As Ken Rosenthal of FOX and MLB Network reports, the Dodgers have zeroed in on Rangers starter Yu Darvish, Athletics starter Sonny Gray, and Orioles starter Zach Britton as they look to upgrade their pitching staff at the deadline. Rosenthal adds that their decision will “likely hinge on asking prices,” which seems to indicate that they’ll try as hard as they can to make a major upgrade without giving up star prospects like Alex Verdugo and Walker Buehler.
Darvish would likely make the most sense for the Dodgers, as he’s the only rental of the three and thus would prevent the Dodgers from having to add more payroll beyond 2017. With Friday’s news that teams spending over $237 million will be hit with a 42.5 percent tax on top of the competitive balance tax and have their first-round pick dropped 10 spots, this would seem to be a rather significant concern for Los Angeles, which has a payroll exceeding $251 million this season. Since he’s on an expiring contract, Darvish would also likely cost the least, though there have been mixed messages about whether Texas is fully intent on trading him.
Gray, who is arbitration-eligible through 2019, would be an impactful addition to the Dodgers’ rotation, providing protection in case Clayton Kershaw’s recovery is slower than expected while also lessening their need to rely on mid-rotation types like Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu. He’d also provide some right-handed balance to their rotation, which is mostly left-handed when healthy with guys like Kershaw, Ryu, Alex Wood, and Rich Hill. But he won’t come cheap, and young players like Verdugo, Buehler, Yadier Alvarez, and Julio Urias would almost surely have to be part of the trade talks.
Britton could provide a major upgrade to the Dodgers’ already-dominant bullpen, combining with Kenley Jansen to form a shutdown late-inning duo. He still has a year of arbitration left, but he’s already making $11.4 million this year and is due for another major raise this winter, so he would even further strain the Dodgers’ payroll. And while he’s collected 55 straight saves, he’s actually been rather shaky this year, posting a 3.50 ERA with a .342 opponent batting average, 14 strikeouts, and eight walks in 18 innings while dealing with a nagging left forearm strain. The Dodgers might want to think twice before dealing key future assets in exchange for him.