Dodgers' Updated Trade Targets with 2021 MLB Deadline Approaching
It's hard to find a glaring flaw on the Los Angeles Dodgers roster.
Gavin Lux is holding his own filling in for the injured Corey Seager at shortstop, and the team has enough offensive firepower to give him a long leash while he continues to build toward reaching his considerable long-term ceiling.
The starting rotation is stacked, even with Dustin May on the injured list, and ranks second in the majors with a 3.00 ERA through 80 games.
If there's one area that could use an infusion of talent this summer, it's the bullpen.
The relief corps ranks 10th in the majors with a 3.61 ERA, and the late-inning unit of Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Victor Gonzalez and Jimmy Nelson has been rock-solid. A contender can never have too many reliable bullpen arms, though.
Adding a controllable reliever would prepare the team for the potential losses of Jansen and Nelson in free agency this winter, but they could also target a rental arm to add more length to the pen.
We've highlighted three relievers who should be on the Dodgers' radar as the deadline approaches.
LHP Paul Fry, Baltimore Orioles
Let's start with an under-the-radar target.
The 28-year-old is in his fourth season as a regular part of the big league bullpen, and he is racking up strikeouts at a career-high 12.6 K/9 rate on the year with a 3.68 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 30 appearances.
He has been equally effective against right- (.212 BA, .539 OPS) and left-handed hitters (.200 BA, .519 OPS) this year. And while high-leverage situations have been few and far between in Baltimore, he has two saves and seven holds.
With club control through the 2024 season and a pre-arbitration salary just above the league minimum, he would give the Dodgers a second late-inning southpaw to join Gonzalez.
RHP Kendall Graveman, Seattle Mariners
A staple in the Oakland Athletics rotation at the start of his career, Kendall Graveman missed the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and has reinvented himself as a lights-out reliever since returning to action.
Armed with a heavy fastball that averages 96.6 mph and a wipeout slider that has limited opposing hitters to a .120 average, Graveman began the season with 16.2 scoreless innings before missing nearly a month following a positive COVID-19 test.
He has allowed at least one run in three of his six appearances since returning, so he will have something to prove in the weeks leading up to the deadline, but his overall season numbers are still impossible to ignore.
- 20 G, 7 SV, 4 HLD, 1.19 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 4 BB, 21 K, 22.2 IP, .147 BAA
The 30-year-old signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract during the offseason, and he will be in position for a multi-year deal this winter if he can put together a strong second half.
The Dodgers rode injury-returnee Brandon Morrow hard during the 2017 postseason, and their gamble on Jimmy Nelson is also paying dividends this season, so they won't be scared away by Graveman's injury history.
RHP Richard Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Since signing a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to the 2018 season, Richard Rodriguez has quietly emerged as one of the most effective relievers in baseball.
The 31-year-old has a 2.82 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 with 15 saves and 33 holds in 188 appearances over the past four years, and he has been lights out in the ninth inning for a last-place Pirates team this year.
He has a 1.78 ERA, 0.69 WHIP and 10 saves in 12 opportunities over 29 appearances, and opponents are hitting just .168/.191/.234 with five extra-base hits in 110 plate appearances against him in 2021.
Despite his age, he is under arbitration control through the 2023 season and earning just $1.7 million this year.
There is not a more valuable trade chip on the market among relievers, and he won't come cheap.
A package built around catching prospect Keibert Ruiz would make sense for both sides. The Pirates do not have a clear catcher of the future in the system, and the Dodgers have a young star in Will Smith blocking his path.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Tuesday's games.