As Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reports, the Dodgers have “strong interest” in Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish. Morosi points out, however, that multiple teams are interested in Darvish—who is by no means guaranteed to be dealt before the deadline—and that the bidding for him remains in the early stages.
While A’s right-hander Sonny Gray has received the most trade buzz among starters this summer due to his controllability, Darvish would be the most impactful starter on the market if the Rangers decided to move him. In 21 starts this season, the four-time former All-Star has a 3.44 ERA while holding opponents to a .216 average with 143 strikeouts and 43 walks in 133.1 innings. He’s a free agent after the season and could be the perfect short-term upgrade for a team that wants to go all-in.
The Dodgers’ interest in Darvish is further complicated by the fact that their No. 1 starter, Clayton Kershaw, is now headed to the DL with lower back problems for the second straight season. Initial reports indicate that he’ll miss between 4-6 weeks, but obviously it’s difficult to create a timetable for recovery from a back injury. If Kershaw’s ailment turns out to be relatively minor and he’s back for the Dodgers’ postseason run, then Darvish could be slotted between him and surprisingly dominant lefty Alex Wood to create a shutdown “big three” for the playoffs.
But if Kershaw is out for an extended period, then the Dodgers might need to acquire a guy like Darvish to be the ace of a rotation that doesn’t feature another pitcher with a track record of success in the postseason. The Dodgers have more than enough mid-rotation starters, with Rich Hill, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Kenta Maeda also on the roster, but if Wood fades over the season’s final two months, they won’t have a reliable anchor in their rotation.
It’s previously been speculated that the Rangers will look to hold onto Darvish even if their odds of making the playoffs aren’t great (and they’re still in the hunt right now, sitting just 2.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card spot) because they want to re-sign him this offseason and don’t want to diminish the chances of that happening in any way. But perhaps if they feel that they can get a spectacular return for him and replenish a farm system that was damaged by their 2016 deadline acquisitions of Carlos Beltran, Jonathan Lucroy, and Jeremy Jeffress, they’ll jump at the chance.
Even though Darvish is a rental, he’s likely to bring back a major return if he’s dealt. In the Dodgers’ case, it seems likely that they’d have to give up at least one of their premium prospects: Yadier Alvarez, Alex Verdugo, Willie Calhoun, or Walker Buehler. Considering the return that the Cubs got for Aroldis Chapman despite his rental status last July, it seems very probable that Darvish will command an even bigger package in return, which means the Dodgers might have to part with two of their most highly-regarded prospects.