The Los Angeles Dodgers are getting ready for the trade market to pick up and are specifically focused on the starting pitching market. Atop their trade wish list is Jordan Zimmermann, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN.com.
Behind Zimmermann is Reds ace Johnny Cueto and Tigers lefty David Price, on a short list of premier starting pitching targets. The Dodgers have had great starts from their top two pitchers, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but they've lost Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu to season-ending injuries, testing their depth early.
Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias have provided great production as fill-ins and Brett Anderson has done well in 12 starts this season. Having another major league-caliber pitcher, much less an ace like one of the above, would lessen the burden on Bolsinger and Frias and only have to rely on one of those come postseason time.
Is a deal for Zimmermann plausible?
Because it's the Dodgers, any deal is possible. They have a deep farm system of arms plus the two righties they just drafted: Walker Buehler and Kyle Funkhouser. Andre Either might be playing himself onto another team as well, with a .875 OPS that should be attractive to most teams.
Where a deal may fall flat though is the rotation depth of the Nationals. When the 2015 season started, the Nats starting rotation was the talk of baseball. Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister. Just saying aloud conjures visions of dancing World Series rings in your head. That was the rotation entering 2015. Stephen Strasburg was the team's fourth starter. Oh, and they could hit too. It's what made them the hot pick for the World Series this season.
But wait, not so fast. Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister have both been injured, so Zimmermann is more important than ever. The 29-year-old is a free agent and the end of the year -- and the Nationals will have to pay Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond, which could put the team in a financial position they might be unwilling to consider. Trading Zimmermann was perceived to be the easier choice, especially after signing Scherzer and having the depth at the position. But with the injuries to the rotation, the Nats may need to risk it and hold on to Zimmermann for the playoff push.
In that scenario the Dodgers have other options. They could call up the Reds or the Tigers for Cueto or Price, both of which are very good backup options to have. Even if those plans fall through, they could always call up Ruben Amaro and talk to the Phillies about Cole Hamels.