Dodgers' Top Players to Target and Avoid at 2021 MLB Trade Deadline
The Los Angeles Dodgers began the season with no glaring holes on the roster and real hopes of repeating as World Series champions.
An injury-plagued starting rotation will be the focus.
"Dustin May is out for the year, Clayton Kershaw is having injury issues, Julio Urias is already beyond his career high in innings, and the Dodgers have to approach the Trevor Bauer situation with the idea that he won't pitch again this year. As good as the Dodgers are, they need a starter if they want to repeat as champs," wrote Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. "I could see just about any available starting pitcher winding up with the Dodgers. There's urgency there."
It's a thin market for starting pitching, so the bidding will be fierce, but the Dodgers have the draft capital and payroll flexibility to make a serious push for anyone they are serious about acquiring.
Ahead, we've highlighted two players the team should target and one they should avoid at this year's trade deadline.
Target: RHP Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals are 5-11 in the month of July, and they have slipped below the .500 mark as a result, increasing the chances they will be sellers at the trade deadline.
Free-agent-to-be Max Scherzer will be the biggest prize of the trade deadline if the Nats decide to make him available.
The 36-year-old remains one of the best pitchers in the game with a 2.83 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 142 strikeouts in 105 innings, putting him on track to finish in the top five in Cy Young voting for the eighth time in his career if he stays in the National League.
He is owed the remainder of a $34.5 million salary, which will be a prohibitive figure for some smaller market teams, but it should be a non-factor for the deep-pocketed Dodgers.
With a 3.38 ERA in 112 career postseason innings, Scherzer is as battle-tested as any pitcher in baseball, and he helped pitch the Nationals to a World Series title in 2019 with a pair of strong starts in the Fall Classic.
Scherzer should be priority No. 1 for the Dodgers.
Avoid: RHP Kyle Gibson, Texas Rangers
The Dodgers do not necessarily need a starter who is controllable beyond the 2021 season given their wealth of pitching depth, so that takes away some of the appeal that Kyle Gibson holds with his team-friendly $7.7 million contract for 2021.
There's also the matter of his recent performance.
The 33-year-old allowed eight hits and five earned runs in 6.1 innings in his final start of the first half, and he laid another egg against the same lackluster Detroit Tigers offense on Tuesday when he surrendered 10 hits and eight earned runs in five innings.
His ERA has spiked nearly a full run from 1.98 to 2.86, and for a veteran pitcher who was in the midst of an unexpected career year, it's fair to proceed with caution.
A pitcher who has outperformed his career track record for much of the year and is mired in a troubling downturn is one who should not be atop the Dodgers' wish list.
Target: RHP German Marquez, Colorado Rockies
The Dodgers might not need a controllable pitcher who can stick around beyond 2021, but that doesn't mean they are going to avoid pitchers who fit that profile entirely.
German Marquez would be a huge addition to the staff, and the $26.6 million he is owed over the next two years is not a prohibitive figure for a Dodgers team that already has a lot of money on the books.
The question is whether the Colorado Rockies will be willing to move their ace to a division rival.
The 26-year-old has a 3.50 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 119 strikeouts in 118.1 innings this year, earning him a spot on the NL All-Star team in front of the home crowd at Coors Field.
The Dodgers would likely need to part with multiple top-tier prospects, starting with catcher Keibert Ruiz, who would no doubt be of interest to a Rockies organization without a short- or long-term answer behind the plate.
Marquez has a 2.52 ERA in 10 career starts against the Dodgers, including a 2.09 ERA in 38.2 innings at Dodger Stadium. That's a big enough sample size to think he could thrive in Dodger blue.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.