Normally, we’d be neck-deep in Trade Deadline Targets for the Dodgers. That is, if the trade deadline were always Aug. 31 (which it is this year), as opposed to July 31 (which it normally is). Unfortunately, there is nothing normal about 2020.
Andrew Friedman is no stranger to making trade deadline splashes — especially when it comes to the starting rotation. Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Yu Darvish were all acquired in consecutive years (2015-17) to bolster the rotation. With Walker Buehler struggling to find his footing and Wood fighting a bum shoulder (though, he’s throwing again), Friedman could target a starting pitcher. And seeing how not great Ross Stripling threw last night, perhaps the Dodgers will scour the market. Then again, with the way Tony Gonsolin has thrown thus far, perhaps they don’t need to. But you know Friedman will be looking.
However, there are complications to making trades this year.
16 (!) Playoff Teams
That’s right. Sixteen teams will make the postseason. As of press time, those teams are as follows:
American League: Yankees, A’s, Twins, Rays, Clevelands, Orioles, Astros, White Sox
National League: Dodgers, Cubs, Rockies, Barves, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Padres, Brewers
That’s … a lot. The standings will change a bit in the next 13 days, but any team within striking distance of the postseason probably aren’t going to be eager to move pieces from their rotation.
This is where we are right now when it comes to rotation upgrades, and there are definitely more pitching-needy teams than the Dodgers.
Limited Player Pool … Kinda
With COVID-19 not going away anytime soon, MLB made the decision to make only players in the 60-man player pool eligible to be traded. That’s partially why some teams put low-level minor-leaguers in their pools — Diego Cartaya comes to mind, seeing as he’s going on 19 years old and still a few years away from the majors. I’m not saying the Dodgers are looking to trade him, but if they needed to make a big splash, Cartaya would be very attractive to another team.
But then there’s players to be named later. Ken Rosenthal has a really good article on The Athletic about the deadline as a whole, but he went into detail on potential PTBNLs.
“A robust market for a player enables a team to get what it wants without any added conditions. But as teams get creative, a record number of PTBNs might be traded, removing some of the fun from the deadline. It would be difficult for teams to brag about the prospects they acquired if they could not publicly identify who those players were. Oh, but there’s more. The PTBNs would be those players who are not already part of 60-man pools. If a trade agreement filed with the league includes the standard ‘PTBN or cash,’ the cash amount can be no more than $100,000. And here’s where things could get sticky. By rule, PTBNs must be announced within six months of the transaction. Minor-league contracts currently are suspended. If they remain suspended through the offseason, it’s possible the league would not allow PTBNs to be dealt, forcing the team to accept the $100,000 (or less) instead. One executive says such a scenario is highly unlikely, but by the letter of the rule it could happen, and the league has discussed the possibility with teams.”
So, if there’s a lot of activity in the next couple weeks, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see teams trade PTBNLs at a higher rate than in years past.
That means prospects like Clayton Beeter, Jimmy Lewis, Bobby Miller, Andy Pages, Luis Rodriguez, Miguel Vargas, etc., are eligible to be dealt as PTBNLs, but with the Dodgers not being desperate to add talent before Aug. 31, I don’t see them getting moved.
Rosenthal goes into much more depth on this, but money is always a factor — pandemic or not.
Some teams are cash-poor due to not having fans. Don’t get me wrong, these billionaire owners aren’t going to file for unemployment benefits anytime soon, but revenues across the sport (and the sports world in general) are going to be greatly reduced.
Teams might be less willing to acquire a player making any significant money this season (and maybe even next). With the collective bargaining agreement expiring in December 2021, this could also be playing a factor into things. I don’t suspect it will impact the Dodgers one way or the other, should they want to make a deal.
We’ll see what happens in the next 13 days. I’m not expecting the Dodgers to do much, and it doesn’t make a ton of sense to do individual trade deadline targets (even if it is easy content). The Dodgers are at or near the top of every statistical category. The talent is there. Let’s just hope the necessary luck is there for them in the postseason this time.