The Los Angeles Dodgers head into next week's trade deadline looking to add a piece that will vault them back into serious contention in the National League West.
Entering Thursday's action, the Dodgers find themselves six games back of the first place San Diego Padres having lost seven of their last 10 games.
That is a bad recipe for a team that entered the season with loftier expectations. However, the Dodgers are also in a tricky situation.
A heated divorce between owner Frank McCourt and his wife has left the team very much cash strapped without the ability to add a big money player. That leaves the Dodgers looking for good deals that will not incur much of a financial commitment.
But there are deals out there? Or will the Dodgers be forced to take on salary with the hope of making a charge over the last eight weeks of the season?
There isn’t much to love about Jake Westbrook at this point of his career, but he could be enough to generate interest for a Dodgers staff seeking rotation depth. The market for starting pitchers is relatively thin, but that could play to his favor. He is 6-6 with a 4.74 ERA this season and 68 strikeouts in 119.2 innings pitched.
Westbrook is a free agent at the end of the season which should pique the Dodgers’ interest even more and make taking on the remainder of Westbrook’s $11 million this season more bearable.
Texas is cash-strapped so there could be bargaining between the two clubs about prospects versus eating salary.
Lilly like Westbrook will enter free agency at the end of the season which means not only is he currently auditioning for a trade, but for a contract next season as well.
Lilly instantly adds depth to the rotation behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, giving them another left-hander in the rotation that is stocked with right-handers behind Kershaw.
In the past, Lilly has fed off being traded and channeling that into success. The Dodgers simply need another high-caliber arm if they are going to compete with San Francisco, Colorado, and San Diego which are all letting it be known that pitching will win this division.
The Dodgers have also been linked to the Indians' Carmona which makes sense for a couple of reasons.
Carmona gives the Dodgers a much needed power arm and his price tag for the rest of 2010 and 2011 is reasonable. Carmona will make $6.1 million in 2011 before his club options kick in for 2012. That means the Dodgers have full control over him for the next season and a half before they have to decide if they want to ante up for Carmona in 2012.
By then, the Dodgers ownership situation should be straightened out and their ability to spend back on track.
Maholm is not the name Dodgers fans likely want to hear when it comes to acquiring a starting pitcher, but given the state of ownership they may not have much of a choice.
Maholm is 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA and just 57 strikeouts in 114 innings pitched this year. That kind of strikeout ratio does not bode well for future success, but Maholm comes with only $8.3 million owned through the end of next season. That could be enough entice the Dodgers to pull the trigger to bolster their rotation.
George Sherrill cleared outright waivers, which means the Dodgers can do a few things with him. The Dodgers can send him to the minors, take him off the 40-man roster or release him.
Regardless of the decision, Sherrill's time in L.A. appears numbered which means the club needs another lefty in the bullpen.
Enter the 34-year-old Downs who is having a solid year in the Blue Jays bullpen. He is 3-5 with a 2.52 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 39.1 innings pitched. More importantly, Downs has walked just eight batters and given up 32 hits in that time period all while pitching in the AL East.
Frasor, like Downs, is a piece that can be had out of the Toronto. Frasor is not having as good a year considering he holds a 4.42 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 36.2 innings, but he is a hard thrower who can keep the ball down in the zone and has some closing experience.
The Dodgers bullpen has been sketchy at times, to say the least, in front of Jonathan Broxton. Frasor can come in and tighten up the eighth inning.
The Reds have dangled Harang during the last two and a half seasons, but few teams have taken the bait.
His 18-38 record during that stretch is likely the culprit for his lack of suitors. Nevertheless, Harang is an innings eater who could help another National League team bridge the gap in their rotation. If he gets 30 starts, he will reach 200 innings.
In today’s MLB, that’s value. Now, if Harang could only get over his back spasms before the deadline.
Bretty Myers has seen his stock climb in recent weeks as one of the best second-tier pitchers on the market. He is having a resurgent year in Houston where he is 7-6 with a 3.24 ERA in 136 innings with a 101/41 K/BB ratio.
Myers is also gaining favorability because he is owed less than $2 million for the rest of this season with an $8 million mutual option for next season. Myers could get a boost by pitching in a more competitive atmosphere in Los Angeles and comes at a fairly discounted rate.
It has not been a good year for the Mariners closer. He has 17 saves, but he also sports an 0-6 record, 5.04 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. Those are bad signs for a closer.
Aardsma’s performance this season will not generate much value going back to Seattle. A couple of minor leaguers, likely one pitcher and one position player should get it done.
The Dodgers could make this move on the cheap in the hopes that taking Aardsma out of the closer role gets him back on track.
The White Sox' minds might be changed considering their recent run back into AL Central contention.
But Jenks’ struggles could persuade the team to move him, especially if Ozzie Guillen has greater confidence in Matt Thornton to step into the role, which it appears Guillen is doing with J.J. Putz as well.
That could make Jenks very expendable over the next week and a half and could give the Dodgers the leeway to snag Jenks and make a very solid tandem with Broxton in the eighth and ninth innings.