It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Dodgers are struggling. As of right now, they’re 30-40 and the only team in the NL West below .500. However, nobody else in the division is setting the world afire, as the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks are just 39-33.
It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that the Dodgers could make a run at the division crown, but they’ll need some help to do that.
Midseason acquisitions would go a long way towards shoring up the roster, but a team that’s going for it now the way the Dodgers are doesn’t usually deal from its big league roster. They also don’t have much in the way of assets anymore, and what they do have is mostly on the farm. That being said, the big league roster is full of guys who are not assured of roster spots going forward and could be dealt at the July 31 deadline.
Contending teams tend to trade for bullpen arms, not get rid of them, so it’s unlikely that Belisario will go anywhere. Factor in his poor performance (4.78 ERA in 32 innings) and it’s difficult to imagine any widespread interest in him. However, he is a non-integral part of the team so if he is moved, it wouldn’t be shocking.
Greinke is in the first year of a six-year, $159 million contract that he signed this past offseason, so there’s no way he gets moved anywhere.
Guerrier’s situation is similar to Belisario’s, except his performance hasn’t been quite as bad (3.45 ERA and nearly half a base runner fewer per inning). However, it’s equally difficult to see a scenario in which any other team has interest in him, so he will likely stick around the Dodgers.
He is a valuable part of a bullpen that needs all the help it can get; however, the emergence of Paco Rodriguez in a similar role and for fewer dollars has made Howell somewhat redundant so a trade wouldn’t be out of the question if the Dodgers could get something they needed back.
The Dodgers need bullpen help and will certainly not be trading their best reliever any time soon. Jansen, who has posted a 2.57 ERA in 35 innings thus far, will be coming up for arbitration for the first time this offseason; this caliber of asset is not one that a contending team trades away.
It’s not out of the question that League could turn it around, right? In 27 innings, he has a 5.33 ERA and has somehow struck out only 11% of the batters he’s faced, so right now that seems an impossible scenario. But a few good outings could convince a big-market team with bullpen needs (like, say, the Dodgers) to take a chance on him.
The problem, though, is his contract. It’s exorbitant for such a poor reliever, as he’s owed $7.5 million each of the next two years, and teams just don’t want to take on that kind of salary in the bullpen. The Dodgers are really the only team that has shown a willingness to be that blasé about money, and they clearly already have him.
Here we run into a similar issue that faced Belisario and Guerrier. Moylan is a serviceable pitcher who is more well-known for being Australian than anything he’s done on the mound, and his pre-free agency status gives him more value to a contender than anyone else—which makes him more likely to remain with the team than be dealt.
Rodriguez has been a valuable asset out of the bullpen, and his age (22) and handedness (left) make him an attractive target. However, as has been the theme with relievers in this piece, the Dodgers are far more likely to want to keep him than get rid of him.
Ryu has been a pleasant surprise this year (6-3, 2.96 ERA), establishing himself as the second-best starting pitcher behind the dominant Kershaw. The Dodgers will not be trading him.
It certainly seems unlikely that Withrow would be dealt. He’s a rookie who made his debut last week, isn’t an extremely highly touted prospect, and hasn’t pitched particularly well since being called up.
However, he isn’t going to be a sticking point in any trade if someone wanted him, so there’s certainly a chance he could be dealt.
Beckett has been awful this year, posting a 5.19 ERA in eight starts before going on the DL with a strained left groin and numbness in his right hand.
But given that there are concerns that his career might be over, it’s unlikely he’s even back before the trade deadline, which would make him nearly impossible to deal even if someone wanted to take on his contract.
Capuano’s return from the DL went well, as he allowed zero runs in six innings. His season line leaves a bit to be desired, though, with a 4.62 ERA in 39 innings.
But he has proven in the past that he is a capable big league starter, and his career ERA+ of 97 (slightly below league average) backs that up.
In spring training, the Dodgers had a surplus of arms, and while injuries have derailed much of that depth, there remains some leeway with Beckett, Fife, Lilly, and/or Capuano all hopefully available to slot in behind Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu.
Therefore, if the Dodgers are presented with an offer for Capuano that offers an upgrade somewhere else (left side of the infield?), they would likely have no problem dealing him.
Many of the same things said about Capuano could be said about Lilly, except that his precipitous fall is much more ominous. He too has struggled (23 innings, 5.09 ERA), but he is nearly three years older and has battled a ton of injuries recently (made only eight starts last year).
The injuries and depth concerns have eased the Dodgers’ willingness to trade, and Lilly’s lack of performance has certainly raised questions in other front offices, but GM Ned Colletti will not be hesitant to move Lilly should the right deal present itself.
The Dodgers are not shopping Ellis by any means—and there really haven’t been any recent rumors that the team would upgrade at catcher anyway. However, it is one of the few spots that the team doesn’t have a large financial commitment, so if a high-priced catcher were to go on the market (Joe Mauer was thrown around last season), you could see a move being made.
There haven’t been many Mauer rumors at this point of the year, though, as the Twins have turned their farm system around in a hurry.
Ellis has had a fine season so far (.257/.354/.355), but nonetheless isn’t a great player. The Dodgers would have an opportunity to upgrade here.
I give him similar odds to Ellis of being traded, and for much the same reason. Like Ellis, Federowicz is a capable catcher who could be part of a larger, as-yet-undetermined trade for an overpriced veteran.
He isn’t as good as Ellis is at this point in their various careers, but he is younger and cost-controlled and so might have equivalent value.
These odds are probably too high, given that there is basically no scenario in which any other team would take a 29 year old who had never posted an OPS+ above 56 before last year.
However, if he was involved in some sort of dump—or if he was designated for assignment and the Dodgers worked out a trade if someone claimed him—Colletti would be happy to let go of a player who has an OPS+ of 1.
This relates very well to the earlier discussions around AJ Ellis and Federowicz. Ellis is a capable second baseman (.306 OBP) who has certainly seen better days but still provides some value to a team. His contract isn’t guaranteed for next year, and the Dodgers will be looking to throw their financial clout around if anyone places a second baseman on the trade block (Chase Utley?).
If a team just needs a stopgap in return—or if after a trade, someone else wants Ellis—there are very reasonable circumstances in which he could not be in a Dodger uniform after August 31.
The Dodgers just traded for Gonzalez last August and he has performed quite well for them, posting a .309/.367/.469 line and anchoring the middle of their lineup. He has five years at $21 million each season remaining on his contract after this one.
At this point in his career—and, most likely, at any point in his career—Hairston will not be the centerpiece of any trade. However, he is still serviceable with the bat (.657 OPS) and he provides value with his ability to play multiple positions, so he could be a throw-in as part of a larger trade.
Much the same as Hairston, Punto won’t be the focal point of a deal. However, just last year he was a throw-in utility man in the larger Crawford/Gonzalez/Beckett deal.
The fact that he is both younger (35 to Hairston’s 37) and better (.656 OPS) makes him a more attractive option.
At this point, I can’t imagine anyone knows what to make of Uribe’s 2013 season. After posting an OPS+ of 56 and 50 in 2011 and 2012, respectively, he is at 119 so far this season—which would be the highest of his career if he kept up this pace.
Given the Dodgers’ lack of alternatives at third base, Uribe doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. However, as third is the final spot (catcher and second base being the other two) at which the Dodgers don’t have a large investment, if someone becomes available, Uribe could be shipped the other way as a fill-in.
Castellanos is a middling prospect, as Kevin Goldstein ranked him ninth in the Dodger system before last season (subscription required). However, he has potential as a fourth outfielder or bench bat, so it’s possible he’d be included in a larger deal.
Ethier is the huge question mark. I’ve argued before that he should be traded, and the emergence of Yasiel Puig simply reinforces that fact. However, he’s struggled so badly that one wonders what kind of trade value he even has.
He’s overpaid in the first place, scheduled to make $85 million through 2018—which will be his age 36 season. He’s also having the worst statistical season of his career: each of his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage would be the lowest marks he’s ever put up.
I still believe Ethier has some value in the baseball world, but not enough to make me confident that Colletti will be able to get anything of value for him come July.
Puig, who is taking the baseball world by storm since his call up, is a rookie whose contract runs through 2018. Combining that fact with his performance means he’ll be going nowhere.
As with any utility man, Schumaker’s significance in trades comes from his versatility and cost.
So far this year, he’s played roughly the same number of innings at second base as in the outfield (153), with over a third of his outfield innings coming in center. He isn’t good enough to be an everyday player at this point of his career (82 OPS+), but he can provide adequate production at multiple positions.
He’s signed for only $1.5 million this season, so he’d be a cost-effective option going the other way in a larger trade. He’s not going to be a key part of a midseason deal, but he could have value as a throw-in a la Nick Punto last year.
Although I find it difficult to believe there would be any takers for Crawford’s contract, it’s possible that some combination of Puig’s performance and a lack of interest in Ethier inspires the Dodgers to explore trading their left fielder.