We are one week away from the trade deadline. July 30 will be a hectic day across baseball, especially in the NL West. As of right now, the Dodgers have the second best record in the National League. Unfortunately, the best record belongs to the Giants who currently have a three-game lead in the division.
Though anything is possible, a postseason berth is a near lock at this point for the Dodgers. The only question is whether or not they’ll be division winners or playing in the one-game Wild Card against (likely) another NL West opponent.
It’s been quite the season for LA. They’ve dealt with injuries to nearly every player it seems, but yet they’ve still managed to win more than 60 percent of their games. As the trade deadline approaches, there’s a clear need for the Dodgers. Pitching.
Now, obviously they can desperately use a starting pitcher. Currently, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias are the only two members in the rotation that were in the Opening Day starting rotation. With Trevor Bauer a question mark for the rest of the season and Clayton Kershaw still weeks away, the Dodgers desperately could use some help in their rotation.
In addition, they could also use some help in their bullpen too. If you could name me every pitcher who has come out of the bullpen for LA in 2021 I would be very impressed. It’s been a carousel of names. There are a few names who are guaranteed to be there in October (if healthy) but there are still question marks surrounding the bullpen for the Dodgers moving forward.
With all this being said, there’s a trade package that could completely rock Major League Baseball. The Dodgers could upgrade their starting rotation, bullpen and their starting lineup as well. I have no clue what we can expect at the trade deadline, but let’s get crazy.
The Dodgers acquire Craig Kimbrel, Kris Bryant and Zach Davies from the Chicago Cubs.
Now I know what you’re thinking...
“Blake, have you lost your mind?”
Well, yes. But hear me out.
The Cubs appear to be in complete sell mode. With the exception of maybe Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez, they’ll likely be trading everyone. And boy oh boy do they have a lot of pieces that would instantly make the Dodgers a much, much better team.
Let’s start at the top with Craig Kimbrel. He’s been by far the best closer in baseball this season and there really isn’t a close second. In 37 games with the Cubs, the 33-year-old has posted a 0.51 ERA with a 1.10 FIP and 0.68 WHIP. In 35 1⁄3 innings of action he’s struck out 61 hitters and walked only 12. Oh, and he has 22 saves.
I’ve been defending Kenley Jansen all season. Even on Wednesday night after the Dodgers’ loss I was defending him. But now he’s blown three straight save opportunities in a row. He’s been insanely shaky, and frankly I don’t know how much trust Dave Roberts has in him at the moment. We’ve seen the Dodgers go away from Jansen in the postseason recently, as he just hasn’t been the reliable closer he once was.
With the Dodgers having a chance to win the World Series again this year, I don’t think they can afford to screw around. They need a reliable shutdown closer in October.
Sure, they can turn to Blake Treinen or Corey Knebel, but what happens if one of them is unable to get the job done? Kimbrel is by far the the best closer in the game right now and I wouldn’t trust anyone more on the mound in the ninth than him.
In addition to being the best reliever available, he also has a team option for next season. If the Dodgers want to (and it’s hard to see them not wanting to) they can bring Kimbrel back in 2022. Jansen will be a free-agent at the end of the season. I love Kenley. He’s the best closer in Dodgers history and has been a Dodgers legend. But sometimes you have to put loyalty aside and think about what is best for your team. There’s a chance Jansen might not be a Dodger next season. If he’s not, you have a chance to lock in Kimbrel for 2022 as well.
Okay, there’s a solid reliever the Dodgers can add. Let’s talk about starting pitching. Ideally, I’d love for the Dodgers to acquire Kyle Hendricks, but we need to keep this somewhat realistic. Well, Zach Davies isn’t a bad second option.
Davies has been a pretty solid starter throughout his big-league career. In 143 career starts, the 28-year-old has a 3.83 ERA. He had a career year for the Padres in 2020, going 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA, 3.88 FIP and 1.07 WHIP. His numbers aren’t as appealing in 2021, as he’s 5-6 with a 4.35 ERA.
But those numbers are very deceiving.
In two blowup starts this season, Davies has allowed a combined 15 runs. He allowed eight runs in one start and seven runs in another. If you wipe out those two outings from his season, Davies has a 3.21 ERA in 18 starts. All of a sudden, that’s not too bad, right?
Over his last 14 starts, Davies has posted a 3.15 ERA as well, so he’s really settled down since the beginning of May.
The starting pitching market isn’t great right now. There aren’t a whole lot of really great starters currently on the market. The best names available are Max Scherzer, Jose Berrios and German Marquez, but I can’t see any one of them being traded. This leaves Davies, who is a pretty solid and welcoming addition, especially considering the rotation at the moment.
Come October we know that Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias will be the three locked and loaded starters. And no, Urias won’t be moved to the bullpen. LA wants him in the starting rotation. If you add Davies, you now have a solid fourth starter. With him being added, you can add David Price and Tony Gonsolin to the bullpen which would be a definite upgrade.
Davies is a free-agent at the end of the season, so you don’t have to worry about him staying in the rotation moving forward. The Dodgers just need a starter who can eat innings to close out the season and a No. 4 starter come October.
Okay, we’ve talked about two pitchers who could greatly help the Dodgers. Let’s get to the third and final piece. Kris Bryant.
This is one that makes a little less sense, but this is a blockbuster trade we’re talking about here, so why don’t we make this as epic as possible? If the Dodgers are going to acquire two difference-makers, why not a third? It’s tough to see Bryant being much of a fit, but the Dodgers can make it work.
Bryant is in the final year of his contract, so the Dodgers could just let him walk at the end of the season. However, with the DH potentially coming to the National League in 2022, maybe the Dodgers want to keep him? Anyways, that’s for another article.
The Dodgers’ depth this year is nothing like it’s been in years past. The losses of Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez have definitely been costly. I’m not going to go through every name, but the options the Dodgers have had to turn to this year off the bench have not been great.
Come October, the bench pieces will likely be Albert Pujols, Matt Beaty, Austin Barnes and Zach McKinstry. Not the worst in baseball by any means, but adding another bat would definitely be welcomed.
Though he’s cooled off as of late, Bryant has been fantastic for the Cubs in 2021. He’s currently hitting .264 with an OPS of .836 to go along with 16 home runs and 48 RBI. In addition to being a welcoming bat in the lineup, his versatility in the field would be a huge asset for the Dodgers. In 2021, he’s spent time in all three outfield positions, along with first base and third base.
This is where things will get tricky, as the Dodgers will have to get creative when figuring out where to play players. Although you don’t want to see it happen, injuries are part of the game and who knows what can happen over the next few months.
If you wanted Bryant to play first base, you could put Max Muncy at second base and put Chris Taylor at either shortstop (Corey Seager still hurt or day off) or in left field. If you want to give Justin Turner a day off at third base to save him for October then Bryant can play there. You can put Bryant in left field and put Taylor at second base. If you want to truly get crazy, you can have Bryant in center field, have Bellinger back at first base and then put Muncy at second base while having AJ Pollock in left field.
There are a lot of different combinations to go with, and it could get tricky, but the Dodgers can definitely make it work.
In this scenario, you likely wouldn’t see much of Gavin Lux. Once Seager is activated off the IL, it’s tough to see Lux getting much playing time. At this point you can’t take Taylor or Seager’s bat out of the lineup, so I think his playing time would be reduced. I don’t know if the Dodgers would actually send Lux down to the minors, but I think we could see Lux take on much more of a bench role in the final few months.
The Dodgers don’t have an immediate need for Bryant. He’d be a great addition, as I mentioned he gives them a solid bat and can play anywhere that’s needed and help rotate guys in the field. Bryant also gives the Dodgers some needed depth, should an injury happen to one of their infielders or outfielders to finish the season.
Alright. I’ve done my best at explaining why the Dodgers need to make this trade happen. I’ve explained why each of the three players would make sense and be a welcoming addition to the Dodgers as they look to repeat as World Series champions.
Well, with every great acquisition comes a great cost. And this certainly would be just that. I’m not even sure where I could begin with the potential asking price from Chicago on a trade like this.
It would likely begin with LA’s top prospect Keibert Ruiz, however the Cubs aren’t really in desperate need of a catcher at the moment. You’d think some other names that would be thrown around would be second baseman Michael Busch (LA’s No. 3 prospect), right-handed pitcher Bobby Miller (LA’s No. 5 prospect), catcher Diego Cartaya (LA’s No. 6 prospect), outfielder Andy Pages (LA’s No. 8 prospect), infielder Miguel Vargas (LA’s No. 11 prospect). I could see two of those names being the headliners going back to Chicago.
With Bryant and Davies being rentals, the package wouldn’t be as steep, but adding Kimbrel is what makes this a haul.
It will take a lot, no doubt about it. This trade would likely cost the Dodgers three or four prospects in their Top 15. But at this point, I think it’s worth it. I know having a great farm system is crucial, but we’ve seen the Dodgers’ ability to re-stock the farm on a year-to-year basis so I’m confident they could rebuild it. When you have a chance to win a World Series, you have to go for it.
Kimbrel, Davies and Bryant would upgrade the Dodgers all across the board. Their team would instantly be better. Would Andrew Friedman consider pulling something like this off? Who knows. He’s surprised us many times before, and this certainly would be one of his biggest moves.
There’s a chance the Dodgers don’t make a big splash like in years past. They’ll likely add a starter and reliever of some kind, but I don’t think it would be anywhere near this kind of magnitude. Either way, the Dodgers will be in the postseason. Hopefully in the NLDS as division winners, but at the very least they have a one-game Wild Card ahead of them.
They still are considered World Series favorites, but if they truly want to make their team better and give themselves a better chance at winning it all for the second straight season, this trade would do just that.