Trading away Joc Pederson or another top prospect would be absurd for the Dodgers. (Feelin' Kinda Blue)
We’re near the trade deadline, and the Dodgers are (again) one of the most talked about teams in baseball. Unsurprisingly, their name comes up in countless rumors that range from the pragmatic (bolstering their bullpen) to the absurd (trading away Joc Pederson and other top prospects for a starting pitcher).
It’s unclear how much truth there is to some of the rumors – sometimes it seems the Dodgers are only being used by agents to gain leverage for their clients (akin to the way the NFL and NBA have used Los Angeles and Seattle respectively to get cities to pony up money for stadiums). But as I wrote in my column last November, there isn’t a reason for the Dodgers to make any major trades that would mortgage their future.
Yeah, I get it. We’re in Los Angeles, and patience is boring. We’re used to getting Greg Maddux, Manny Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and other renowned players of that caliber at the always-suspenseful trade deadline. But just as I mentioned in November, the cost-benefit ratio of getting rid of a player like Pederson – who is batting .327 with 19 home runs and 24 stolen bases for the Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA) – or 17-year-old flamethrower Julio Urías isn’t favorable for the Dodgers considering: a) the players that are currently available on the trade market; b) they’re already among the best teams in the National League; and c) they already have arguably the best pitching staff in baseball in Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu.
The Dodgers’ farm system is one of the best in baseball, loaded with several star-caliber players (Corey Seager, Pederson, Urias) and guys who could be solid contributors on a winning team (Alexander Guerrero, Zach Lee, Onelki Garcia). So even considering that many baseball prospects don’t pan out, the depth and diversity of the Dodgers’ farm system is too promising to tinker with at the moment.
David Price has been mentioned as a possible target for the Dodgers since last offseason. If the Dodgers were to land the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner from the Tampa Bay Rays, they would be able to keep him until the 2016 offseason. After 2016, Price will likely land a contract somewhere between $150 and $200 million. Considering the Dodgers already have close to $400 million committed to Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu, I’m not sure how adding Price makes sense.
The Dodgers’ best major move is to subtract a star player instead of adding one. By trading Matt Kemp, the Dodgers could not only fix the logjam in the outfield, but also bolster the rest of the lineup while leaving the farm system largely intact.
Because Kemp is still owed $107 million between 2015 and 2017, and because the Rays are known for their reluctance to sign players to big contracts, a trade between the Dodgers and Tampa isn’t plausible.
But as we’ve learned in previous years, there are far more players available on the trade market than the rumors often indicate. This means that if the Dodgers do their due diligence in scouring the trade market to improve their bullpen and find another solid bat or two, there is no reason they shouldn’t find a landing spot for Kemp.
Considering the contracts that have been handed out recently to hitters older than Kemp, $107 over five years for a 29-year-old just two years removed from being one of the elite players in baseball who can still hit isn’t as scary for potential suitors as it may have been five years ago.
I know trades are exciting and getting new star-caliber players reignites hope among fans, but let’s not get carried away this July. The Dodgers fell two wins short of the World Series. When you’re that close to a championship it doesn’t mean you need to go spend away carelessly, you just need to iron out the kinks.