A couple of weeks ago, the Blog kicked off the month leading up to the trade deadline by speculating about a list of names that the Dodgers may consider going after by the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. One of those names actually did come to fruition when Ricky Nolasco was acquired from the Miami Marlins for minor league pichers Steven Ames, Josh Wall and Angel Sanchez on July 6th.
The Dodgers have a variety of issues to potentially address. With the questionable health in their starting rotation, one more starting pitcher might be in their sights. The bullpen has been rounding into shape, but the right bullpen acquisition might put the team in a better position to make a playoff run. While the team has had injuries in the outfield, the team still has more concerns about its infield, which drops off dramatically from a defensive standpoint when Mark Ellis is injured, although Hanley Ramirez has looked much improved at shortstop over last year. Additionally, Juan Uribe has played well this season, but has done well when played as part of a platoon and not playing every day, while he has shown that playing every day the past two seasons might put too much wear and tear on his body over the course of a long season. A player who can play second base or third base may help the Dodgers solve at least some of their infield woes.
Let’s take a look now at who might be on the market that could fill the Dodgers’ needs.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez – Right Handed Starting Pitcher (Free Agent)
Here’s an acquisition the Dodgers may look at making, though Gonzalez’s value as a starting pitcher this season may be questionable. However, unlike Yasiel Puig, who had to work his way back into shape after his defection from Cuba, Gonzalez appears to be in game shape right now and some reports indicate that he is game-ready. Word is that Gonzalez is expected to command a contract in the 5 year, $60 million range, making him much younger and much more affordable than Cliff Lee, and in some ways more desirable than Chicago Cubs right-hander Matt Garza. MLB Trade Rumors has broken the news that Gonzalez is now authorized to sign with a big league team, and the Dodgers are thought to be favorites to get the highly coveted Cuban righty who’s fastball tops out at around 97 miles per hour.
Matt Garza – Right Handed Starting Pitcher (Chicago Cubs)
Garza might be the hottest name as far as starting pitchers on the free agent market are concerned. The Chicago Cubs’ righty has been very good lately, sporting a 1.66 ERA in the month of July in 21 2/3 innings and a 6-1 record with a 3.17 ERA over the course of the entire season. Garza appears healthy and ready to help a contender, but would require quite a return of prospects for the Cubs to part with him, and bidding is expected to be steep. Zack Lee and Joc Pederson are likely to be Cubs trade targets, and it’s questionable if letting go of one or both of these prospects for Garza will turn out to be the right deal for the Dodgers going forward. If Garza is healthy, he could give the rotation a significant push, but unless the Dodgers are able to follow up by signing him long-term (and unless Garza is healthy if locked in long term,) the price on Garza may be too high for what he’s worth.
Hiroki Kuroda – Right Handed Starting Pitcher (New York Yankees)
At age 38, Kuroda continues to be serviceable in a Yankees uniform and may be the most accomplished starting pitcher on the trade market so far this season. The righty is 8-6 with a 2.65 ERA this season and would fit in well with Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu and Nolasco in a rotation that would feature four veterans and the streaky Ryu who has pitched very well in his first season here in the U.S. Kuroda opted to stay with the Dodgers during the 2011 season instead of taking a deadline trade that would’ve landed him with a contender and was a big part of why the Dodgers were one of the best teams in baseball in the second half that year. A return to Blue might just be Kuroda’s best chance at pitching in October this year as the Yankees continue to be decimated by injuries.
Cliff Lee – Left Handed Pitcher (Philadelphia Phillies)
Lee looks unlikely to move right now, but after Ned Colletti got the Dodgers in on the Manny Ramirez competition and came out with a guy who was arguably the National League’s best hitter over the last two months of the 2008 season out of nowhere, don’t be surprised if the Dodgers try to get something done to acquire Lee if they can’t acquire a piece like Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Chances are good that Lee could be packaged with Chase Utley in a deal that could include both Joc Pederson and Zack Lee, though the Dodgers take on a lot of contract and age if they make that deal.
Phil Hughes – Right Handed Starting Pitcher, New York Yankees
Phil Hughes’ name has come up recently as a possible piece to get moving out of New York. While nothing other than wild speculation ties Hughes to the Dodgers, he is an available arm. Hughes is 4-8 with a 4.55 ERA this season. It’s possible that a move out of New York to the National League West could be enough to clear Hughes’ head and get him back on track. Once one of the Yankees’ best pitching prospect, Hughes looks like he’s about washed up in New York. Even if Hughes is not traded this season, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees bringing back Hughes on anything less than a team-friendly contract after he hits free agency at the end of the 2014 season.
Francisco Rodriguez – Right Handed Relief Pitcher (Milwaukee Brewers)
K-Rod is not the dominant setup man or closer that he once was for the Angels in the early 2000’s, but he has a lot left in tank and could help the Dodgers shore up their bullpen significantly. Rodriguez is learning to pitch as he ages and is 9-for-9 in save opportunities this year, sporting a 1.19 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He could be the perfect setup man to closer Kenley Jansen during a playoff run, and can even still close games out himself in a pinch.
John Axford – Right Handed Relief Pitcher (Milwaukee Brewers)
Axford is another pitcher that the Dodgers are looking at. The former Brewers closer struggled through the first part of the season, but then got on a scoreless streak that topped 20 innings and got his ERA down to 3.76. There is some risk that Axford, like Brandon League, might not be able to pitch consistently. Still, the righty could find himself effectively taking League’s place in the bullpen if the Dodgers decide to swing a trade to acquire him.
Oliver Perez – Left Handed Relief Pitcher (Seattle Mariners)
Perez could be on the move and is an affordable piece, as he’s owed well under a million dollars for the remainder of the season. The lefty is 2-2 with a 1.75 ERA and two saves this season working mostly as a setup man in the Mariners’ bullpen. The 31 year old Perez appears to have finally found his stride and would be an excellent edition to the Dodgers ‘pen for the right price.
Aramis Ramirez – Third Baseman (Milwaukee Brewers)
It seems like the Brewers are the team most likely to hold pieces that the Dodgers may need. Ramirez has shown signs of decline, but some would argue that despite this season’s stats he is still an offensive upgrade over Juan Uribe and is under contract for next year which would give the Dodgers a stopgap while Corey Seager develops. Ramirez is hitting .271 with 5 HR and 26 RBIs this season which is, in fact, comparable to Uribe, but the potential that his bat may break out may make Ramirez worth exploring if the cost to acquire him is low.
Mike Moustakas – Third Baseman (Kansas City Royals)
Moustakas’s rising star in Kansas City has stalled out. Once thought to be the hottest third base prospect in the game, Moustakas is hitting .215 with 6 HR and 17 RBIs. The Royals have been attempting to rebuild from the ground up, and Moustakas could be pried away. Some would argue that Moustakas will come around and start hitting again. Chances are that Moustakas would cost the Dodgers Corey Seager, which means that a move to Moustakas would mean that the Dodgers consider the future to be now and not in 2014 or 2015 when Seager has developed and is Major League ready.
Chase Utley – Second Baseman (Philadelphia Phillies)
There is much speculation that Utley, who’s contract is up this year, could be on the move. The 34 year old second baseman has 11 homers on the season and hit .471 with 3 HR in a series earlier this year at Dodger Stadium, but outside of that has put up HR and RBI totals similar to that of incumbent second baseman Mark Ellis. There is some speculation that the Pasadena native who played his college ball at UCLA could play third base, but he has not played that position regularly since college. Utley comes with his own set of problems, his fielding percentage is a career-worst .965, he has injury problems, and he has hit only .224 in the month of July. Utley may also come with a high cost, with the Phillies surely to ask for at least one of Joc Pederson, Zack Lee or Corey Seager, and speculation being that the best way to acquire Utley would be to get him in a package with Cliff Lee.
We’ll continue to evaluate the hot stove trade market as we move toward the July 31st deadline, but right now these are some of the names on teams that look like they are most likely going to be selling that are popping up.
- Why Chase Utley Would Be A Terrible Idea For The Dodgers (ericsdodgersblog.wordpress.com)
- Talking Trade Deadline: Who Could Wear Blue Down The Stretch (ericsdodgersblog.wordpress.com)
- MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Chatter Regarding Matt Garza, Alex Rios and Phil Hughes (bleacherreport.com)
- Playing Fact or Fiction with MLB’s Top Trade Rumors (bleacherreport.com)
- Report: Red Sox, Rangers Among Teams Pursuing Matt Garza at MLB Trade Deadline (nesn.com)
- MLB Trade Deadline 2013 News: Yankees To Pursue Phillies’ Michael Young; L.A .Dodgers Interested In Trade For Red-Hot Cubs Starter (latinospost.com)
- Matt Garza Acquisition Could Make Red Sox Favorites for American League Title (nesn.com)
- Giancarlo Stanton unlikely to be traded by Marlins, per report (sbnation.com)
- Garza denies being told he will be traded (voices.suntimes.com)