The trade season has started, with last week’s Scott Feldman-Jake Arrieta swap kicking off what is always an exciting time. The Dodgers, who are bound to be key players because of their extensive resources, got in on the action themselves that same day, as they flipped Matt Guerrier for Carlos Marmol.
Over the weekend, the Dodgers addressed the one need it seemed clear they were going to target—starting pitching—with the acquisition of Ricky Nolasco. But there are still rumors floating around the team, and some of them even have some chance of coming to pass.
Ethier’s potential trade is the most talked-about, and for good reason. With Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp’s recent returns from the disabled list and the emergence of Yasiel Puig, the team has four outfielders for three spots. And with the amount of money still owed to Crawford and Kemp, and the fact that GM Ned Colletti would be run out of Los Angeles if he dealt Puig, Ethier is the logical odd man out.
However, Ethier himself signed a five-year, $85 million extension last season, and the deal is backloaded: It escalates for each of the next four years, meaning the outfielder is still owed about $69 million after this season ends. This amount of money will make any team reluctant to take him on, especially given his struggles this year (.724 OPS).
In addition, Kemp just went back on the DL after coming out of a recent game against the Giants with an apparent shoulder injury—the same shoulder he had surgery on in the offseason. If he is out of commission for more than three weeks, July 31 will come and go—with Ethier likely manning center field every day.
The injury also makes it more difficult for the Dodgers to go forward with just three outfielders, because whether or not Kemp can be counted on at all this season is a legitimate question.
You have to expect that in some form or another, the Dodgers will make a move relating to their bullpen. They already traded for Marmol with the hope that he would rediscover some of his skills. But that’s unlikely to be their only move.
They’d been linked with Jesse Crain, but his recent trip to the DL means that he won’t be dealt for a couple weeks until he returns and proves he’s healthy.
Now, rumors have surfaced that they have interest in Milwaukee's available relievers, including Mike Gonzalez, John Axford, and Francisco Rodriguez.
And even if they don't get one of the Brewers trio, there are always bullpen arms available, as this Ken Rosenthal story indicates. Given the Dodgers’ willingness to take on money, it should be relatively easy for them to acquire pitchers to aid their bullpen down the stretch.
The NL executive quoted in this New York Post article by Joel Sherman seems remarkably confident that Utley will be a Dodger sooner rather than later, and the “sooner” could be this trade deadline. Without more noise surrounding this move, it’s too speculative to say that it will happen with any certainty; but suffice to say, it makes perfect sense.
Mark Ellis, though solid, is unspectacular (.250/.300/.338) and one of the few Dodger regulars not locked in long-term. Utley would be a massive upgrade, assuming he can stay on the field, and the Dodgers have the spending capabilities to make the move happen.
The big hurdle for this deal is Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who is unwilling to admit that his team is no longer the contender that it once was. He is already on record as saying that he hopes Utley can finish his career in Philadelphia.
This is pure speculation, but until Juan Uribe’s startling resurgence this season, the Dodgers looked everywhere for a third baseman. They even gave Luis Cruz the job over Uribe coming out of spring training, a decision that proved disastrous.
As teams fall out of the race and we get closer to the trade deadline, third basemen who aren’t being mentioned right now could become available. If this does actually happen, bet on the Dodgers at least showing some interest.