Last week, I opined about the upcoming trade deadline and said it’s going to be different. I also said we aren’t going to do a traditional trade deadline series where we analyze who might be a good fit for the Dodgers and what said player(s) might cost.
With the deadline five days away, we’re going to do an abbreviated version of the trade deadline series. The Dodgers don’t have any glaring needs or weaknesses — something Andrew Friedman echoed on Sunday’s broadcast — so finding players who make sense as trade deadline targets for LA is going to be a bit tricky.
This development, however, could make a trade for a starting pitcher a little more likely.
Not the worst news, but not what you want, either.
I’m not going to include any position players because, well, the Dodgers don’t need help in that department. And this will be broken into two parts — one for starting pitchers, one for relievers.
Editor’s note: Some of the players listed as “possible trade candidates” are not on the 60-man roster, but could be dealt as players to be named later.
RHP Dylan Bundy, Angels
Bundy has been about the only good thing about the Angels’ pitching staff. He has a 2.58 ERA, 3.08 FIP and a 23.7 K-BB%. The $5 million signing in the offseason is going to pay off for Anaheim, as they’ll get a decent prospect package in return for one of the best pitchers sure to be available before the deadline.
I’m not sure how much he improves the Dodgers’ rotation, but if they don’t want to rely on rookies like Tony Gonsolin or Dustin May, or a (currently) struggling Ross Stripling, Bundy could be an alternative. But the Angels will have many more desperate suitors for Bundy’s services than the Dodgers.
RHP Mike Clevinger, Clevelands
The most talented pitcher potentially available, Clevinger was the subject of some offseason trade rumors as Cleveland is desperate for some offense. However, his boneheadedness (along with his teammate further down this list) led to a demotion. He has since returned on the majors and could end up giving an acquiring team quite a bump. He’s also under team control through the 2022 season, so he’s going to cost a ton.
I mean, the Dodgers could make that move, but I’m not sure they want or need to at this point. Any trade would cost premium prospects and/or players off the MLB roster.
LHP Danny Duffy, Royals
After strong 2016 and ’17 seasons, it looked like Duffy was on the verge of a big-time breakout. Since then, though, he has been rather pedestrian — 4.63 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 11.2 K-BB%. He’s off to a decent start in 2020 (3.99 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 20.8 K-BB%) and is a free agent after the 2021 season. That, simultaneously, gives the Royals incentive to trade and keep him. If they trade him now, they could get a pretty solid return. But the could also hold him until the offseason or even next year’s trade deadline as he’s on an extremely affordable deal and they’re just 2 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot. They do have a ton of young pitching prospects — Kris Bubic, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, Brady Singer, not to mention 2020 No. 4 pick Asa Lacy — so moving Duffy now could be in their best interest.
Duffy did miss his most recent start with forearm fatigue, but he seems to be getting over that without an injured list stint. He a 5-pitch pitcher (fastball, slider, changeup, curveball, sinker), with his slider being his best offspeed offering.
RHP Kevin Gausman, Giants
Gausman, former Dodger draftee, got off to a quick start this season, and was pretty impressive against LA. He has a 4.65 ERA, 3.12 FIP and a 27.1 K-BB%. Like Bundy (his former Baltimore teammate), he was signed on the cheap ($9 million) and is a free agent after the season. He was a potential free-agent target this past winter, so the Dodgers are at least somewhat familiar with him. The Giants are playing well right now (currently the No. 8 seed in the NL), so they may not move Gausman. But they made the same mistake last summer by not trading Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, only to collect compensatory draft picks after they signed elsewhere. Gausman probably won’t get a qualifying offer this winter, so that return is off the table.
RHP Lance Lynn, Rangers
Lynn, after Clevinger, could end up being the best pitcher traded by Monday. He has a year left on his deal ($10 million) and, over the last two seasons, has been among the best pitchers in the game. He has thrown at least 100 pitches in 31 consecutive starts, which is an amazing accomplishment. This season, Lynn has a 1.59 ERA, 3.38 FIP and 20.5 K-BB%. He is the unquestioned ace of the Rangers’ staff and should bring back a nice return for Texas. And there might be legs to this rumor.
Potential trade candidates: Busch, Gray, Hoese, Rios, Ruiz, Stripling, Miguel Vargas, White
LHP Mike Minor, Rangers
Minor was a favorite of mine after his spectacular 2017 season. The Rangers snagged him on a 3-year deal and moved him back into the rotation. He was a pretty good mid-rotation guy in 2018 and ’19, but he has taken a step back in ’20. He has an ugly 6.75 ERA, 5.30 FIP and 14.6 K-BB%. His velocity has dipped by 2 MPH, which isn’t what you want to see, especially seeing as the 32-year-old is going to be a free agent after the season. He may not be a better option than anyone the Dodgers have right now. If they did acquire him, I’d be interested to see them move him back into relief.
RHP Zach Plesac, Clevelands
Plesac was at the center of the boneheadness mentioned in the Clevinger section. He broke quarantine on the road, made a stupid video about it on Instagram and was summarily demoted to Cleveland’s alternate site. He’s still there, and it doesn’t sound like he’s coming back anytime soon. He’s a real candidate to be dealt, but you have to account for the *gestures in the air* all of that. In three starts, he has a 1.29 ERA, 2.39 FIP and a 28.6 K-BB%. If he is dealt, it’ll cost quite a bit to get him and, honestly, he’d probably end up with a more pitching-desperate club than the Dodgers.
Potential trade candidates: Gonsolin, Gray, Hoese, Muncy, Ruiz, Taylor
The Dodgers definitely don’t need to make a move, but Friedman never shies away from a chance to acquire talent — especially premium talent. If the Dodgers aren’t comfortable with two-fifths of their potential late-season/postseason rotation being made up of two rookies (not to mention a somewhat inconsistent 24-year-old in Julio Urias), a guy like Lynn or Clevinger would make sense. Both would have high acquisition costs, but each would improve the rotation and, in turn, make the Dodgers’ already strong bullpen even deeper.
Next up: Relief pitcher trade targets