It’s getting down to the final few hours before the trading deadline (4pm ET / 1pm PT), and it’s simultaneously the most fun and nerve-wracking day of the year. On one hand, it’s fun to think about what sort of upgrades your big league roster might have by the end of the day; on the other, it’s terrifying to think what your general manager might consider an “upgrade” and which prospects will be heading off to other clubs.
Last year, we said goodbye to Logan Bawcom, Josh Lindblom, Leon Landry, & Ethan Martin to bring Brandon League & Shane Victorino on board. The year before it was the massively-maligned Trayvon Robinson for Stephen Fife, Tim Federowicz, & Juan Rodriguez move that now looks so, so much better in retrospect; the year before that, it was the truly dark day that saw Andrew Lambo, Blake DeWitt, & James McDonald heading out the door in deals for Octavio Dotel, Ted Lilly, & Ryan Theriot.
So as you can see, it never ends up being simple on this day, and the fact that the Dodgers don’t appear to have any glaring holes hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from circulating. If you’re worried about the possibility of Zach Lee or Joc Pederson or Ross Stripling heading out the door, well, it’s going to be a stressful day.
Still, the rumors around the Dodgers so far have been pretty light, mainly focusing on pitching. Yesterday’s signing of Brian Wilson added further depth to a bullpen that probably needed it, excellent recent performance notwithstanding, and I’m somewhat enthused by the quote that J.P. Hoornstra picked up from Ned Colletti saying that if he didn’t sign Wilson, there were other routes he could have gone to get a reliever, ”but it was going to be trading prospects” and “we didn’t want to do that.” There’s always some amount of public posturing this time of year — remember, it feels like it was about ten minutes ago that the White Sox said they would be “building around Jake Peavy” — but it’s good to hear anyway.
So if I had to put money on it, I’d say that the deadline passes with the Dodgers making a minor move for a depth reliever, or perhaps nothing at all. After all, when your team has won something like 78 of the last 32 games, there’s not a whole lot you really need to do.
Now all that being said, you know that conversations have been had with just about every team, even if they never come to fruition. You imagine that the Dodgers have at least touched base a few times with Philadelphia about Cliff Lee or Chase Utley, and I’m certain that whatever names the Phillies threw back in return would be enough to make your face melt. We all know how Colletti likes his July 31 deals, and while he may be less motivated to do anything this year, let’s not pretend that he’s kicking his cowboy boots up today and turning off his cell phone.
Other than the bullpen and possibly another starter — who could help the bullpen by pushing Chris Capuano there, where I’ve long wanted him — the one position we hear rumblings about is at second base, where Mark Ellis is in the midst of one of the worst seasons of his career. I believe they value his defense and “clubhouse presence,” and he has been better over the last few weeks, so I don’t expect that they’ll go crazy trying to upgrade. That said, the name “Howie Kendrick” keeps floating around out there, and I keep hearing whispers that the Dodgers have interest.
The Dodgers and Angels haven’t matched up on a trade since 1993 — what, you don’t remember “Reggie Williams for Mike James“? — and hadn’t prior to that since 1976, though it should be noted that the Angels didn’t mind trading within their own division to send Alberto Callaspo to Oakland yesterday. That’s a team that’s in full sell mode, and Kendrick, who turned 30 three weeks ago and is signed for $9.35m next year and $9.5m in 2015, represents an interesting proposition.
Kendrick has turned himself into a solid enough defensive second baseman, and he carries a .301/.344/.446 line into play today, along with 11 homers. If he’s not quite the glove that Ellis is, his bat his far superior, given that he’s working on his seventh consecutive season of being worth at least 98 wRC+, something that Ellis has hit just four times. Kendrick’s also six years younger, and would plug the hole at second base that the Dodgers currently don’t have a solution for, which is why they have interest in Alexander Guerrero and why we’re all terrified about Robinson Cano.
Considering he’s not a rental and that the Angels have too much money tied up in this team to punt on next year as well, a productive second baseman in his prime with a reasonable contract isn’t going to come cheaply. The reported asking price is “a front-line, MLB-ready starting pitcher,” and while we know how much stock to put into reports like that, it’s not unfair for the Angels to think big. The Dodgers may not have that in their system — no, Matt Magill is not going to be the centerpiece there — and even you believe Zach Lee fits that bill, I can easily see most not wanting to pay that price.
Otherwise? Well, how about Michael Morse, who is reportedly “very available” and is someone I’ve liked for years, despite his PED past, as a righty power 1B/OF bench bat to upgrade on Scott Van Slyke? Or Daniel Murphy, who can play multiple positions and is someone we know the Dodgers have had interest in before?
However this all turns out, it’s going to be an interesting day (not even including the impending Biogenesis suspension announcements), and with three games kicking off this afternoon before the deadline, #hugwatch is in full effect. But it won’t necessarily be the end, will it? Don’t forget, last year at this time, we had absolutely no idea that Joe Blanton, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto would all still end up in town.
Let’s hear it below — what’s going to happen today?