With this year’s trading deadline only a couple of weeks away, the MLB rumor mill continues to heat up. We already took a look at both starting pitching and relief options that the Dodgers could target before the upcoming deadline. Here, we review what position players could be on the Dodgers radar.
Before we list those players, it’s appropriate to look at the Dodgers current situation. If you were to rank the areas where the team might look to upgrade at the trading deadline, it seems like position players would be the lowest priority. There’s really no major weakness in their lineup right now, and the Dodgers offense is already one of the league’s best in many categories.
After a tough start to the year, many thought that Joc Pederson’s struggles might lead the Dodgers to upgrade in the outfield. But he’s improved greatly since coming off the DL, and has been hitting the ball very well recently. Yasiel Puig has boosted his power numbers this year, and offers solid production at the back end of the lineup, while still providing excellent defense. Also, Chris Taylor continues to produce, and although some still believe that he’s destined to return to a platoon role sometime, his numbers sure look good enough to be a full-time player.
There’s also Alex Verdugo, who keeps hitting down at Triple-A, and looks to be as ready as one can be for a big league call-up. If Pederson’s struggles return, or Taylor starts to slump, the Dodgers could always give Verdugo a shot.
The Dodgers also have the pending return of Adrian Gonzalez. There are no guarantees about when to expect him back, or what level of play he’ll produce at, but if A-Gon can resemble his pre-2017 self, he could give the Dodgers yet another offensive weapon. Would they move Bellinger back to left field in that situation? Would Taylor return to platooning with Pederson in center? A lot of different options become available.
Considering all these factors, if the Dodgers were to make a move for a position player, they’d likely go big. Minor upgrades don’t appear to be what the Dodgers are seeking, and they could probably make those types of moves with their current roster and organizational depth. If they have to give up any prized prospects for a deal, you can bet they’ll want a legitimate upgrade in their lineup. We take a look at who those players could possibly be.
J.D Martinez, OF, Detriot Tigers
Contract Situation: Signed thru 2017 (Free Agent after this year)
2017 Stats: .299/.381/.610, .991 OPS, 14 HRs
Why he fits with the club (Pros): After starting this season on the DL, Martinez returned to the Tigers lineup in mid-May and has been an offensive force. His .991 OPS would put him 6th in all of baseball if he had enough PA to qualify, and it would be higher than any Dodgers player except Justin Turner. Martinez also has a lifetime .900 OPS against LHP.
Although the Dodgers offense is doing just fine right now, Martinez would give any club’s lineup a significant boost. If the Dodgers threw him in the middle of the order with Seager, Turner, and Bellinger, it would turn an already good offense into an elite one.
Why he doesn’t fit (Cons): As great as Martinez’s bat is, his glove is a different story. Defensively, he’s below average, and the Dodgers would take a step back in that department. Additionally, would acquiring Martinez mean the Dodgers have to part ways with Yasiel Puig? Perhaps. They could move him over to left field, although he’s played primarily in right over the last few years.
Another big negative in a deal for Martinez is that he’s a rental. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the year, so the Dodgers might only have his services for a couple of months before he leaves.
Trade Proposal (w/Justin Wilson included from Detroit): OF Yasiel Puig, 2B Willie Calhoun, RHP Brock Stewart, LHP Grant Dayton
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins
Contract Situation: Signed thru 2017 (Arbitration eligible in 2018; Free Agent in 2020)
2017 Stats: .316/.374/.566, .940 OPS, 23 HRs
Why he fits with the club (Pros): His numbers this year say it all. Ozuna ranks in the top 10 in the league in Avg, top five in HRs, and leads the league in RBIs. Like Martinez, if the Dodgers were to throw Ozuna’s production into an already good lineup, the offense would probably be considered tops in the game. Moreover, the young 26-year old won’t be a free agent until 2020.
Why he doesn’t fit (Cons): There’s really nothing to dislike about Ozuna. He’s young, he’s solid offensively and defensively, and he wouldn’t be a rental. However, given all that, it means the cost to get him wouldn’t be cheap. The question the Dodgers would have to ask themselves is if the upgrade Ozuna would provide is worth parting with multiple top prospects.
Trade Proposal: RHP Yadier Alverez, OF Alex Verdugo, RHP Mitchell White, 3B/1B Edwin Rios
Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
Contract Situation: Signed thru 2021 (Team Option 2022; Free Agent in 2023)
2017 Stats: .280/.359/.406, .765 OPS, 8 HRs
Why he fits with the club (Pros): If a player is wearing a Marlins jersey this season, they’re likely on the trading block. Like Ozuna, Yelich is locked up for a while and wouldn’t simply be a rental player. He’s slashing .291/.367/.426 for his career, plays great defense, and could play any outfield position.
Why he doesn’t fit (Cons): Yelich is a solid player, but not on the level of his teammate Ozuna, at least offensively. Chris Taylor is actually putting up slightly better numbers this year, so one could wonder how much of an upgrade you’d actually be getting by acquiring Yelich. Additionally, he bats left-handed, and the Dodgers already have a lefty-heavy lineup with even more left-handers on the way (Verdugo, Calhoun.)
Trade Proposal: 2B Willie Calhoun, RHP Trevor Oaks, RHP Dustin May
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Contract Situation: Signed thru 2017 (Team Option 2018; Free Agent in 2019)
2017 Stats: .294/.383/.528 .909 OPS, 17 HRs
Why he fits with the club (Pros): After a sub-par 2016, the former MVP has really turned it on lately and started to look like the player who averaged a .313/.403/.522 slash line and 25 HRs over the previous four years before last season. McCutchen would provide another solid right-handed bat for the Dodgers and he would still be under team control for another year, with a 2018 team option of $14.5 mil.
Why he doesn’t fit (Cons): At 30 years old, McCutchen is by no means washed up, however, one could question whether his best days are behind him. Perhaps last year’s struggles weren’t an anomaly, but a sign of things to come. He looks good so far this year though, and if the Dodgers were to pull the trigger on a deal, that’s the MuCutchen they’d hope to get… not the 2016 version. But there are no guarantees. Also, as a primary center fielder, a trade form McCutchen could mean parting with Joc Pederson, unless they’d be willing to try one of them in left field, a position neither has played very much.
Trade Proposal (w/ Tony Watson included from Pittsburgh): OF Joc Pederson, 2B Willie Calhoun, RHP Jordan Sheffield, C Kyle Farmer
Again, the Dodgers currently have a very capable offense already, and could very well stand pat at the deadline in regards to position players. However, if they do choose to make a move, don’t be surprised if they go after one of these big names.