A quarter of the season is in the books, and most Dodgers fans would agree that their team has played to about a quarter of its potential.
One of the most popular picks to represent the National League in the World Series this season, Los Angeles began the week just one game over .500.
The Boys in Blue have not won a series since sweeping the Minnesota Twins almost two weeks ago and own a disappointing 8-12 record at home.
The trade deadline is less than three months away. While a lot can change between now and the end of the July, general manager Ned Colletti may want to start thinking about potential deals in case his team can't find a way to right the ship.
Trade an Outfielder for Bullpen Help
When the Dodgers promoted Yasiel Puig last season, it meant there would be four highly paid outfielders for only three outfield spots. Skeptics wondered how manager Don Mattingly would handle the situation which, due to injuries, didn't actually come to fruition until this season.
So far, Mattingly has settled an outfield rotation that favors certain matchups while giving all four outfielders multiple opportunities to start each week.
Having Puig, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford available off the bench any given day is certainly a luxury. But those four are all good enough—and paid well enough—to warrant full-time action.
That's why it might make sense to ship one of them off in exchange for some bullpen help.
It's no secret that Los Angeles relievers have struggled this season. The Dodgers' bullpen has compiled a 3.94 ERA with 11 losses and five blown saves in 17 chances following Sunday's loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Here are two possible trades that may help ease the bullpen concerns:
Andre Ethier for Luke Gregerson
This trade would send Ethier back to the team that originally drafted him 11 years ago, while giving him the opportunity to start every day in Oakland. The A's have a hole in right field as Josh Reddick has underwhelmed this season to the tune of a .214 batting average with just one home run.
The Dodgers would receive a quality right-handed relief pitcher in Gregerson, who is currently a key contributor to a top-five bullpen in terms of opponent batting average. His personal 2.37 ERA so far this season is even lower than his fine career ERA of 2.88.
The former San Diego Padre has experience in the National League West and could help spell a Los Angeles bullpen that has already pitched the second-most innings in all of baseball.
The potential snag lies in the financials of the deal. Ethier is owed about $10 million more than Gregerson this year. It doesn't help that the A's have been a notoriously frugal franchise.
However, Oakland's ownership has shown a recent willingness to reach deeper into its pockets, as the team's 2014 payroll is the highest it's been in 14 years.
Carl Crawford for Will Smith
Carl Crawford is another outfielder that the Dodgers may need to use as a trade chip. In exchange, Colletti would reel Will Smith into Hollywood. No, not that Will Smith. The Milwaukee Brewers' young reliever currently leads the majors in holds. His 25 strikeouts in just 17 innings pitched have led to a miniscule 0.52 ERA.
Unlike Kemp and Puig, Crawford did not originally sign with Los Angeles. It wasn't Colletti who offered Crawford his current contract that will pay him over $20 million this season.
The Dodgers acquired Crawford in the 2012 mega deal with the Boston Red Sox and thus might be more inclined to part ways with him come July.
Crawford's .255 average this season is nothing to write home about, especially considering his career average is .291. He's no longer the speed demon of years past and hasn't really gotten the opportunity to play the role of table-setter for the Dodgers this year due to the re-emergence of Dee Gordon.
Although Crawford's contract will be unattractive to suitors, Milwaukee's 2014 payroll is also the highest it's been in the 21st century. The Brewers have been a surprising team this year and surely believe they are contenders. Crawford's veteran presence may help fill an important void on the team.
If anything, he'll be an upgrade from the current right-field combo of Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl. In 66 combined at-bats, the two youngsters are hitting .196 with zero home runs and five runs batted in.
Trade an Outfielder for Infield Depth
The depth of the Dodgers' infield is the polar opposite of the outfield. Beyond established veterans Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe, there's not much to speak of.
Colletti always likes having a super utility infielder that isn't known for power but rather versatility. Last season, it was Nick Punto. This year, it's Justin Turner.
The only problem is that Turner hasn't been turning in much production when he gets a chance to play. He began the week hitting just .180 in 65 at bats.
Here are some potential deals that might solve issues surrounding the Dodgers' infield depth:
Andre Ethier and Chone Figgins for Adam Lind
The Blue Jays' Adam Lind might be a good fit in Los Angeles. What the Dodgers have been lacking in recent years is a powerful left-handed bat off the bench. Lind has been relegated to designated hitting duties with occasional starts at first base behind Edwin Encarnacion in Toronto. He hit 23 home runs last season, far more than the combined total of Dodgers' bench players in 2013.
Lind is off to a slower start this year, with just two home runs. Still, his .306 average is a bright spot along with his 118 home runs over the past five seasons.
While Toronto has a fully loaded outfield with Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista, Ethier could still make the occasional start like he is doing now with the Dodgers.
But with the designated hitter in the American League, he'd be guaranteed even more at-bats than he's receiving in Los Angeles.
Lind could be a fine backup to Adrian Gonzalez at first base, and he has outfield experience. Lind would essentially play Chone Figgins' current role, but with the added power from the left side—something that's been missing from Mattingly's bench. Figgins would simply be a throw-in.
Carl Crawford and Justin Turner for Conor Gillaspie and Matt Lindstrom
This trade with the Chicago White Sox would bring in both a left-handed bat off the bench along with a veteran relief pitcher. Conor Gillaspie, who hit 13 home runs last season, can play both corner infield positions. Juan Uribe's recent hamstring injury has raised even more questions about the Dodgers' lack of infield depth.
The Jerry Reinsdorf-owned White Sox would be able to handle Crawford's contract. This is assuming that Chicago is not one of the teams to which the outfielder can block a deal, per a stipulation in his contract.
The White Sox should be able to easily plug Crawford into their outfield shuffle. The team doesn't have any proven outfielders outside of Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo, although they will look to develop Adam Eaton when he returns from the disabled list.
Matt Lindstrom is currently closing out games for Chicago and has turned in a solid 2.81 ERA. Although he has blown three of eight save chances, the hard-throwing right-hander wouldn't be called upon to finish games in Los Angeles. Rather, he could be used in place of the struggling Brian Wilson.
It's no secret that the Dodgers have underwhelmed so far in 2014. Still, they are above .500 and not in last place like they were at this point a year ago. If there's a team that knows about flipping a switch, it's the one that went on a 42-8 run last season.
The Dodgers remain one of the most talented squads in the league and should be able to gather momentum sooner rather than later. It's not time for Colletti to pull the trigger on these panic trades just yet, but they should be considered if things don't turn around over the next few months.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.
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