Could Cliff Lee be calling Los Angeles his new home?
Don’t expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to make a major splash in this year’s trade market as they did last season. The acquisition of Ricky Nolasco two weeks ago will likely be their biggest move this season.
However, these are the Dodgers, who have proven over the past year that anything is possible while Guggenheim Baseball Management is cutting the checks.
As I mentioned in last Friday’s article, Los Angeles would do well to pry Cliff Lee and Chase Utley away from the struggling Philadelphia Phillies, losers of eight straight games. However, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro still insists that Utley is not available, while Lee could be had for the right price.
With Phillies insider Jim Salisbury writing that a team would have to “blow the Phillies away” with an offer to acquire Lee, that probably leaves the Dodgers out of the running.
A package including top prospects Joc Pederson, Zach Lee and/or Chris Reed would have to be enticing to Philadelphia. But it may not be enough to seal the deal. If Utley can’t be acquired in the deal, Los Angeles would be crazy to surrender all three of those players for just Lee.
The latest buzz surrounding the Dodgers has them as the favorites to sign former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson to strengthen their bullpen. The 31-year-old right-hander is close to returning to action after undergoing Tommy John surgery last April.
He’s reportedly narrowed his list of teams to the Giants, Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates.
With the recent Carlos Marmol trade already proving to be a bust, Wilson could address the Dodgers’ need for another reliable right-hander in the seventh and eighth innings.
Kevin Gregg of the Chicago Cubs is another right-handed relief pitcher that should be on the Dodgers’ radar, especially now that Jesse Crain has been dealt from the Chicago White Sox to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Los Angeles is not as involved in major trade talk as they were last season, primarily because they don’t need to be.
While the team was just starting to be decimated by injuries at this time in 2012, this year’s team is now relatively healthy after some bad luck early in the season. Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford have both returned from extended absences, and only Matt Kemp is still struggling to stay off the disabled list.
The Dodgers are also headed in the right direction in the standings, another contrast with last year’s team.
On June 20, 2012, Los Angeles was a major-league-best 42-27. However, the Dodgers went just 44-49 the rest of the season, finishing with a disappointing 86-76 record.
They ended the season eight games behind the Giants, who went on to win the World Series.
Exactly one year later, the Dodgers were a season-worst 30-42 on June 20 of this year, trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks by 9.5 games in the NL West. Los Angeles has gone an amazing 26-6 since then—the second best record in the majors in that time—and now leads Arizona by 2.5 games.
With the Dodgers mostly healthy and the team playing up to the lofty expectations heaped upon it before the season, don’t be shocked if all remains fairly quiet on the trade front.