Editorial Note – I wrote this before the Buehler injury.
The 2018 Amateur Draft is now over. All that is left is the signing of the draft picks. The Dodgers did not select a high school player in Round 11 indicating to me that they expect the top 10 to be close to the bonus pool + 5%. There will be some savings with picks #9 and #10 as they are college seniors. Regardless of how good these players may or not become, none of them will be able to help the team this year.
ZIPS has updated their projections for 2018, and has projected the Dodgers to now win 85 and win the NL West by two games over the DBacks and Rockies, and 4 games over the Giants. All you really hope for is a chance. Is the current roster good enough to make the Dodgers favored in any playoff series, much less three? The Dodger starting pitching is a mess right now, and the bullpen is not much better. Once Kershaw, Maeda, Hill, and Ryu return, can FAZ really trust that they will be able to stay healthy for the remainder of the year? Is Wood healthy? That is 5 questionable starters. Yes, Buehler and Stripling have been outstanding for a short period. Will it continue? Stewart shows no signs of being a viable option as a starter. How injured is Dennis Santana? Will he be able to help in 2018? Caleb Ferguson is my favorite minor league player, but it is very much a question as to whether he is ready for prime time. Manny Banuelos? Guillermo Moscoso? Daniel Corcino? There are not a lot of options in the current organization that can readily and reliably step in.
Relief is also a concern. Outside of Jansen, now that Stripling is in the rotation, there is not a consistently reliable member of the bullpen. Right now the one non Jansen reliever that has pitched consistently well has been Erik Goeddel. But Goeddel is no Brandon Morrow, the one player the team was not able to replace. Alexander and Fields have both had good games and not so good games. Hudson has a rubber arm and with the bullpen as it is, it helps to have someone like Hudson just available for an inning or two. Baez is Baez. Garcia and Paredes are the two current relievers that are in LA from the OKC shuttle. Liberatore and Venditte just joined the ML roster from the shuttle today with Santana going on the DL with a rotator cuff strain, and Brock Stewart optioned back to OKC. It is unlikely that either Sborz or Broussard are ready enough to eliminate someone from the 40 man.
Offensively, Kemp has made up for the loss of Seager’s bat. Muncy is proving to be a viable option for plug and play at 1B and 3B, although not a GG defensively. He has played 2B in the past, and he can play corner OF if need be. Joc is having a resurgence. CT3, Puig, and Bellinger are getting over early season slumps. JT needs time to fully recover from a broken wrist, but it is critical for him to stay in the lineup even with more than ideal days off. Grandal should continue with his power, good defense, excellent framing, if not a reliable batting average. The one consistently weak spot offensively has been 2B. Logan Forsythe is generally reliable defensively, but truly not offensively. Breyvic Valera, Tim Locastro, and Donovan Solano could be replacements, but none have been given a legit opportunity to earn the role, indicating that FAZ and Roberts plan to go with Logan.
The Dodgers are running out of viable options in the farm system for this year. There are certainly no difference makers. The three players at OKC who are on the 40 who may be able to help are Alex Verdugo, Andrew Toles, and Tim Locastro. With Tim Locastro playing more in the OF, he is more readily identified as a utility player, and FAZ seems happy with Kike’ Hernandez as the utility. With the ML Dodgers OF of Kemp, Joc, Puig, and Cody when Muncy is 1B, there is no place for Verdugo or Toles at this time.
If the Dodgers are going to get help for 2018, they are going to need to hope that the injured heal properly, quickly, and fully. OR, they are going to need to go outside the organization. The season is still relatively early, but it still looks like a picture is emerging in the AL. NYY, Boston, Cleveland, Seattle, Houston, and LAA seem to be the only teams who can legitimately make the playoffs. Both the Tigers and Twins may be within 5 games of a playoff via the Division title, but they are nearly 10 games behind the wild card team leaders. Neither the Tigers nor Twins seem to have the players capable of challenging the Indians over a 162 game season. Oakland may technically still be viable, but I do not see them as having the horsepower to go for a 162 game schedule. They are likely a year away from genuinely contending again.
In the NL, 12 of the 15 teams are within 5 games of a potential playoff spot. Only the Reds, Marlins, and Mets seem on the outside looking in. The Mets have sent out signals that they will consider moving Thor or deGrom for the “right” price. Could the Dodgers make an offer to entice one of the co-aces to LA?
Other starting pitchers who may be available are:
JA Happ – Toronto
Cole Hamels – Texas
Bartolo Colon – Texas
Danny Duffy – KC
James Shields – Chisox
Ervin Santana – Twins
Jake Odorizzi – Twins
Michael Fulmer – Tigers
Chris Archer – Rays
Tyson Ross – San Diego
Dan Straily- Marlins
Matt Harvey – Reds
Position players that may become available are:
Manny Machado – Orioles
Jed Lowrie – A’s
JT Realmuto – Marlins
Mike Moustakas – KC
Scooter Gennett – Reds
Relief Pitchers that may become available are:
Brad Brach – Orioles
Zach Britton – Orioles
Kelvin Herrera – KC
Jeurys Familia – Mets
Francisco Liriano – Tigers
IMO, the DBacks are the most likely landing spot for Machado. They do not have a deep farm, but a package starting with RHP Jon Duplantier, C Daulton Varsho, and RHP Taylor Widener would get the conversation going. The DBacks have been heavily investing in the 25 man over the last couple of years so they might as well go all in for 2018. Their principal competition may come from the Phillies who have not been shy letting teams know they are in the Machado market to stay and have the farm system to play. The only link to the Dodgers seems to be the fans. Machado is not someone that FAZ has gone after at the deadline.
I would think that the Nationals would be the logical landing for Realmuto, but the Rockies also seem to be a potential landing spot. Certainly Machado and Realmuto should be enough to make up a 2 game difference in the final projected records. What could the Dodgers do to offset those acquisitions?
One rumor article identified the following potential trade partners:
Machado to the DBacks
Zach Britton to the Braves
Jed Lowrie to the Red Sox
Brad Brach to the Indians
J.T. Realmuto to the Rockies
Kelvin Herrera to the Astros
Jeurys Familia to the Angels
Chris Archer to the Brewers
Michael Fulmer to the Yankees
Cole Hamels to the Phillies
Dan Straily to the Mariners
Francisco Liriano to the Mariners
Mike Moustakas to the Cardinals
Scooter Gennett to the Nationals
Oh yeah… they also identified the Dodgers being a landing spot for Big Sexy, Bartolo Colon. Their supposition is that he will give innings, will not cost much in prospects, and not put them in danger of the luxury tax. They seem to be reading the tea leaves with an understanding of what FAZ has done at the trade deadline.
The Dodgers have enough potential lottery picks that they can use to get someone who can help in 2018, but they may be just as inclined to see what happens this year and wait for everyone to heal and see how they can supplement the team for next year. I am inclined to think of the latter as I am sure that FAZ believes that with a healthy Kershaw, Hill, Buehler, Ryu they have enough starting pitching to compete, but without them, there are not enough available starting pitchers to make them competitive. If Thor or deGrom are indeed available, I would absolutely consider them as potential help in 2018, but deGrom is team controlled for 2 more years and Thor for 3 more years. That is where I would concentrate if I wanted to make a big move. Big Sexy is not where I would go for help, but I can certainly see why the authors would think that to be viable.