The MLB trade deadline is only days away, and there is still a lot of uncertainty as to what the Dodgers plan to do. One thing is almost certain, they’ll be acquiring bullpen help of some sort. The real question that lies ahead before Wednesday, is who that bullpen help will be.
The Dodgers have been linked to numerous names over the last few weeks, more notably the names include Felipe Vazquez and Shane Greene. Either one of those names could help LA with their bullpen struggles and potentially be the missing piece in order for them to win their first World Series in over 30 years.
However, those names will come with a price. Depending on which player the Dodgers acquire, it could cost one of their highest rated prospects, maybe even two. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the top prospects in LA’s farm system, and who could potentially be on the move in the coming days.
* These top-five rankings are according to MLB Pipeline
No. 1 - Gavin Lux
In my opinion, I think Lux is the only prospect for LA who can be deemed “untouchable”. According to multiple prospect rankings, Lux is a top-10 prospect in all of baseball, and rightfully so.
The 21-year-old has taken the minor leagues by storm this season, more so over the last few weeks. Since being promoted to Triple-A, there hasn’t been a hotter hitter across all levels of the minor-leagues. In 22 games with Oklahoma City, Lux is hitting .479 with an OPS of 1.476. He has eight home runs, 27 RBI and has walked almost as many times as he’s struck out.
When you combine his numbers from Tulsa this season, he’s slashing .357/.423/.629/1.051 over the course of 86 games. He’s hit a combined 21 homers and have driven in 64 runs.
Mentioned earlier, he’s only 21 years old, and looks to be a perfect fit for the future plans of the Dodgers. He currently spends most of his time playing shortstop, but as of late has been getting in reps at second base. With Corey Seager looking to be the long-term answer at shortstop for the Dodgers, Lux can slide right in and play second base as early as September, and easily for the 2020 season.
It seems the Dodgers have an answer for essentially every position, except second base. They’ve spent this season rotating guys like Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and Max Muncy, and neither of those guys look to be in the future picture for the Dodgers. Well, likely Muncy, but at first base. With that being said, Lux at second makes too much sense for the Dodgers and their future plans, and his bat gives them that much more of a guarantee. Obviously, anything can happen with this front office, but with Lux shooting his way up the prospect ranks, it’s hard to him not being a Dodger a week from today.
Chance of being traded: Less than five percent
No. 2 - Dustin May
Just like Lux, the best pitcher in the Dodgers’ farm system is only 21 years old. May has shot up the ranks as of late as well, and now is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.
He started the season with Tulsa, but was recently promoted to Oklahoma City as well. Since the promotion, he’s started five games, going 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA. He has 18 strikeouts in 21 innings, and a WHIP of 1.17. Overall in the minors this season, he’s started 19 games, going 5-5 with a 3.49 ERA. He’s held opponents to a .234 average and has 104 strikeouts in 100 innings.
May has recently been brought up in trade discussions for Pirates reliever Vazquez, which would make sense, considering that the Pirates would likely ask for a top pitching prospect in return for their best pitcher, who also is under team control for four years after this season. It was also reported that the Mets will likely be shopping Noah Syndergaard, as well as potentially Edwin Diaz. If that’s the case, and the Dodgers have interest, May would almost likely be a name that heads to New York in the deal.
Chance of being traded: 25 percent
No. 3 - Keibert Ruiz
Coming into the season, Ruiz was the No. 1 prospect for the Dodgers, and it was the overall general consensus. Since then, he’s slipped to No. 3. It’s not that he’s completely fallen off the map, because he’s had a respectable season so far. It’s just the fact Lux and May have been so good. Still, Ruiz is an elite prospect, and aside from Lux, could be the most valuable in the Dodgers’ system.
Ruiz is a switch-hitting catcher, who up until last season never had a batting average below .300 in the minors. He saw a drop in his numbers with Tulsa in 2019, as he hit only .254 with an OPS below .700 in 74 games. Recently, he was promoted to Oklahoma City. In four games, he’s hitting .333 with a home run and six RBI.
The recurring theme: Ruiz is only 21 years old. Throughout his minor-league career, he’s always had a great eye at the plate. His career average through 382 games is .300, and has struck out in only 10.2 percent of his at-bats. He has great plate discipline, on top of his ability to hit for average from both sides of the plate.
With the recent success of Will Smith, this potentially can make Ruiz more expendable. He might see time with the big-league club in September, but it’s likely he’ll begin next season in Triple-A. With catching being arguably one of the more difficult positions out there, it’s unclear if the Dodgers have any plans of running a two-catcher committee starting next season. Smith is capable of playing in the infield, so Ruiz can fill the catching void moving forward. He’ll likely be used in a deal should the Dodgers try and acquire Vazquez from the Pirates as well.
Chance of being traded: 25 percent
No. 4 - Will Smith
The first prospect that appears on this list who has big-league experience, Smith has established himself as the every day catcher for the Dodgers. Having recently been recalled from Oklahoma City, manager Dave Roberts announced that Smith will be getting the bulk of the playing time moving forward. With Smith being the starting catcher, it’s hard to see him being moved any time soon.
In OKC this season, Smith was hitting .269 with 20 homers and 54 RBI. While with the big-league club, he has four homers and 12 RBI in only 10 games. Though his sample size is small, he’s already showed he’s more than capable of playing at the big-league level.
Earlier in spring training, Andrew Friedman said he could see Smith winning multiple Gold Gloves at the catching position. Smith also has the capability to play the infield as well, making him even more valuable defensively.
As I mentioned, he’s the Dodgers’ starting catcher moving forward, so there’s no reason to expect him being moved, at least this season.
Chance of being traded: 0 percent
No. 5 - Josiah Gray
The lone prospect on this list who wasn’t drafted by the Dodgers. A year ago, Gray was in the Cincinnati Reds organization, but an off-season trade brought him to LA. Initially, he wasn’t even in the top-15 in regards to top Dodgers prospects, now he finds himself in the top-5, and for good reason.
Gray has shot-up through the Dodgers’ farm system, going from Great Lakes to Tulsa over the course of a few months. In 19 starts this season, the 21-year-old is 8-2 with a 2.10 ERA. He has 115 strikeouts in 103 innings, and is holding opponents to a .197 average. His WHIP is also only 0.92.
With Gray quickly moving up the ranks, we could see him potentially in the top-three at around this time next season. Other teams may view him as a valuable asset, especially with how he’s dominated three different leagues this season. If the Dodgers are unwilling to part ways with May, Gray will likely be the best pitching option to be dealt.
Chance of being traded: 15 percent
Again, these numbers are all just speculation. Only the front office knows how highly they value each of these players. In a few days, this top five can be the exact same, and the Dodgers will have a lot of depth moving forward.
Should the Dodgers trade a Top-5 prospect to acquire a reliever?
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