Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Best Trade Alternatives to Cole Hamels

Geoff Ratliff@@geoffratliffContributor IIIJuly 30, 2012

Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Best Trade Alternatives to Cole Hamels

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers have been mentioned in a number of possible trade scenarios over the past few weeks. But with a little more than 24 hours left before tomorrow’s 4 p.m. ET, non-waiver MLB trade deadline, Los Angeles is still looking for a starting pitcher to fill out there rotation.

    The Dodgers made a big splash last week when they acquired former All-Star Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins. That moved has paid immediate dividends with Ramirez going 7-for-21 with a home run, six RBI and five runs scored through his first five games with L.A.

    That added production helped lead the Dodgers to a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants over the weekend, leaving the team in a tie for first place in the NL West.

    With Cole Hamels remaining in Philadelphia (h/t USA Today) and Zack Greinke headed to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (h/t ESPN), the two biggest names amongst available starting pitchers are both officially off the market. But here are five alternatives that could still greatly improve the Dodgers’ starting rotation.

Ryan Dempster, RHP, Chicago Cubs

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    Chicago Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster’s trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers has appeared to be imminent, ever since he blocked a trade to the Atlanta Braves (h/t Fox Sports) more than a week ago. He’s made no secret of the fact that he’d prefer to be in Los Angeles, but the Dodgers and Cubs have been unable to agree on a package for the soon-to-be free agent.

    With Chicago’s options limited by Dempster’s 10-5 rights (giving any MLB player with 10 years of service time and five with his current team the right to block any trade), it’s likely that he eventually gets his wish and ends up in a Dodgers uniform by tomorrow afternoon.

Matt Garza, RHP, Chicago Cubs

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    If the Dodgers are unable to agree on a deal to acquire Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs RHP Matt Garza would be the next best option. With trade talks between Los Angeles and Chicago proving to be difficult (CSN Chicago), the Dodgers could turn their attention to acquiring the talented righty.

    Garza’s numbers with the Cubs aren’t great this year, but pitching in Wrigley field doesn’t help at all. He has elite stuff and is battle-tested after pitching well against AL East competition during his three seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays

    Moving to a more pitcher-friendly home stadium in Chavez Ravine and not having the pressure of being the No. 1 starter could be exactly what Garza needs to unlock his full potential. At just 28 years old, it’s not too late for that dream to come true.

Josh Johnson, RHP, Miami Marlins

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    Miami Marlins RHP Josh Johnson is the biggest name still left on the trade market, but his value was not helped by yesterday’s uneven start against the San Diego Padres. With about 15 major league scouts on hand, Johnson gave up only two hits and one earned run in just five innings, but he also walked six batters. 

    Johnson injury history and loss of velocity (from 95 down to 93 this year) have been causes for concern for most suitors, and it looks likely that he’ll remain in Miami. But if any team can afford to take the risk, it’s the Dodgers, assuming they could work out a deal similar to the Hanley Ramirez trade where they take on more salary in exchange for a lesser prospect. 

James Shields, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Behind Miami’s Josh Johnson, James Shields might be the next best talent on the trade market, but the Tampa Bay Rays have not been committal about his availability. If the Rays do decide to move him, the Dodgers would very much be a contender for his services. 

    The biggest obstacle to Los Angeles making a strong play for Shields is Tampa’s asking price. According to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, the Rays would want a haul better than what the Milwaukee Brewers received for Zack Greinke, since Shields is under team control through the 2014 season. The Dodgers don’t have a great farm system, limiting the package that they could offer.

Paul Maholm, LHP, Chicago Cubs

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    Cubs LHP Paul Maholm has joined teammates Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza as potential trade candidate by tomorrow’s deadline and the Dodgers might be a good fit. The 30-year-old former top 10 draft pick has put together a solid season, and has been lights out over his last six starts, going 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA.

    Maholm has stated that he would prefer to remain in Chicago, and the Dodgers already have three lefties in their rotation in ace Clayton Kershaw, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly. But if all of their other options fail, Maholm wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize for Los Angeles.