Dodgers' Final Guide, Ideal Targets for 2021 MLB Trade DeadlineJuly 29, 2021
Dodgers' Final Guide, Ideal Targets for 2021 MLB Trade Deadline
The favorites to win the National League West title for a ninth straight season entering the year, the Los Angeles Dodgers instead find themselves locked in a tight three-way race with the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres.
Will that make them more aggressive at this year's trade deadline?
Teams have until 4 p.m. ET on Friday to put the finishing touches to their rosters for the stretch run, and pitching help tops the list of needs for the Dodgers.
The team's payroll situation will be a factor, as they are already over the highest level of the luxury tax threshold, but that won't stop them from seeking out upgrades.
Ahead we have highlighted two players who should top the team's wishlist while also taking a closer look at their standing as buyers.
Buyers or Sellers?
The Dodgers are not going to be sellers as they look to defend their World Series title and sit in a comfortable position to reach the postseason in some capacity with a 62-41 record.
With Dustin May out for the year, Clayton Kershaw nursing forearm inflammation and Trevor Bauer out of action indefinitely while he faces sexual assault allegations, the Dodgers' once deep starting rotation is suddenly short-handed.
Meanwhile, the bullpen could also use reinforcement, with David Price sliding into the rotation from his middle relief role and hard-throwing Victor Gonzalez struggling to a 12.27 ERA in July.
Top prospect Keibert Ruiz is a valuable trade chip for the Dodgers to dangle, and they should be open to moving him with Will Smith blocking his path in the big leagues and fellow catching prospect Diego Cartaya rapidly rising the prospect rankings.
The Dodgers are going to be buyers in some capacity, it's just a question of whether they will be able to reel in their top targets.
Here's who that might be...
Ideal Target: RHP Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals have slipped out of the postseason hunt with a 6-16 record in July, and that means Max Scherzer will be up for grabs.
The 37-year-old is in the final year of a complicated contract that includes significant deferred money, but an acquiring team would essentially be on the hook for the remainder of his $35 million salary this year to be paid out several years down the road.
As far as rental arms are concerned, he's arguably the best to hit the trade block since David Price was shipped from the Detroit Tigers to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015.
With a 2.83 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 142 strikeouts in 105 innings, he is still pitching at an extremely high level, and he also has a wealth of postseason experience with a 3.38 ERA in 112 career playoff innings.
He has full 10-and-5 veto rights that would allow him to block any trade and is said to prefer landing with a West Coast team, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
The fact that the Padres and Giants are also potential landing spots will only add to the Dodgers' sense of urgency.
Ideal Target: RHP Richard Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Richard Rodriguez has been a quietly effective late-inning option since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018.
Over the past four seasons, he has a 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 in 196 appearances, with 19 saves and 33 holds to his credit.
The 31-year-old is controllable in arbitration through the 2023 season, making him one of the most valuable bullpen arms on the market this summer.
He has nailed down 14 of 17 save opportunities this year while holding opposing hitters to a .194 batting average, and with longtime closer Kenley Jansen headed for free agency this offseason, the Dodgers could target Rodriguez as short-term setup help and a long-term answer in the ninth inning.
It's going to take some serious prospect talent to pry him loose and to outbid the rest of the market, but he could be a huge addition come October.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.