2021 Dodgers Trade Deadline Targets: RHP Kyle Gibson, Rangers

Kyle Gibson

The run on pitching trade deadline targets for the Dodgers continues with right-hander Kyle Gibson of the Texas Rangers, formerly of the Minnesota Twins.

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Previous entries

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Before we get started, this was an interesting tweet from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

https://twitter.com/Feinsand/status/1416825449167167491

After Tony Gonsolin‘s less-than-inspiring performance on Monday night, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Dodgers landed more than one starting pitcher before the July 30 deadline. It would be surprising if they don’t land at least one in the next nine days.

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Gibson, 33, is in the midst of the best season of his career. He earned his first trip to the All-Star Game and was the AL’s ERA leader … before he pizza’d when he should have french fry’d on Monday (5 IP, 8 ER).

He isn’t a flamethrower. He isn’t a high-strikeout guy. He’s a quality No. 4 starter (on the Dodgers) and a guy who can go out there and, hopefully, get 18 outs while keeping the opposing team from scoring too much.

Something he does quite well is control where the baseball goes on the field. Among qualified starters, he has the 6th-best ground ball rate at 51.3% (in company with Marcus Stroman) and the 17th-best HR/FB% at 10.6% (in company with Brandon Woodruff, Yu Darvish). The Dodgers’ best starter at getting ground balls is Dustin May (56%), but we know he’s out for the season. Clayton Kershaw is next (48.1%), but he’s currently on the injured list. It falls to Walker Buehler, with a pedestrian 42 GB%. Perhaps adding a guy like Gibson could be a welcome change. However, it would put more pressure on the infield defense, which hasn’t been great this season.

Gibson works with a legitimate 6-pitch mix (usage in parenthesis): sinker (35%), slider (16.5%), changeup (14.1%), cutter (13%), 4-seam fastball (11.9%) and curveball (9.5%). His sinker checks in at an average of 92.4 MPH, and it’s how he gets the vast majority of his grounders. His slider and changeup might be his best offerings. Opponents have a .191 wOBA on it, while his changeup sports a .212 wOBA. His slider is also his best swing-and-miss pitch with a 43.8 Whiff%. He started throwing a cutter for the first time in 2020 and has increased the usage on it in ’21, but it hasn’t fared well: .405 wOBA. If he were acquired, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Dodgers were to scrap that pitch or try to get him to improve it. That’d be something to watch.

If there’s one thing he’s really good at, it’s keeping the ball off the opposing hitters’ barrel.

He also has above-average command/control, with a 7.6 BB% this season (and 8.4% for his career). He’s just a good, solid, innings-eating pitcher.

Cost

Gibson is in the second year of a 3-year, $28 million deal he inked with Texas in the 2019-20 offseason. He’s earning $9 million this season and a paltry (by baseball standards) $7 million next season. According to Cot’s, he has an annual performance bonus of $500,000 if he reaches 180 innings (he’s at 107 now) and a roster bonus of $1 million if he’s on the active roster for 150 days (i.e., not on the injured list). He’s in the Top 25 in innings pitched, so that $1 million bonus is looking quite attainable.

Gibson could be one of three Rangers to move at this deadline. Joey Gallo‘s name has been out there, and he could fetch a decent haul. They could also get a lottery ticket or two for Ian Kennedy. But the bottom line is, they need young talent. Let’s see what a trade could look like.

Proposal

To TEX: Jacob Amaya, Carson Taylor, Kendall Williams
To LA: Gibson

The Rangers could be interested in someone in the Dodgers’ system doing his best impression of Gibson in Williams. He was acquired in the Ross Stripling deal and would make sense for a prospect-needed org like the Rangers. Amaya would give them a guy relatively close to the majors who can legitimately play shortstop (or second base, since Isaiah Kiner-Falefa is really good there). He has struggled with a bat, so some of the s shine is off his offensive profile, but if he gets back to doing what has made him successful, Amaya could still be a quality middle infielder. The Rangers would also land a catcher whom the Dodgers took in the 4th round of the 2020 draft in Taylor (and his hitting .291/.411/.391 with Great Lakes).

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The Dodgers might need two starting pitchers this deadline. If Gibson is the “second” one they acquire, then that’d be great. If he’s the “first” one, that would be putting a lot of faith in the likes of Gonsolin and David Price. The market might end up dictating that. Either way, he’d be a solid addition to the rotation and probably wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.