First big trade chip goes to the Nationals
Last year the Nationals made their pitch to end their postseason drought by making an early trade on July 16th for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. That trade bolstered the Nationals bullpen but did not help them get past the Cubs in the 2017 NLDS though Doolittle and Madson did their part by limiting the Cubs to one run in seven innings.
This year the Nationals struck even earlier, acquiring Kelvin Herrera from the Royals to once again fortify the bullpen. Herrera was a key piece for the 2015 World Champion Royals setting up Wade Davis and would become the Royals closer when Wade Davis was traded to the Cubs. Kelvin was having a fine season as the Royals closer in 2018 but will probably setup Sean Doolittle who has been outstanding.
This is a great trade for the Nationals and Herrera should help them as they try to catch Atlanta and move on in the postseason. Herrera would have been a nice addition to the Dodger bullpen moving from Royal blue to Dodger blue. I don’t have much of a handle on the three pieces that went to the Royals in the deal but from what I have read none of the three were in the top ten of National prospects so the Royals went with quantity over quality.
The trade deadline is still six weeks away but maybe with the Nationals striking first, it will start an early trade market. MLB Trade Rumors lists the top 50 likely trade candidates and to their credit, Kelvin Herrera was number two on that list.
Players from that list that might make the Dodgers a better team?
1. Manny Machado, SS, Orioles: Der
8. Brad Hand, RP, Padres; I wanted Brad Hand last year, he would make a great addition to the Dodger bullpen but the price will be high as he has a great contract.
13. Craig Stammen, RHP, Padres: Stammen could help but the price probably would not be worth it.
14. Scooter Gennett, 2B, Reds: The Dodgers have one hole and that is 2nd base. Scooter has raked long enough now that his breakout season last year does not appear to be flukish.
50. Whit Merrifield, 2B, Royals: This guy might look good in Royal blue. From the MLB Rumors report:
Speaking of players with four years of control, Merrifield has emerged as a late-blooming star in Kansas City. He’s hitting .284/.363/.411 with elite baserunning, a bit of pop and intriguing defensive versatility. Merrifield plays an excellent second base and has also lined up on the outfield grass, including in center. The remaining club control and the fact that he won’t even be arb-eligible until the 2019-20 offseason are compelling reasons to keep him, but Merrifield is also already 29 and the Royals don’t expect to contend for years. Second base hasn’t been an in-demand position in recent years, but Merrifield is the type of player that should fetch a package featuring multiple prospects and/or near-MLB-ready assets.
You know who is not on that list? Jacob Degrom.
When it comes to trade chips, the Dodgers have one of the best in Alex Verdugo. When you think about the Dodger outfield you have Puig/Joc/Kemp with Kiké and Cody at the major league level.
At the highest minor league level, you have Alex Verdugo and Andrew Toles. Toles has already proven he is a major league outfielder when healthy, so what Toles has to prove now, is that he can play the game without constantly getting hurt. Alex Verdugo has done everything at the minor league level and now needs to prove he’scan produce enough to be a major league outfielder.
Dropping down one level you have Yusniel Diaz who might not be at the same level as Verdugo or Toles but appears to have the skills to be a major league outfielder. DJ Peters has more power than all of them put together but has to prove he can make enough contact to be a productive major league outfielder.
Even if Max Muncy becomes a pumpkin and you move Cody back to 1st base you still have Chris Taylor moving either back to the outfield in 2019 or to 2nd base when Corey Seager comes back. If Muncy does not become a pumpkin is a 1st or 2nd baseman? He has also played the outfield. It is clear the Dodgers have an abundance of outfielders and by July 31st, one of the folk listed above will be gone.
Do the Dodgers really want to part ways with Puig with a year and a half of control remaining on a very team friendly contract? Some say yes emphatically. L.A. has Andrew Toles, Alex Verdugo, DJ Peters and Yusniel Diaz in the minors, and they’ll have to find room in their outfield at some point. Puig’s value right now may be the highest it’s going to be, and there’s no denying they’re in need of pitching reinforcements.
My answer is, of course, no, and for the reasons that Stacie outlined on why Puig is such a valuable Dodger. You could make a case that Joc Pederson would be a great trade chip right now. He is smoking hot and is left handed as are Cody, Verdugo, and Toles. If you trade Puig you lose one of the potent right-hand bats in the lineup, if you trade Joc, his bat seems replaceable.
I do differ with Stacie in that she said the Dodgers are in need of pitching reinforcements. That would have been an accurate statement a week ago but I’m not sure it holds water today. The reinforcements were on the DL and every day one of them comes back. Kenta came back last week. Rich Hill comes back today. Clayton Kershaw seems to be on schedule to return as early as this weekend. In the blink of an eye, the rotation just picked up three key rotation pieces with the big guy being the biggest key. In about two or three weeks Walker Buehler will be back and guess what? By hitting the Dl for a month, Walker may not have very much of an innings restriction as the season progresses. Ryu is still on track for a return after the all-star game. That actually leaves the Dodgers with a surplus because the best pitcher on the team is now Ross Stripling.
The rotation on August 1st which is just six weeks away could be much stronger than it was on April 1st if Clayton can keep his health together. Finding Ross Stripling was much like the Mets finding Jacob DeGrom in 2014 at the age of 26. He was a fringe prospect who blew up when given a chance.
I would not hesitate to add Jacob Degrom to the Dodgers but that needs a bigger space and I’m at the end of mine right now.
The three-hit performance, already Verdugo’s fourth of June, pushed his season-long slash line to .350/.392/.522 through 44 Triple-A games. He has five doubles in his last three games, and his slugging percentage has jumped 70 points since Friday.