Friday, August 19, 2022

Dodgers trade deadline preview: Biggest needs, targets, top trade chips as L.A. mulls run at Juan Soto

The Los Angeles Dodgers are entering the trade deadline season in an enviable position. They have both the best record and run differential in the National League, and they’ve staked out one of the largest division leads in all of Major League Baseball.

Of course, the Dodgers won’t be satisfied with a division title, their ninth in 10 seasons. What they want is another World Series trophy. The Dodgers hoisted the hardware after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but otherwise they’ve fallen short despite reaching at least the League Championship Series round six times over the past decade, and making three total trips to the World Series.

How might top executives Andrew Friedman and Brandon Gomes act at the deadline to help the Dodgers achieve their goals? Let’s take a look.

Needs

Unsurprisingly, the Dodgers don’t have a ton of glaring needs. They do have some areas that they could firm up, however, should the opportunity present itself.

The Dodgers have been without starters Walker Buehler and Andrew Heaney for more than a month, and it would track if they wanted to add another high-quality starter for insurance purposes. The injury bug has, likewise, enjoyed a buffet dinner in Los Angeles’ bullpen, sidelining more than a handful of contributors, including potential endgame trio Craig Kimbrel, Blake Treinen, and Daniel Hudson

If the Dodgers wanted to make a splash on the position player side of things, they could join the ranks of teams pursuing Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto. Otherwise, Friedman and Gomes have to be mostly pleased with their current group.

Potential targets

We invoked Soto’s name above, so it’s only right to include him here. He’s the top hitter available, a 23-year-old on a Hall-of-Fame track who could be in tow for three playoff runs without requiring an extension. The Dodgers have shown a willingness to pounce in these situations before — it’s how they landed Mookie Betts, after all — and they would seem reasonably well suited to make a compelling offer to the Nationals that includes prospects, young MLB players, and salary absorption.

If we’re including Soto, it’s only fair to list the top starter on the market, too, in Cincinnati Reds righty Luis Castillo. The Dodgers have reportedly already expressed interest in Castillo, who has another year of team control remaining. He has one of the best changeups in the game and he would provide insurance against another injury, or in case Buehler or Heaney are unable to return this season.

Hey, they can’t all be big names. Buck Farmer is the kind of under-the-radar addition that Friedman (and, presumably, Gomes) excels at. He’s a prime pitch-mix alteration candidate, too, as his sweeping slider is a good deal more effective than his heater. The Dodgers could help him out with that before he hits free agency at year’s end.

Potential trade chips

We’ll separate the Dodgers prospects by tiers.

Los Angeles’ top youngsters include catcher Diego Cartaya, right-hander Bobby Miller, third baseman Miguel Vargas, outfielder Andy Pages, and infielder Michael Busch. These are the kinds of players who could conceivably be heading out the door if the Dodgers do pursue those big names.

On a lower level, the Dodgers have several Rule 5-eligible prospects they may look to move to prevent an offseason roster crunch. Among them: third baseman Kody Hoese, outfielders Jonny DeLuca and Ryan Ward, and pitchers Carlos Duran and Jerming Rosario.

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