With the best record in baseball at the moment, it’s hard to imagine the Dodgers needing anything that could make them even better. But having watched how the first half of their season has played out, it’s evident there is one area they can use a substantial upgrade, the bullpen.
All season, the Dodgers have had struggles with the bullpen. With the exception of maybe Pedro Baez, each reliever has had some really bad stretches. Now, that’s to be expected. It’s impossible for every reliever to be lights out. However, if the Dodgers have any aspirations of finally getting over the hump and winning their first World Series in over 30 years, this will need to be the year they go all-out at the trade deadline, and acquire quality relievers.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Dodgers are reportedly interested in Pirates closer Felipe Vázquez.
Would expect #Pirates to ask #Dodgers for catcher Keibert Ruiz in any talks for Felipe Vázquez. Ruiz, 20, has a .649 OPS at Double-A this season; he could address Pittsburgh's long-term catching need with Francisco Cervelli becoming a free agent after this year. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 26, 2019
Vázquez has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball this season. He has a 1.91 ERA, with 51 strikeouts in only 33 innings. His 19 saves are also the fourth most in the National League. Now, with the Dodgers already having a closer in Kenley Jansen, Vázquez will likely become the new set-up man, and be the go-to guy in the eighth inning.
Not only is the 27-year-old lights out this season, but he’s been arguably one of the best relievers in baseball over the last three seasons. Since 2017, Vázquez has appeared in 174 games, and has an ERA of 2.12. His WHIP is 1.06, and is averaging 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Though his stats are impressive, and alone are enough to warrant the Dodgers to take a look, arguably the most attractive part would be his contract. He’s under contact through potentially 2023. He’s expected to make $4 million this year, $5.25 million next season, and $7.25 million in 2021. After that, he has club options, that are still team-friendly.
This makes Vázquez one of the more valuable relievers out there, which will probably come with a hefty price. According to Morosi, he expects for the Pirates to ask for Keibert Ruiz in return. Ruiz, 20, is the Dodgers No. 1 prospect. The catcher has struggled in AA this year, hitting .242 with four home runs and 23 RBI. With Will Smith having emerged as a potential long-term answer at catcher for LA, Ruiz could be more movable now in a deal.
The Dodgers may have no intentions of parting ways with Ruiz, so they could potentially try and work around him by throwing in additional prospects. The Pirates are still in the Wild-Card hunt as well, so depending on where they stand come the trade deadline, they may not even be looking to move Vázquez.