In the final days before last year’s trade deadline, the Dodgers made three moves to reinforce their roster. They picked up Hanley Ramirez & Randy Choate from Miami, Shane Victorino from Philadelphia, and Brandon League from Seattle. Ned Colletti followed that up by adding Joe Blanton in a waiver deal on August 3, then the massive Nick Punto deal on August 25.
I don’t think we can expect quite that amount of activity this year, largely because the roster has so many long-term deals in place that there’s only so much flexibility to be had. But as the July 31 deadline looms in just a touch less than two weeks, the one thing we can safely say is that the Dodger roster we’ll see when the second half kicks off tomorrow in Washington is not going to be the same one that we’ll see when the team starts a series in Wrigley Field on August 1.
So consider this an open thread — how many moves do you think are going to happen? For who? I’ll start with some predictions of my own.
1) They’ll trade for a reliever, and we’ll all hate the price, then later realize it wasn’t so bad.
I know League is basically the most unpopular guy in Los Angeles right now, but we didn’t really love or hate the trade that brought him to town last year. (I believe I called him “a guy“.) But I didn’t really mind losing Leon Landry in the least, and I haven’t changed my mind on that now that the Dodgers have more outfielders than they know what to do with and Landry has a .269 OBP in his age-24 season for the Seattle Double-A affiliate. I liked Logan Bawcom, but righty middle relievers are a dime-a-dozen. So when the Dodgers make a trade for a reliever — and they almost certainly will — let’s try to keep it in perspective.
So who might be among the possibilities? Jesse Crain is the big name, though he’s currently injured and won’t come cheaply. If the Twins would ever consider moving Glen Perkins, he’d generate enormous interest. Then there’s teams who have nearly their entire bullpens open for business, like Steve Cishek, Chad Qualls, Ryan Webb, or Mike Dunn in Miami or John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, Mike Gonzalez, or Jim Henderson in Milwaukee, or Jose Veras or former Dodger farmhand Wesley Wright in Houston. We know the Yankees would happily move Joba Chamberlain, we don’t know what the Phillies plan to do with Jonathan Papelbon, and Seattle might consider moving their second questionable closer in two years, Tom Wilhelmsen. There’s also the ever-present threat of Kevin Gregg looming, though I doubt they’d go in that direction.
I think a large part of this for the Dodgers depends on what happens with their current pitching situation, because they may yet give Carlos Marmol a shot and at some point you need to figure out what to do with Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly, assuming neither stick in the rotation.
2) They’ll trade for a starter, but it won’t be Matt Garza.
I still believe the team’s primary target is Cliff Lee, figuring that his contract might allow them to spend dollars rather than prospects, but so far the Phillies haven’t seemed like they’d be willing to sell. So if you’re looking for a third ace to go with Clayton Kershaw & Zack Greinke, I wouldn’t hold your breath. That said, I think that they would like to add one more piece just to improve on Capuano & Stephen Fife and hedge against concerns over Hyun-jin Ryu‘s possible decline, so another starter remains likely.
The options here, unfortunately, remain thin. You could gamble on Yovani Gallardo‘s declining velocity or pay far too much for what Bud Norris, Kyle Lohse, or Phil Hughes are worth, or risk that the currently-injured Jake Peavy could ever remain healthy. Since this seems like more of a “nice to have” than a “must”, this might be the kind of thing that happens in an August waiver deal, like with Blanton last year — perhaps getting back after Lee if the Phillies fall apart.
3) They’ll trade for an infielder, but it won’t be the one we want.
I’ve been pretty on board with the idea of going after Chase Utley, but that’s really easier said than done. In addition to the uncertainty of what Philadelphia is going to do, Utley’s a little different than Lee in that he’s seen as a team legend, and so there’s a certain value to the idea of keeping him in one uniform for his entire career, like Derek Jeter.
But there’s still some room for improvement in the infield, because Mark Ellis is declining, there’s no good backup plan at shortstop should Hanley Ramirez get injured for a third time this year, Juan Uribe is hardly irreplaceable, and the bench is full of far too many no-hit utility guys. This all terrifies me about the prospect of Michael Young, a Covina native who is probably the Colletti-iest player to ever live. I’ll get into Young in more detail should it become necessary, but we can briefly say that he was a valuable player for a long time who is now having a worse season than Uribe, yet continues to be among the most overrated players in sports, having been an awful fielder for years while causing more than a few problems in Texas. (Case in point: in the midst of being one of the worst players in baseball last year, there were still stories like “Young’s value goes way behind statistics” being written.)
So while I live in fear of Young… other non-Utley options may include Daniel Murphy, Darwin Barney, Alexei Ramirez, Placido Polanco, Rickie Weeks, Jeff Keppinger, and Luis Valbuena. Needless to say, it’s not pretty out there.
4) They’ll sign a Cuban player, and you’ll have never heard of him.
This is more a shot in the dark than anything, because we all know Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez at this point, and the Dodgers are reportedly very much in the mix to sign him. Maybe they will, but just to be contrary, I’ll say that they don’t get him, and instead end up with outfielder Dariel Alvarez or 27-year-old pitcher Dalier Hinojosa. Hell, for all I know, they’ll sign all three; we’ve seen very clearly by this point how much the new regime values the idea of spending liberally in the international market after how poorly the team did during the McCourt era, and that’s an incredibly welcome change.
So there’s how I see the next two weeks of the trade season shaping up… let’s hear your thougths.