The Dodgers currently find themselves in a dogfight this year for the NL West crown.
Keep in mind that this team has secured the NL West title every year since 2013, with little drama aside from 2018’s game 163. This year, it appears things may not come as easily for the Dodgers to take the NL West, with the talented Padres and emergent Giants battling it out along with the defending champs.
The Dodgers have had a problem staying healthy this season. Losing Dustin May for the year is arguably the biggest hit the team has faced this year. Corey Seager continues to remain sidelined as well due to a right-hand fracture that took place in mid-May.
Dave Roberts’ team has been a bit streaky this year as well. Following a nine-game winning streak, the Dodgers have lost their series to the last-place Miami Marlins. Cody Bellinger is slumping at the plate after two IL stints already in the first half of the regular season.
The most concerning news surrounding the Dodgers organization is their current situation with Trevor Bauer. Bauer has been placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball after allegations of assault led to Bauer breaking the internet. According to Manager Dave Roberts, it does not appear he will be on his way back to the hill anytime soon. The Dodgers received more difficult news prior to the All-Star break Wednesday, with Clayton Kershaw heading to the 10-day IL with forearm inflammation.
Despite having a rough go of it early in the season, LA still finds themselves in second place at the time of writing. LA features the best run differential in the National League and second in baseball behind Houston. The Dodgers are far from broken. However, it is time LA begins to assess exactly what moves they must make in order to make a run for the repeat in October.
The Dodgers most pressing need right now on paper is starting pitching. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other spots LA can improve on. Below are ten potential targets for the Dodgers prior to the deadline.
Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer – Nationals
Scherzer is in the final year of his deal with a Washington Nationals team the Dodgers just swept. Absorbing the remainder of his $34.5 million dollar deal is something the Dodgers will have to do in the deal unless the Nationals buy off a prospect from LA.
It’s hard to figure out exactly what it might cost LA for a rental of the veteran righty. Scherzer is by far the premiere arm that will be on the market this summer and the majority of contenders will be gunning for his services. While the Dodgers will not be parting ways with a top prospect, I could see the Nationals making a case for talent that is MLB-ready. The Dodgers will need to make a splash to potentially replace Bauer for potentially the rest of the season and this would be the biggest fish to catch. Expect them to pay a fair price for three months of the ace.
Starting Pitcher: Joe Ross – Nationals
If the Dodgers miss out on Scherzer, they could always turn to the Nationals impending free agent righty. Ross has been serviceable for much of the season. Over the last month, Ross has put together four quality starts in which he struck out 40 over 33 innings, leading to a 2.73 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. In his most recent start, Ross struck out 11 Dodgers over 6 ⅔ innings and you would be crazy to think that didn’t catch the attention of the LA front office.
Starting Pitcher: Zach Davies – Cubs
Speaking of catching the attention of the LA front office, it’s hard to ignore what Zach Davies did to the Dodgers in their home ballpark with his six innings of no-hit ball. Davies may not punch out hitters consistently but he tends to log consistent quality starts. Having Davies as a fifth starter for LA may not hurt and it won’t cost much with Davies out the door at the end of the year.
Starting Pitcher: Jon Gray – Rockies
Gray has had recent success on the hill from his last three starts, compiling 23 strikeouts in 17 innings for Colorado with a 2.65 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. While those numbers stray far from his career numbers, it may not be a bad time for Colorado to see what they can get for him considering he is a free agent at the end of the year. Trading within the division is always questionable, however, Colorado is in such a bind it feels like they will be desperate to get any positive return possible for Gray.
Relief Pitcher: Andrew Chafin – Cubs
If there is one player that makes too much sense for Los Angeles, it would be this guy. Chafin, a free agent after the 2022 season, has become a breakout star this season in the Cubs bullpen. In 35 ⅔ innings, Chafin has struck out 32 hitters and has recorded 17 holds while posting a 1.51 ERA and minuscule 0.79 WHIP. Chafin might be one of the most valuable arms and I expect the majority of contenders to be in on him. LA could really use a reliable lefty, especially with Victor Gonzalez hitting the IL.
Relief Pitcher: Brad Hand – Cleveland
Hand might be the most prominent name available at the deadline and rightfully so. The track record is there and he’s proven this season that he is one of the most consistent lefty relievers in the league. Hand will be a free agent at the end of the year, however, I don’t expect the return for his services will be cheap, especially if he keeps his WHIP down at 1.03 (he has a career 1.22 WHIP).
Relief Pitcher: Ian Kennedy – Rangers
Just when you think he’s done, Kennedy finds another way to become relevant. In Texas, Kennedy has posted a 2.86 ERA and 14 saves, something nobody could have predicted prior to the year. The 36-year-old will be a free agent at the end of the year and Texas is nowhere near competing for a playoff spot. If the Dodgers feel the need to add one more right-handed arm to their righty-dominated pen, this might be their guy.
Relief Pitcher: Kendall Graveman – Mariners
Graveman has been phenomenal this season, and should expect a nice pay raise in the offseason. His 1.03 ERA and 0.65 WHIP have been out-of-this-world numbers for Seattle, who will not find themselves in the running for a playoff spot. The price for Graveman might be a little steep for LA in comparison to Kennedy, however, he could be a great piece to join righties Jansen, Treinen, Nelson, and Kelly in the pen.
Outfielder: Starling Marte – Marlins
Out of all pieces listed here, Marte is probably the least likely name that LA lands. However, I love the potential of the Dodgers lineup with Marte in the heart of the order. Marte’s .290 average and 16 steals would be welcomed on a roster where only Justin Turner has a higher average, and Chris Taylor leads the team with half as many steals.
Marte is a free agent at the end of the year and the Marlins may try to cash in and see what the Dodgers could pony up to add an obvious improvement to the lineup. There are reports Marte is working on an extension with the Marlins. If that happens, then scratch this idea.
Third Base/Outfielder: Kris Bryant – Cubs
The Dodgers lineup may look great on paper. However, the production from Pollock has been incredibly inconsistent and the mix-and-match approach Dave Roberts loves is not quite working with Zach McKinstry following his return from the IL.
While Corey Seager is expected to return shortly after the All-Star break, there is no guarantee he will be fully healthy at shortstop, meaning Gavin Lux and Chris Taylor must be available in the wake of his absence. The Dodgers could really use a bat that is flexible to play infield and outfield. If the Cubs continue trending downward, Bryant will be the best available hitter on the market. The Dodgers would have to eat the remainder of his $19.5 million deal before he hits free agency in the offseason.
Outfielder: Joc Pederson – Cubs
Yes, we know the obvious connection. If you saw the ring ceremony for Pederson at Dodger Stadium, it was obvious this man has a true emotional connection to the team. He also is on a one-year deal with Chicago and may hear his name rumored at the deadline. What a wild reunion it would be if he found his way back in Los Angeles to help the Dodgers go back-to-back. This might be a homer pick and I fully admit that. However, it’s not out of the realm to see this become a legitimate move the Dodgers consider making.