The trade deadline is less than two weeks away and the Dodgers have a glaring need in their starting rotation.
At the moment, they have two of their five starters from their opening day rotation currently in the rotation. Dustin May is out for the season, Trevor Bauer is under investigation for assault, and Clayton Kershaw is currently on the IL and not expected back until at least August.
Meanwhile, there are question marks surrounding the players currently in the starting rotation. Julio Urías is nearing a career-high in innings, David Price is still being worked up as a starting pitcher and Tony Gonsolin hasn’t yet shown he can consistently eat innings for the Dodgers this year.
Andrew Friedman knows the Dodgers need pitching help, he’s well aware heading into the deadline.
“I think augmenting our pitching is something that is definitely front of mind for us,” he said to the Orange County Register. “If it’s a starter, that’s ideal. But we can’t just manufacture a starter that’s available and fits. So if it’s strengthening the ’pen that’s something we’ll look at as well. That’s primarily where our focus will lie in the next two weeks.”
With the deadline 11 days away, here are some potential names the Dodgers could acquire to add to their starting rotation.
They would be nice, but these seem highly unlikely
This is the popular one. This is the one everyone wants, myself included. With that being said, I just don’t see the Nationals moving him.
At the moment, the Nationals are 43-49. Yet, they’re still only six games out of first place. With 70 games remaining, they’re still technically in the playoff hunt. We’ve seen this Nationals team be buyers in recent years, and this seems no different. If they enter the deadline within six games, you’d have to think they’ll go for it with the team they have, especially in a very weak NL East.
With that being said, let’s say the Nationals are 8-10 games back of first and clearly out of contention, would they still sell? It’ll be tough, as Scherzer can turn down any potential trade. If he doesn’t want to go to a certain team, he can axe the trade right then and there. I’m not saying he wouldn’t want to come to LA, but it isn’t as easy as just pulling off the trade. Next, you’d have to assume the Nationals will be asking a massive price for Scherzer, which I’m not certain the Dodgers would feel comfortable in doing. But then again, who knows when you can add a future Hall-of-Famer to your rotation.
Not to mention, Scherzer also reportedly wants a contract extension from whichever team trades for him. Could the Dodgers extend and bring Mad Max back for a few years? Sure. Will they? I don’t really think so.
Adding Scherzer to the Dodgers’ rotation would be fantastic, especially come October. Unfortunately, this one just doesn’t seem like it is meant to be.
You could make the case that Márquez is the second best starter “available” at the deadline. He’s been great for Colorado this season. He was an All-Star and currently owns a career-best 3.36 ERA... while pitching at Coors Field.
In addition to posting fantastic numbers, Márquez is only 26 years old and is under control through 2023. Not only would the Dodgers be adding a solid starter, they’d get him under an affordable contract for a few seasons.
The Rockies seem content on keeping Márquez through the deadline. Rockies manager Bud Black has said the team won’t trade their ace and it appears Colorado seems content with keeping him as well. Now of course, if the right deal should present itself maybe the Rockies will re-think everything. But as of right now, it just doesn’t seem like Márquez is a realistic option either.
Plus, do we really think the Rockies would want to trade him within the division, to the Dodgers of all teams?
Another name that would be a dream-scenario for the Dodgers would be Jose Berríos. Since 2017, Berríos has been one of the more consistent starting pitchers in all of baseball. He’s made two All-Star teams and has an ERA of 3.76 and a FIP of 3.82. Not Cy Young Award winning numbers by any means, but you would love to have that production from your No. 3 or No. 4 starter.
Berríos is also under control for a few years at a very affordable price. As you can expect, the price would be fairly high in a very slim market. According to The Athletic, the Twins asked another team that inquired about Berríos for a pre-arb player and two top-100 prospects. If that’s the asking price, it’s tough to see the Dodgers budging.
Of course, you always gotta start the asking price as high as you can and work your way from there. But with the starting pitching market being so dry, maybe the Twins hold their ground.
Another difficult obstacle would be the Twins’ willingness to part ways with Berríos unless they are blown away by an offer. With him still being under contract for a few years, the Twins seem content with keeping him and going for it all next season. Although Minnesota has struggled this season, they’ve been in the playoff hunt on a year-to-year basis recently, and they believe they can be right back in contention next season.
More realistic options
Don’t look now, but Kyle Gibson of the Rangers is currently an American League Cy Young Award candidate. He’s 6-1 with a 2.29 ERA and was just named an All-Star for the first time in his big-league career. He’s not a sexy name that would have you jumping in excitement, but he’d be a solid addition.
He’ll be 34 at the end of the season, so he certainly doesn’t fit into the Rangers’ long-term plans. Plus, he’d have control as he’s under contract through next season for a very affordable $7 million. If you take out his Opening Day start, Gibson has posted a 1.86 ERA over 101 2⁄3 innings. He’s struck out 87 while issuing 28 walks.
Now, this certainly is a risk, considering this is by-far the best Gibson has performed over the course of his nine-year career. Prior to 2021, he owned a 4.57 ERA with a 4.36 FIP and 1.42 WHIP. In 2020, he went 2-6 with a 5.35 ERA and 5.39 FIP. If you take a deeper look into his numbers this season, they could be a little deceiving. Although he’s posting a career-best 2.29 ERA, his expected ERA is 3.52, meaning he’s been pretty lucky this season.
At this point, he’d be a welcoming option to the Dodgers’ staff, but this isn’t as much of a guarantee as some of the names previously mentioned. He certainly isn’t worth the price it should take to acquire a top-tier starter at the deadline. Gibson would definitely be a solid addition to the starting rotation, but hopefully at not too steep of a price.
Again, not a sexy name by any means, but Charlie Morton would make the Dodgers’ rotation much better. The 37-year-old has been great in his first season in Atlanta, going 8-3 while posting a 3.69 ERA, 3.49 FIP and 1.12 WHIP. With 122 strikeouts in 105 innings, Morton is posting the third best (27.7%, 10.46 K/9) strikeout rate of his big-league career.
He’s also under contract through this season only, so he’d only be a rental. However at this moment, it looks like the Braves could potentially be buyers at the deadline.
They recently traded for old-friend Joc Pederson and currently are only four games back of the division lead in the NL East. The Braves certainly aren’t as good as they’ve been in recent years, but thanks to a weak division they have a chance to finish in first. With them only being four games back, they’d really have to go on a losing skid in order to be out of contention by next week.
If the Braves find themselves six games back by the deadline, it’s tough to see them not wanting to go for it. But hey, maybe they can trade Morton and feel like they can still compete for the division. Who knows. At this point, every team in the NL East is going to be interesting to follow. Hell, if they win a few games even the Marlins will still be in the hunt.
This is a name that we can likely see moved at the deadline. The Cubs have indicated that they’ll be sellers at the deadline and we’ve already seen them move Pederson. With a potentially weak market for starting pitching, Kyle Hendricks very well could turn into one of the best names available.
Since he debuted in 2014, Hendricks has been as consistent as they get in regards to starting pitchers. He’s gone 81-52 while posting a 3.17 ERA. This season, Hendricks is 12-4 and has a very respectable ERA of 3.65, which is actually his worst since 2015. His chase rate is one of the best in all of baseball this season along with having one of the best curveball spin rates as well.
With the Cubs set to rebuild, the 31-year-old doesn’t seem to be in their future plans. Unlike the other names mentioned above, Hendricks won’t be a rental. He’s under contract through 2023 and has a vesting option for 2024. If the Dodgers are comfortable with adding a well-known starter to their rotation for the next year or two, this deal makes perfect sense.
Danny Duffy has been a member of the Kansas City Royals starting rotation for 11 seasons now, so it’s tough to see him in any other uniform. Just like with what I mentioned with Scherzer earlier, Duffy can block any trade he wants since he’s been in the big-leagues for more than 10 years, all of which have been in Kansas City.
There are reports that Duffy, a California native, would prefer to be dealt to a West Coast club if he’s traded. So, if the Dodgers come calling, maybe Duffy approves of the trade.
Duffy would likely be just a rental as well, as his contract is up at the end of the season. The 32-year-old is currently having one of the best seasons of his career. His 2.51 ERA is his best since 2013, though he only pitched 24 innings that season. His 9.6 K/9 rate is the best of his career and his SO/BB ratio of 2.95 is the best since 2017. In addition, he’s currently got career-highs in FIP (3.40) and ERA+ (182).
The only thing worth noting of Duffy is the fact he’s still building up his workload after recovering from an injury. Over the last two months, he hasn’t thrown more than five innings in a game... and the Dodgers kind of need starters who can eat innings for them. Since returning on June 23, Duffy has made six starts. He’s thrown at least four innings in three of them. Duffy still has plenty of time to build his arm up, but that’s certainly something worth keeping an eye on.