los Angeles is barely holding on to first place in the NL West, it’s still hard to say how the rest of the field will shape up as the season progresses.
Regardless, the 2023 Dodgers certainly don’t have the feel of a club that blew past the MLB tax threshold over the winter to sign veteran outfielder David Peralta as a bench piece.
No question, the club has had its fair share of injuries, with some of the biggest blows being Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Daniel Hudson and most recently, Julio Urias. Even with the struggles to the pitching staff, the biggest problem might be the offense.
It appears like the team might be giving youngsters like James Outman and Miguel Vargas as much time as they need to develop, which is fine. The problem is that a whopping six regular players on the active roster are batting .240 or lower. The team’s combined .233 batting average is good enough for 23rd in the majors and second-to-last in the National League.
And if you really want to talk about inconsistency, Max Muncy could be the first MLB player ever to OPS over 1.000 while batting below the Mendoza line. Even if Gavin Lux is healthy, he wouldn’t be able to save this offense if he had his best year as a professional.
Still, at full health, one would think that front-office boss Andrew Friedman and his crew will be very active at this year’s trade deadline. If Urias and May come back at full force — which might be a big question mark for May — there still might not be enough horsepower in the rotation. There’s no way to tell how effective Syndergaard can be moving forward, and it’s probably safe to assume that Clayton Kershaw will make a visit to the injured list, whether for an actual injury or a phantom rest period.
Right now, the Dodgers are in the middle of the National League pack at seventh place with a 4.29 overall team ERA, and it’s difficult for most fans to remember when the team was anywhere outside the Top 5 in recent years. The combined bullpen ERA is 4.70, which is the worst mark in the National League aside from division rival San Francisco.
As far as additions go at the trade deadline, it’s tough to even guess where to start. Even if Hudson comes back — and an even darker dark horse with Blake Treinen — the club needs some effective relievers. Aside from Evan Phillips and maybe Caleb Ferguson, there’s nobody throwing remotely close to being trustworthy in high leverage spots.
Should the Dodgers wait for Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove to regain health and see if they have enough firepower to contribute as legit starters down the stretch? Can Mookie Betts catch fire and carry the offense with Freddie Freeman? Can the team count on guys like Chris Taylor, Jayson Heyward and David Peralta to be solid contributors down the stretch?
Or, should the team blow past the salary cap even more and take a chance on a pricy deal at the summer deadline?
We should know in less than 10 weeks.