You can never have too much starting pitching. With the way that injuries mount up these days, having a glut of capable pitchers is one of the best ways to ensure long-term success in baseball.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers, it currently stands to reason that they have almost 10 rotation worthy eligible starting pitchers. The list, of course, is headlined by all-time great ace Clayton Kershaw. The three-time Cy Young Award winner would never be traded, especially not at the height of his ability, but that doesn’t mean that someone else might not be dealt.
As Mike Axisa at CBS Sports put it, the Dodgers might be able to deal one starting pitcher for a fix at another position:
[Alex] Wood makes the most sense as a trade candidate. Everyone ahead of him on the depth chart is either untouchable (Kershaw) or making significant money and carrying quite a bit of health risk. Wood is only 25, he has a career 112 ERA+, and he’s under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2019.
If you were to go down the list of starting pitchers for the Dodgers, it’s reasonable to assume that Wood could be the best option to be dealt at this point. The team just signed left-hander Scott Kazmir and right-hander Kenta Maeda, so neither of them are going to be traded anytime soon. From there, though, it gets interesting.
Brett Anderson accepted the $15.8 million qualifying offer that the Dodgers extended to him this offseason, and it appears as if he won’t be moved due to his expiring salary. Anderson is still just 27 years old, and he’s coming off of a relatively solid season last year for the team as he posted a 3.69 ERA in 180.1 innings. He’s a serviceable fourth starter.
Fellow lefty Hyun-jin Ryu is coming off of shoulder surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2015 season, but he’s signed through the 2018 season and just started to throw off of a mound again. No way the Dodgers move him right now without seeing what they have first.
32-year old right-hander Brandon McCarthy is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he still has another three years and $31 million attached to him as he’s signed through at least the 2018 season. It seems nearly impossible to move him at this point, at least until teams see how he’s recovered from the procedure.
Right-hander Mike Bolsinger had a quality 2015 with the Dodgers as he sported a 3.62 ERA in 109.1 innings, striking out 98 batters. While he will be turning 28 on January 29, Bolsinger presents the Dodgers with a quality arm for low cost as he’s not even arbitration eligible until after the 2017 season. It’d be unwise to trade him now.
Brandon Beachy was re-signed by the Dodgers to a non-guaranteed deal that includes a $250,000 bonus for just making the Opening Day roster. He only pitched 8 innings for the team last season, but he did give up 7 earned runs during that span. Trading him would be a fruitless endeavor.
Lastly, 26-year old right-hander Carlos Frias pitched 77.2 innings for the Dodgers last season and finished with a 4.06 ERA. He’s arbitration eligible starting after the 2017 season, so it’d be better for them to hold onto him and let him develop more.
That brings us all the way back to 25-year old left-hander Alex Wood. The Dodgers acquired him on July 30th of last season in a three-team deal between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. With the Dodgers, Wood had a 4.35 ERA in 70.1 innings while striking out 49 batters and walking 23. That seems like an anomaly, though.
In the 86 games he’d pitched for the Braves prior to getting traded, Wood had a 3.10 career ERA and whiffed 337 batters in 368.2 innings. The track record is there for him to be a valuable trade asset if the Dodgers should go down that route.
As the article cited notes, Wood is under team control, due to his arbitration eligibility, through 2019. There’s no telling what the Dodgers could get for him in a one-for-one deal, but it could be possible that they’re able to upgrade their left field or second base situation should the need arise.
As it currently stands, the Dodgers appear as if they’re going to trot 37-year old Chase Utley out at second base while they see what recently acquired Micah Johnson has to offer. The 25-year old Johnson hit .230 in limited action for the Chicago White Sox last season, and he also struck out 30 times in 114 plate appearances. He did hit .315 and stole 28 bases at Triple-A last year, though. He profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter.
If the team wanted to upgrade their left field situation, they could possibly move Wood in a deal for someone like Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees since the team in the Bronx is looking for some more starting pitching. But that’d just create another problem due to the team’s glut in the outfield.
Other possibilities include trading Wood along with another player, say someone like Andre Ethier, for bullpen help. With the Yankees recently acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds, the Dodgers might be able to pry someone like Andrew Miller away from New York if they throw in another piece or two.
Right now, this is all conjecture. The Dodgers are just bursting out the seams with starting pitching, and it helps to know that the option to trade one of them is out there. Wood seems like the best case to be dealt, but the team might also just wait around to see what they have in Ryu and McCarthy first as they come back from injury.
If there’s one thing this front office does, it’s examine all options. Dealing someone like Alex Wood certainly fits one of those options, especially since prized young prospects like left-hander Julio Urias and right-hander Jose De Leon are waiting in the wings for their shot.