Dodgers Hot Stove: The Last 48 Hours, And The Burners Are On “Low”

When the July 31st trade deadline comes and goes, it’s very possible that the only significant addition the Dodgers will have made will be the acquisition of Ricky Nolasco from the Florida Marlins back on July 6th.

The hottest team in baseball (26-6 since June 21st, 9-1 since the All Star Break) is in a unique position where they might be able to afford to stand pat, even if the division rival Diamondbacks make an acquisition such as veteran right-hander Jake Peavy to their starting rotation.

Part of the reason for this is that significant targets the Dodgers may have wanted to acquire have moved on.  Francisco Rodriguez went from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Baltimore Orioles, and Jesse Crain went from the Chicago White Sox to the Tampa Bay Rays.  Both the Orioles and the Rays are in the hunt for a playoff spot and seem unlikely to move either of those pitchers to another team for minor league prospects, and the Dodgers are certainly not looking to give up Major League talent for them.

There has been speculation that the Texas Rangers feel that they have more than enough bullpen depth and may be willing to move long-time closer Joe Nathan as part of a package to acquire an outfielder.   The Blog received text and inbox messages from a few sources stating the Rangers were interested in making a deal involving Nathan to acquire Andre Ethier.  However, it does not appear that the Dodgers have any real desire to move Ethier at this time.

Hard-throwing Joe Nathan has a history of closing out big games and the Texas Rangers appear to be making him available. However, their asking price for Nathan appears to be Andre Ethier (due to a possible upcoming suspension to slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz) and the Dodgers do not appear to be inclined to move their current center fielder at this time. (Image source: http://img.bleacherreport.net/img/images/photos/002/419/649/hi-res-167513115_crop_north.jpg?w=650&h=440&q=75)

Another name that has recently come onto the trade market that could offer the Dodgers some bullpen help is Kansas City Royals reliever Luke Hochevar.  However, there is a history of bad blood between the Dodgers and Hochevar, as the pitcher was drafted in the first round by the team in 2005 (actually the second time the team had selected him, using a much later round pick to try to draft him out of high school in 2002), but the hard-throwing righty reneged on a $2.98 million deal and went back to school at the University of Tennessee, eventually re-entering the draft and signing with the Royals.  The previous abandonment by Hochevar occurred during the Frank McCourt era, however, and if the team feels it needs another arm in the bullpen, Hochevar could get a last-minute look.

After struggling as a starting pitcher throughout his career, Luke Hochevar may have found his niche as a reliever, posting up a 1.89 ERA in 38 innings this season. The Royals are reported to be looking to move Hochevar, but a history of bad blood between Hochevar and the Dodgers over Hochevar reneging on signing a contract as a first round draft pick in 2005 does come into play in regards to the Dodgers’ potential desire to acquire him. (Image source: http://www.stjosephpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Royals1.jpg)

There is also some speculation that the Royals’ recent winning ways may encourage them to keep pieces like Hochevar and starting pitcher Ervin Santana rather than seeking trades.  The Royals brought in James Shields this past off-season in hopes of making a run at a playoff spot and currently sit at 51-51, 7 games behind division-leading Detroit and 5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the second AL Wild Card slot.  The Royals may look at their position and decide to hold onto their players, or may even potentially become deadline buyers if they think that there is a piece out there that can help them get back to the playoffs for the first time since they won the 1985 World Series.

There were also whispers over the weekend that this Blog’s speculation about a potential deal for Chase Utley and Cliff Lee with the Philadelphia Phillies might actually come to pass, with one source stating the two teams had been “negotiating through the night.”  However, there were no indications that the two sides were close, and now most of the Cliff Lee conversation seems to be directed toward a possible deal between the Phillies and the Boston Red Sox.

Dodgers Nation reports that Brian Wilson is still a possibility for the Dodgers, but that the Diamondbacks and the Pirates appear to be the front-runners for the right-hander’s services.  There’s also a question of whether or not Wilson can throw at 100% yet.  It may take an off season’s worth of further healing and rehab work to get the one-time Giants closer’s fastball back to its nearly-unhittable 97-98 MPH speed.

The Blog will continue to watch the trade market and the action over the next 48 (more like 44) hours and if there is a Dodger deal to be made, we’ll have it right here for you.

 

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