However, with trade season upon us, and Andrew Friedman always emphasizing the importance of looking in every direction, the Dodgers could surely do with some hitting improvements. Particularly towards the bottom half of the order, as it pertains to complementary pieces, options should be explored.
J.D. Martinez as a full-time DH alters your view of the market, as the Dodgers are basically out of the running for any potential first base/DH at-bats. However, as mentioned in an earlier article here, Mookie Betts’ flexibility does open up possibilities for hitters the team can acquire.
This is one of the worst deadline markets in recent seasons, with a flurry of fringe contenders, and a lack of impactful names on the trading block. Nevertheless, here are some intriguing options the Dodgers could pursue before the August 1 trade deadline.
OF Randal Grichuk, Rockies
.313/.380/.547, 130 wRC+ in 71 PA vs. LHP 2023
.286/.326/.529, 121 wRC+ vs. LHP 2021-23
2023 salary: $9.33 million
Andrew McCutchen would be a great addition but doesn’t seem likely to move from his homecoming to Pittsburgh. Grichuk would be the most apt consolation prize so to speak, when it comes to right-handed outfield bats on expiring deals.
With a .809 career OPS and 113 wRC+ against southpaws, Grichuk has a significant enough track record to serve as a serviceable platoon piece, particularly in such a dire market.
The Rockies are division rivals, but this move would be way too low-profile to warrant any hesitance because of that on Colorado’s part, assuming any logical reasoning.
Another encouraging aspect of Grichuk’s game is his familiarity with all three outfield positions, having played 10 or more games in each of them this year.
OF/DH Brent Rooker, A’s
.244/.346/.500, 137 wRC+ in 107 PA vs. LHP 2023
.225/.332/.412, 112 wRC+ vs. LHP career (2020-23)
2023 salary: $725,000
To those of you unfamiliar with Rooker’s game, think of the good days of Trayce Thompson. As one of the few things that has gone right in the Oakland A’s season, Rooker is having an above-average season out of nowhere, after bouncing around as a journeyman with few opportunities in the bigs.
Despite being 28 years old, Rooker has accrued very little service time in his career and thus is controllable through 2027, and although that will certainly affect his profile, certain concerns about his game severely limit his upside, and trade value.
Like Thompson, Rooker is very bad at making contact in the zone (71.9%), ranking in the first percentile across the bigs, that combined with a strikeout rate above 30 percent makes for a very streaky, and capped profile.
What allows Rooker to be successful is that when he does make contact in the zone, he does so loudly, with an average exit velocity in the top 80th percentile.
With Thompson on the shelf, Rooker would serve as his ideal replacement in this lineup, and the A’s are about as willing to shop around virtually anyone on their roster, these days, not that they have a ton of trade chips.
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox
.338/.363/.390, 111 wRC+ in 80 PA vs. LHP 2023
.341/.366/.439, 122 wRC+ vs. LHP 2021-23
2023 salary: $12.5 million; 2024 club option worth $14 million ($1 million buyout)
Hear me out for a second. Tim Anderson has been one of the worst hitters in baseball in 2023 — .235/.274/.275, 52 wRC+ overall — and there is nothing on the horizon to indicate a bounce back in the near future. However, this is someone who’s hit .300 or better in each of the past four seasons and has dealt with injury issues in 2023.
Even amidst the mediocrity of the AL Central, the White Sox are quickly approaching seller territory, and may already be there with a 41-57 record.
This is far, far from ideal, and frankly, even the underlying metrics do not show much cause for promise, but Anderson has nine for his last 24 at-bats (.375/.444/.417), and in a disappointing year would hardly cost the same as he would have in the off-season.
OF Dylan Carlson, Cardinals
.293/.414/.431, 142 wRC+ in 70 PA vs. LHP 2023
.313/.384/.431, 142 wRC+ vs. LHP career (2020-23)
2023 salary: $742,400
One name really circling the rumor mill is that of Dylan Carlson, with the return of Tyler O’Neill, whom the Cardinals have openly stated they’ll prioritize playing, despite back-to-back disappointing seasons.
Carlson has fared well against southpaws in his career (.865 OPS). However, a major point of his problems in St. Louis, and his frustration, comes from a lack of consistent playing time which the Dodgers would not be able to offer.
Carlson is also controllable through multiple years — he’ll be arbitration-eligible from 2024-26 — and thus would hold more trade value than other potential outfield additions, for what the Dodgers are searching for.
Oh, how glad must the Dodgers be that Martinez is doing this well at DH. Across the whole league, there aren’t a lot of impact bats available, even if a team is willing to shell out for one.