Dodgers Trade Scenarios: L.A.'s 3 Biggest Needs at the Trade Deadline
I’ve established over the past few weeks that the Dodgers need to get busy before the trade deadline. Dodgers fans know it. The front office knows it. Every baseball fanatic knows it.
If this team is going to make it to the playoffs and make it past the National League Division Series, they must fortify their roster before the July 31 deadline.
Unlike in the past few weeks where we’ve been able to sit back and think about the trade deadline like a distant deadline for a school paper, we are now getting down to the wire.
The deadline is now eight days away.
The Dodgers’ front office’s recent lack of trade action with the trade deadline looming nearer has revealed to fans that the Blue Crew probably won’t be executing a high-profile deal this season.
Names like Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins have been called out as potential future Boys in Blue; however, the Dodgers don’t have enough expendable talent to make a viable trade for those players unless they can pull off a creative multiple-team deal.
Nevertheless, the Dodgers have visible voids that they must fill if they want to win the National League West and be a strong team going into the playoffs.
1. Third Baseman
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It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that Juan Uribe is hitting .186 with one home run, 13 runs batted-in, and a .238 on-base percentage.
What would surprise you, however, is that the Dodgers are paying the 33-year-old Dominican Republic native $8.3 million to do it.
Uribe had a career year with the 2010 Giants World Series team, on which he played a huge role, but has been on a steep decline since joining the Dodgers.
In addition to hitting .197 in the 127 games he had played with the Dodgers in the past two seasons, Uribe has been plagued by injuries and has generally contributed little to the team.
Jerry Hairston Jr. has done a decent job filling in for Uribe when he’s been injured or benched, but he seems to thrive in the role of occasional replacement rather than every day starter.
If the Dodgers are unable to make a trade for a solid third baseman, occasional minor league call-ups Ivan de Jesus and Elian Herrera would probably give veterans Uribe, Hairston and Adam Kennedy a run for their money at the position.
However, the Dodgers need a third baseman not for his defensive play but for his bat, and acquiring a power-hitting third baseman to their lineup would be huge.
Possible acquisitions: Chase Headley (SD), Trevor Plouffe (MIN), Mark Reynolds (BAL)
2. First Baseman
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James Loney may be a good defensive first baseman, but the Dodgers need more from him than two home runs and 25 RBI at this point in the season.
While Loney showed great potential in his first five seasons as a Dodger, he seems to have lost his competitive drive and has been extremely lackluster from the plate this season.
At this point, it’s unclear whether Loney’s season slump is truly a slump or whether it’s a larger indication of where his career is headed.
Baseball is a game of streaks and players do struggle, but it remains to be seen if Loney can get himself out of this rut.
That established, the Dodgers can’t take a gamble if they want to win the West and partake in postseason festivities.
Don Mattingly understands this, and subsequently has been working veteran Juan Rivera at first base to get him some experience there as well as to have his bat in the lineup.
Other than Rivera, the Dodgers don’t have anyone else who is a natural first baseman, so it would be more practical for them to sign a decent defensive first baseman with a big bat before the trade deadline.
Possible acquisitions: Michael Cuddyer (COL), Garrett Jones (PIT), Carlos Peña (TB), Ty Wiggington (PHI)
3. Middle Reliever
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As fits the trend of the past few years, the Dodgers bullpen has been shaky at times this season. While most of the Blue Crew’s relievers like Scott Elbert, Matt Guerrier and Josh Lindblom settled down as the season progressed, the team could use another experienced reliever in the pen to ensure key victories.
Closer Kenley Jansen has been decent for the Dodgers despite exhibiting a general lack of experience. Finding an experienced closer isn’t where the Dodgers front office should focus their attention in fortifying the bullpen, as it would be much more difficult to pick up an established closer than a middle reliever.
While a righty would suffice, the Dodgers need to go after a left-handed reliever. They currently have only one lefty in the bullpen (Scott Elbert), which may serve as a disadvantage in the playoffs.
Picking up a solid left-handed reliever would give the Dodgers more flexibility in the bullpen and would help Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt for the playoffs.
Possible acquisitions: Darren Oliver (TOR), José Mijares (KC), Scott Downs (LAA), Robbie Ross (TEX)
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The rumors about the Dodgers potentially signing a big-name star like Cole Hamels or Jimmy Rollins will go on until the trade deadline comes and will probably go unfulfilled.
There have been recent reports that detail the Dodgers’ interest in veteran starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, but the starting rotation isn’t where the Dodgers’ most desperate concerns lie.
Dempster may be a veteran replacement for Ted Lilly, whose return timetable is currently unknown, but the rotation could survive as is with young flame-thrower Nathan Eovaldi as the No. 5 starter.
The most desperate voids that the Dodgers need to fill are their corner infielders. The logistics of the front office finding a replacement at both positions are unlikely, but at least one position needs to be filled, as it’s clear that the Dodgers need another big bat in their lineup to supplement Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.
Although it may not be the main focus, adding another established lefty to the bullpen would give the Dodgers an edge for the rest of the season and, more importantly, for a potential postseason run.
As the trade deadline nears, the most important move the Dodgers front office can make would be acquiring a power-hitting corner infielder.
The rotation is fine. The Blue Crew needs another bat.