Dodgers Trade Deadline Preview

(Note: I actually wrote this article for MLB Daily Dish, but as the title indicates it's fairly relevant to Dodger fans. So without further ado...)

Buyers or sellers?

With the best record in baseball this season, there is just no way the Dodgers will be selling off any major league contributers. They will be in the same boat as last year, looking for veterans who can help the team reach the playoffs and then contribute if/when they get there. However, in 2008 the Dodgers were looking for bats (and they added Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake), this time around they will be looking for arms to add depth to the pitching staff.

Short-term need

With players locked in at every position around the diamond, the only way the Dodgers could really consider trading for another hitter was if an elite talent like Adrian Gonzalez became available. Even in that case a trade would be unlikely. The Dodgers have stuggled to find a dependable left-handed hitter off the bench but Doug Mientkiewitcz should be back before the postseason begins. In the rotation the Dodgers are looking for a back-end starter to replace Eric Milton, who was recently lost for the season. It's possible the Dodgers could get a decent arm to fill that role although ultimately not that important because the Dodgers already have four effective starters to use in the playoffs. A player like Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee would be a luxury but is in no way a need. Of more pressing importance could be the bullpen, where set-up man Ronald Belisario was recently put on the DL. With the injuries to Belisario, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Jonathan Broxton the Dodgers 'pen is thin. It wouldn't be surprising if an arm is added here, in fact general manager Ned Colletti has said it is the tea's number one priority.

Long-term need

It's hard to pinpoint many long-term needs right now because the current team is so stacked. Young pitchers are still plentiful in the minor league system but the starting rotation will probably need an infusion of talent in another couple years when Hiroki Kuroda and Randy Wolf could be gone. With Russell Martin's struggles this year it should be a priority to find a player who can spell him more often than the Dodgers current backup catchers can and potentially replace him if he doesn't rebound eventually as his salary is escalating. At the corners the Dodgers don't have a lot of firepower and they could use a power bat there in the next few years. Other than that, they should be relatively set for the near future.

Big Leaguers on the market

Barring a trade for Roy Halladay or a similiar player, the only major leaguers on the market are the youngsters who are still trying to earn their place on the team. Even if such a trade were to occur, the Dodgers would have a tough (read: near impossible) time parting with guys like Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp who have provided huge boosts to the team this year. Blake Dewitt and James McDonald, youngsters who have been promoted a few times this year, could find their way into deals for a mid-level starting pitcher. Others like Scott Elbert and Xavier Paul have more muddled futures with the team and may be in trades for smaller upgrades.

Minor league strength

The Dodgers have two areas of strength in their farm system, middle infield and right-handed pitching. Excluding the aforementioned James McDonald and Scott Elbert, the Dodgers recent high draft picks have produced right-handed pitchers Josh Lindblom, Ethan Martin, and Chris Withrow. Withrow and Martin are years away from the majors but Lindblom could help out the bullpen this year if neccesary. As far as middle infielders the Dodgers have Blake Dewitt, Chin-Lung Hu, and the currently injured Ivan Dejesus all at Triple-A with the potential to help out major league teams. Hu's future is in jeopardy because of his abysmal hitting this year (.624 OPS), but both Dewitt and Dejesus have above-average starter potential. At the lower levels Devaris Gordon (son of Tom Gordon) has is toolsy but raw but could turn into a good player down the road.

Take on short-term money to win?

This shouldn't be a problem as the Dodgers play in the second biggest market in the country. However, last year the Dodgers had to add additional prospects to deals because they refused to pay the salary of either Casey Blake or Manny Ramirez. Manny's suspension saves the team about $2.7 million and given the drop in team payroll from '08 to '09, the Dodgers should be able to add a reasonable contract without too much trouble.

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