3 Blockbuster Deals Dodgers Should Propose

Nick Ostiller@@NickOstillerContributor IIJuly 18, 2014

3 Blockbuster Deals Dodgers Should Propose

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The MLB trade deadline is under two weeks away, which means teams are going to be faced with some tough decisions over the next few days.

    Contenders will be looking to bulk up for the stretch run, and bottom feeders may transition into sellers that provide those top squads with the ammunition they are looking for.

    As for the National League-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that is traditionally active at the end of July, the trade deadline could be an opportunity to make a big splash.

    General manager Ned Colletti will almost certainly be working the phones in search of potential deals that can help put some distance between his team and the second-place San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

    The following slides examine three realistic trades that the Dodgers could pull off in the next couple of weeks.

Trade Matt Kemp to Boston

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    USA TODAY Sports

    OF Matt Kemp, RHP Chris Perez and cash considerations for LHP Andrew Miller and RHP Anthony Ranaudo

    After a disastrous start to the 2014 campaign due in large part to inconsistent playing time, Matt Kemp finally received a full-time opportunity when Carl Crawford rolled his ankle at the end of May.

    Kemp, who was batting .205 on May 2, was able to develop a rhythm and has raised his average nearly 70 points since then.

    But with Crawford now back in the fold, the same issue that plagued Kemp and the Dodgers earlier in the season—too many outfielders—looks like it will rear its ugly head again.

    Kemp wants to be an everyday player. And with $21 million owed to him this season, he should be an everyday player.

    His agent, Dave Stewart, said this week that Kemp would be open to a trade if it meant guaranteed playing time, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

    The report mentions that the Boston Red Sox had expressed interest in Kemp during the offseason. The upcoming trade deadline might be a prime opportunity for the Dodgers to to re-open those talks with Boston.

    After all, the Red Sox have fallen on hard times since winning last season's World Series. Entering Friday night, they (43-52) are tied for last place in the AL East. Their .246 team batting average ranks 22nd in baseball.

    Needless to say, Boston could use some offensive help moving forward, and Kemp might be their guy.

    Even if the 2011 MVP runner-up doesn't reach the numbers he put up three years ago, he'd still be the best offensive weapon among the Red Sox's young outfield corps of Brock Holt, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

    In return, the Dodgers should demand bullpen assistance. Left-hander Andrew Miller has struck out 58 batters and walked just 12 over 36 innings of work. He and his 2.23 ERA could be a welcome addition to a Dodgers bullpen that has been far from lights-out this season.

    Anthony Ranaudo (10-4, 2.62 ERA at Triple-A) could be ready to take over Chris Perez's position in the Los Angeles bullpen if this trade goes through. He is also a candidate to become a starter in the future. With Josh Beckett and Dan Haren set to become free agents after this season, Ranaudo's versatility could be very intriguing to the Dodgers.

Strike a Deal with Philadelphia for Jonathan Papelbon

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    USA TODAY Sports

    RHP Chris Perez and RHP Zach Lee for RHP Jonathan Papelbon

    It's no secret that the Dodgers bullpen has struggled this season.

    The plan out of spring training was to use Chris Perez and Brian Wilson—a pair of a freshly signed former closers—as the seventh- and eighth-inning options, respectively, en route to closer Kenley Jansen.

    Instead, all three of the aforementioned relievers have underwhelmed.

    Wilson and his beard, signed for one year and $10 million, entered the All-Star break with an ugly 5.64 ERA. Perez hasn't been much better at 4.54.

    Still, the Dodgers are in first place by a game over the Giants. But there's no telling how far ahead they would be had Wilson and Perez met preseason expectations.

    The Philadelphia Phillies, on the other hand, are in the cellar of the NL East and will most likely become sellers at the deadline.

    This is good news for their fiery closer Jonathan Papelbon, who made it clear last week that he would accept a trade to a contender like the Dodgers. Although he didn't mention Los Angeles specifically, Papelbon said it would be a "no-brainer" to leave Philadelphia if a team with a realistic chance at the postseason came knocking.

    It was then reported this week that the Dodgers may indeed pursue Papelbon to help shore up the back end of their bullpen, per ESPN LA's Mark Saxon.

    The Dodgers' relief corps ranks 19th in baseball with a 3.74 ERA.

    While Chris Perez might not be the most enticing return for the Phillies from a statistical perspective, he is owed about $10 million less than Papelbon this season. What's more, Perez's contract comes off the books after this year whereas Papelbon is set to make another $13 million next season.

    Philadelphia may also bite on this offer if a minor league pitcher like Zach Lee is included. The former first-round pick had been the Dodgers' top pitching prospect every year since he was selected in 2010.

    Los Angeles may be willing to part with Lee not only because of the opportunity to acquire a quality reliever in Papelbon but also because 17-year-old phenom Julio Urias has emerged as the team's top pitching prospect this season.

Nab David, but Only If the Price Is Right

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    OF Joc Pederson, RHP Zach Lee and OF Andre Ethier for LHP David Price and OF/IF Ben Zobrist

    As if the Dodgers need another front-line starter to accompany All-Stars Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays has seen his name linked to Los Angeles since the offseason.

    Although the Rays have played better baseball of late, they are still tied with the Red Sox for last place in the AL East.

    While most teams around baseball would love to acquire the talented lefty's services if Tampa Bay decides to become a seller at the deadline, only a few clubs can actually afford the former first overall pick.

    That's because Price is going to command a massive new contract when he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season (He will remain under Tampa Bay control as an arbitration-eligible player next season.).

    Price's upcoming deal is expected to pay him more than $150 million, which is based on the similar paychecks recently doled out to the likes of Kershaw and Felix Hernandez.

    The Dodgers, with their record payroll that isn't getting lower anytime soon, have the financial flexibility to offer Price the kind of big-money contract headed his way.

    But in order to complete any deal for Price, the Los Angeles will most likely have to part with at least two of their top prospects.

    The team's best hitting prospects are infielder Corey Seager, who represented the Dodgers in last Sunday's Futures Game, and center fielder Joc Pederson, who this week clubbed a home run in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

    Since the Dodgers already have a surplus of outfielders, it might make more sense for them to ship off Pederson as well as veteran outfielder Andre Ethier.

    Pederson, who boasts a 1.017 OPS in the Pacific Coast League, is about as major league-ready as a Triple-A player can get. He was nearly promoted last June, but the Dodgers opted to go with Yasiel Puig instead.

    Still, the Rays will want more than just Pederson, especially if they include utilityman Ben Zobrist in the deal.

    In terms of pitching prospects, 17-year-old left-hander Julio Urias has recently usurped 2010 first-round pick Zach Lee on the Dodgers' minor-league depth chart.

    This blockbuster trade may actually come down to whether or not the Rays demand Urias, who was the youngest player in the Futures Game and is becoming increasingly untouchable in the Dodgers' eyes.

    In fact, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti recently acknowledged that the team is probably unwilling to trade the caliber of prospects he expects the Rays to demand in a trade for Price, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times

    The opportunity for a mega-rotation in Los Angeles is very well within reach. For Colletti and the Dodgers, the question over the next 14 days becomes whether or not the price is right.

    All stats courtesy of ESPN.com and Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.