As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Los Angeles Dodgers, 65-29, 1st in NL West
In a crowded division with three teams (Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies) more than 10 games above .500, the Dodgers have begun to pull away from the field. At 30-4 since June 16, to say the Dodgers are hot right now is an understatement. Now 10.5 games ahead of Arizona for the division lead, the Dodgers head into this year's deadline with championship aspirations.
What moves have they made so far?
On April 26th, the Dodgers promoted top prospect and first baseman Cody Bellinger, who has been nothing short of spectacular in his first big league season. Bellinger, 22, is second in the NL with 26 home runs, and is maintaining an incredible .980 OPS. Los Angeles also recalled infielder Chris Taylor from AAA Oklahoma City in April, who's become a versatile regular in the Dodgers' lineup. Taylor has appeared in 75 games for LA already this season, including five different defensive positions: second base, third base, shortstop, left field, and center field.
The rotation has taken a severe beating in 2017, as starters Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and Scott Kazmir have all spent time on the Disabled List. That leaves Clayton Kershaw as the only starting pitcher not to appear on the DL this season. Not to mention prized arm Julio Urias underwent season-ending anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder, and is expected to miss most or all of 2018.
Are they buyers or sellers?
Well, they've got the best record in baseball as of July 18, and they haven't appeared in a World Series since 1988. They're buying. Los Angeles has assembled a strong core of talent, headlined by arguably the game's best pitcher in Clayton kershaw, and young star shortstop Corey Seager. An encouraging rebound season from Yasiel Puig has revitalized his career as his OPS closes in on .800 for the first time since 2014. And Wood, 26 and under team control through 2019, is 11-0 with 1.56 ERA and 10.5 K/9. All signs point toward an aggressive deadline in LA as the Dodgers look to finish off their fifth consecutive NL West division championship.
Who could they trade/trade for?
As reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Dodgers are open to dealing RHPs Brandon Morrow and Sergio Romo in order to balance their bullpen's righty/lefty breakdown. Morrow, 32, has a solid 2.30 ERA in 15.2 innings this season, as compared to an abysmal 6.12 ERA for the 34-year-old Romo. For more on that rumor from our Anthony Spaulding, click here.
As for who the Dodgers will target for big league upgrades, they've been rumored as pursuing help in the bullpen:
RP Zach Britton, 29, Free Agent after 2018
The left-handed Britton is exactly who the Dodgers are looking for at this year's deadline, and the Orioles closer comes with team control for the 2018 season. Although Britton has only thrown 14.0 innings in 2017 due to a forearm strain, his 1.41 ERA in 223.0 innings since 2014 speaks for itself. With the Orioles preparing to sell at the deadline, Britton and fellow relievers Brad Brach and Darren O'Day will be on the market for contending clubs. However, the Dodgers have expressed disinterest in trading outfield prospect Alex Verdugo, ranked #2 in the Dodgers system according to MLB Pipeline. Yet the Dodgers have impressive minor league talent and depth, and could acquire Britton if they make prospects inside their top five available.
RP Justin Wilson, 29, Free Agent after 2018
While the Dodgers were rumored to be pursuing Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez, he was sent to Arizona in a four-player deal Tuesday afternoon. The Dodgers are still onto one of his teammates, however, in left-handed setup/closer Justin Wilson. Wilson, who like Britton is controlled through 2018, is owed under $1.4 million the rest of this season, though he's due to earn much more in his third year of salary arbitration this offseason. Wilson, who took over the closer role in Detroit after Francisco Rodriguez' epic meltdown, has a strong 2.28 ERA and .906 WHIP in 35.1 innings pitching for a depleted Tigers staff. Martinez' trade indicates GM Al Avila is open for business as July 31st approaches, and Wilson is a reliable fallback option if a Britton deal were to fall apart.
The Dodgers will float their name around in Sonny Gray rumors before his eventual move to another National League contender, as they've done with both Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. It is not a question of if the Dodgers have the prospects to move for Gray, but whether they're willing to move them.
To make Kenley Jansen happy (and for many reasons much more important), the Dodgers will follow through in their pursuit for Britton to make a vaunting late-inning combo. His 2018 team control makes too much sense for the Dodgers not to cash in, even though Britton's trade value is significant. With most of the Dodgers talent controlled moving forward, Britton can help the Dodgers next season if 2017 comes up short.