Going into an off-season with a less-than-fruitful free agent market could signal that the Dodgers may be inclined to improve the ballclub via trade rather than free agency. However, this conjecture did little to vanquish the thought of third baseman Justin Turner and closer Kenley Jansen possibly ending up elsewhere.
Both men did incredible work supporting a team that was left without Kershaw for a few months and both men are free to sign with the highest bidder. Throw in the sluggish CBA proceedings and the conflicting reports that the Dodgers could be under league mandate to begin cutting their debt (or not), the most sought after free agents could be asking for a credit score before signing in L.A.
This has all pushed the Dodgers need to improve by trade to a critical mass that we haven’t seen since Stan Kasten took over as President of the club. While he has refuted reports that the Dodgers are under order to cut their debt, in a year in which the CBA needs to renewed, owners and players are inclined to give each other the benefit of the doubt.
The Dodgers have golden geese No. 1 and No. 2 when it comes to prospects on the cusp of major league stardom. Jose De Leon and Julio Urias both spent a lot of time in triple-A OKC in 2016 and both of them proved far superior than their opponents. In 16 starts, De Leon tallied 7 wins and only 1 loss with a WHIP of 0.938. Urias did even better, going 5-1 in 7 starts with an ERA of 1.40 and a WHIP of 0.867. Both youngsters were called up to the big club in 2016 and after a few rough outings, they found their own way in navigated through major league lineups.
|Jose De Leon||2||0||6.35||4||4||17.0||15|
The Dodgers are not going to trade Julio Urias. The lefty has shown proficiency with four pitches and can hold runners at first just as well as Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers have also made it abundantly clear that if any team wants him in a trade, they had better be getting quite the ransom in return.
Instead, there is Jose De Leon. De Leon had less success in his first MLB exposure than Urias, but there is no denying that he is still a ripe and polished prospect. His age in comparison to Urias is also a reason that the Dodgers may be more willing to part with De Leon (De Leon is 24 and Urias is 20).
Can a trade including Jose De Leon bring the Dodgers the return they need to remain competitive in 2017? The biggest trade rumors surrounding the Dodgers have included names like Sale, Dozier, Kinsler and Verlander. Dating even further back into the 2016 season, Braun, Archer, Longoria and Forsythe are also included.
Twins beat writer Mike Berardino has already stated that talks between the Dodgers and Twins have fallen silent. The White Sox have always held an astronomical price tag on Chris Sale, but even execs in the league claim it is not without merit, per Ken Rosenthal.
One interested GM, while saying Sunday that the White Sox want a return that is “through the roof,” acknowledged that the team’s position is not inappropriate due to Sale’s extraordinary value.
I’ll save the numbers, (yes they’re pretty phenomenal) but I will say that Sale has placed no worse than 6th in AL Cy Young voting for the last 5 seasons.
However, the Dodgers’ prospect well from which to draw from is very deep. First baseman/Outfielder Cody Bellinger has just been bumped up as Dodgers’ #1 prospect by the MLB (with De Leon just behind at #2). Other minor league players that are listed are:
- Alex Verdugo
- Willie Calhoun
- Yusnial Diaz
- Walker Buehler
They are only the beginning of the list of prospects that the Dodgers have with which to offer a formidable package, including De Leon, but without Urias.
Other noteworthy trade pieces the Dodgers have are Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Howie Kendrick, who already found a new home in Philadelphia. The Dodgers and Brewers were reportedly extremely close to a Puig-for-Braun trade during late July, but the deadline clock expired before it could materialize. This trade scenario is expected by many to be revisited during this offseason.
The White Sox have expressed interest in Puig and Ethier has been mulled around in trade discussions for the past few off-seasons. However, Ethier has now earned full no-trade authority as of last spring.
Whether the Dodgers end up re-signing Turner and Jansen, they will still want to upgrade in whatever feasible way they can and Jose De Leon is sure to be the centerpiece of any blockbuster deal the Dodgers initiate this winter.