clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

An elite reliever may be the most realistic trade deadline target for the Dodgers

Looking at a dire market for any improvements

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

As properly illustrated by the Dodgers’ acquisition of two of the worst-qualified hitters in the sport in the last couple of days, the market simply doesn’t present plenty of enticing options in 2023.

Because of an influx of fringe contenders, a lack of impact players on the few teams entrenched in a full rebuild, and other peripheral reasons, there are simply not many, if any high-end players available.

One of the few areas in which the Dodgers could potentially find an impact name is on the back end of the bullpen, and it brings up certain topics which are almost yearly addressed for this perennial contender.

The Dodgers have been averse to shelling out high-value packages for elite relievers in the past. Instead, relying on their outstanding pitching staff to extract the most out of low-key acquisitions like Brandon Morrow, Chris Martin, and Ryan Brasier, to name a few.

While it’d be very easy to just blindly endorse this particular method this regime has deplored over the last several years, it’s at least worthwhile to consider alternatives.

The bullpen market is not flushed with assets that’d really move the needle, but without looking hard, one could foresee the availability of some intriguing names.

David Bednar is the golden goose, and although a trade at this deadline isn’t likely, the Pirates have indicated they’re open to listening to offers. He’s arbitration-eligible after this season and would come with three more years of team control beyond 2023, which would obviously cost a pretty penny. With each passing year, Pittsburgh loses a little bit of value on their asking price, as it’s one fewer year of control in the books.

NL would-be contenders

Team Record wild card GB Playoff odds
Team Record wild card GB Playoff odds
Padres 49-54 27.8%
Mets 47-54 13.8%
through July 26 Playoff odds from FanGraphs

The Mets may indeed be sellers by deadline day and if so, pending free agent David Robertson, who has stepped in to replace Edwin Diaz really well as the closer, could be on the market. Obviously not costing nearly what Bednar would.

Would the Padres make a deal with the Dodgers? Probably not. However, if they decided to sell, Josh Hader would be one of the first names to reach the market, and as a free agent to be, wouldn’t be unrealistic.

There are other names on the periphery that may become available depending on what happens in these next couple of days, and ultimately, who decides to sell or not.

The general point to be made, and addressed though, is that there is an upside, and general merits to being more aggressive in pursuing a shutdown arm for the bullpen.

Yency Almonte, Alex Vesia, Caleb Ferguson and company are at one of their finest moments in the season, working that bridge to Evan Phillips, but looking at this unit it is easy to rewind back to last year’s NLDS.

The Dodgers lost that Game 4 by failing to bridge the gap to Evan Phillips. Yes, it is one game as a sample size, but does that matter? Not really.

However, even though the bullpen is in a good moment, Phillips doesn’t really have any peers which Dave Roberts might be able to blindly trust in a deep postseason run. With Ferguson or Brusdar Graterol as the closest to being that guy.

How valuable was Morrow in that 2017 run? How important Kenley Jansen was back in the day. One elite reliever can carry a bullpen in the postseason, two can be a real difference maker.

Assessing the market right now, the best and potentially most realistic opportunity would be to go out and get David Robertson. Who wouldn’t cost that much, all things being considered, and be able to close out games, giving more flexibility to the usage of Phillips.

Maybe in the grand scheme of things, you give up a slightly better prospect you’d like, but one of the top aspects of the Dodgers' current farm is quality in bulks, even if it lacks the high-end prospects of yesteryear.

Make no mistake, Robertson, or Bednar represent the one of the most impactful acquisitions the Dodgers could feasibly make ahead of this 2023 postseason.