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Dodgers fail to land big prize at the trade deadline

Oakland Athletics v. Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — After the Dodgers made three trades and acquired four modest upgrades in the week leading up to the trade deadline, the hope was on Tuesday they’d be able to reel in a bigger prize. But despite interest in Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez, the Dodgers got neither.

“One of them we lined up on, the other one we didn’t because his preference was to go where he did go,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.

The latter refers to Verlander, who was traded by the Mets to his old team, the Astros on Tuesday. Verlander had a no-trade clause, which gave him sway into where he might be sent. The former was Rodriguez, for whom the Dodgers did reach agreement to acquire from the Tigers, only to have Rodriguez exercise his no-trade clause.

“We didn’t expect it at all. We thought having a lot of his ex-teammates, guys he played with, and our place in the standings, would be very desirable,” Friedman said. “We respect his that he has his right and he exercised it. Obviously we would have loved to have him join what we have going here, but it’s hard for us to argue with family reasons.”

Rodriguez was a member of the 2018 Red Sox team that beat the Dodgers in the World Series, and he pitched during that series at Dodger Stadium. This year’s Dodgers have four members of that Boston team on the roster — Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Ryan Brasier, and Joe Kelly.

The Dodgers reached agreement with the Tigers on a deal without knowing whether Rodriguez would accept the trade. They assumed he would.

“There was every reason that he would, based on various conversations, but nothing definitive,” Friedman said.

Rodriguez has a 2.95 ERA with 91 strikeouts and 21 walks in 88⅓ innings in his 15 starts this season, and would have fit in at or near the top of a Dodgers rotation that’s been decimated by injuries and poor performances from literally everyone who’s started a game for them this season.

“The top end of the market, we were aggressive in pursuing,” Friedman said. “The group below that, versatile arms, floor raisers, fits in well with our existing group and helps augment our depth, we were more price sensitive to.”

Having struck out on Verlander and Rodriguez, the Dodgers pivoted to journeyman Ryan Yarbrough, who has started and relieved this season for the Royals after five years with the Rays. Yarbrough has a 4.24 ERA and 4.80 xERA this season with 29 strikeouts and nine walks in his 51 innings.

Yarbrough has made four starts since returning from the injured list, missing two months after getting hit in the head by a line drive on May 7.

Dave Roberts, who had the haggard look of a kid on Christmas morning after unwrapping a big box only to find socks, said he wasn’t yet sure whether Yarbrough, who has started seven games and relieved seven games this season, would be in the rotation or pitch out of the bullpen with the Dodgers.

“We’ll see. He should be in route at some point in time, and we’ll see how it plays out,” Roberts said. “He’s done both and had success.”

Lance Lynn, acquired from the White Sox on Friday, made his Dodgers debut on Tuesday against the A’s. He’s the 35th pitcher Los Angeles has used this season, tied with the Rays for most in baseball.

Rookies Bobby Miller, Michael Grove, Emmet Sheehan, and Gavin Stone have combined to start 32 games, and in all their major league time this season have a collective 6.14 ERA in 168⅔ innings. Fellow rookie Ryan Pepiot made his fourth rehab start Tuesday in Triple-A, working his way back from an oblique injury that sidelined him since opening day.

In July, the Dodgers starters — everyone, not jus the rookies — had a historically bad 6.18 ERA.

The Dodgers expect Clayton Kershaw back from shoulder soreness at some point, perhaps as early as next week. They expect Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin to revert to something close to established norms after not pitching anywhere near it for four months. Though Urías’ status for his Thursday start is up in the air, as he’s dealing with an issue with his left index finger.

The Dodgers at the trade deadline opted for quantity, hoping for quality. But for the most part, the pitchers already here are going to have to be the ones to rescue themselves, because there’s no cavalry coming.

“I like our ball club. I’ve said from the beginning you’re always trying to get better, but as it stands right now, we’ve just got to get our guys back to health,” Roberts said. “It’s still a very, very talented ball club in every facet.”