Coming into the season, Los Angeles Dodger fans were looking forward to watching Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke dominate at the top of the rotation. But, in the back of many fans’ minds, there was another piece to be added, another arm to be had. For some, it was Philadelphia Phillies’ ace and Southern California native Cole Hamels. For others, it was former Dodger draftee and then Detroit Tiger David Price. And, it was assumed, the Dodgers would have their choice of either southpaw when the trade deadline approached.
So, July 31 crept nearer and Dodger fans began hearing the rumors swirling: Dodgers favorites to land Cole Hamels, executives and evaluators were convinced Price was headed to LA. Yet, when the dust settled the day before the deadline, the two pitchers ended up in completely different parts of the continent. What happened? What went wrong? And why should Dodger fans still be optimistic?
It has been long rumored that the Phillies would unload Hamels. The 31-year-old lefty has been one of the best pitchers in the majors since he debuted in 2006, ranking eighth in fWAR over the past 10 seasons. And he was in the middle of Philly’s World Series run in 2008, starting the first and last games of the series. But the team has fallen out of contention in recent years, with Roy Halladay’s abrupt retirement and Cliff Lee’s injury woes playing an integral part in the club’s collapse. So it was a foregone conclusion that a rebuilding effort would begin with Hamels’ departure.
The Dodgers were reportedly asked for six non-Corey Seager/Julio Urias prospects in exchange for Hamels, though the price seemed to drop as the deadline approached. Then the Rangers appeared, with a loaded farm system of their own, willing to deal a number of prospects for an ace. As it turned out, the Phillies were high on some of the Rangers young hitters, which led to a deal that included catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Nick Williams. These types of players weren’t ones you’d find in the Dodgers’ farm, which, naturally, gave Texas an edge in negotiations. When all was said and done, Hamels went to Arlington and a lot of young talent went back to Philly.
When the first deal went down, fans shifted their focus to Price, though it was unclear if the Tigers would move him. When GM Dave Dombrowski finally gave the word that Detroit was selling, everyone just assumed the Dodgers would be the counterparts to Detroit’s rebuilding effort. But, at the last minute, the Toronto Blue Jays, fresh off of a trade for Troy Tulowitzki, swooped in and offered their top prospect (among others) for the impending free agent. The Dodgers, who have placed enormous value on developing prospects, declined to beat the offer and Price headed to Canada.
So, what does this all mean for the Dodgers? Is the World Series out of the picture? Does the front office care more about prospects than winning? In a word, no.
While it would have been nice to add another frontline starter to Kershaw and Greinke, it was never a necessity. In the three way trade with the Marlins and Braves, the Dodgers added two mid-rotation starters and a pair of reliable bullpen arms. Sure, another ace would have been nice, but it wasn’t needed.
And while some fans believe the team’s World Series hopes have been dashed, just take a look at the rotations from last year’s championship. Sure, the Giants got a historic showing from Madison Bumgarner, but the rest of their World Series rotation included Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong. The Royals had James Shields at the top of their rotation, along with a young, hard-throwing Yordano Ventura, but the back of the rotation was filled by Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas.
The Dodgers don’t need another ace. They need to stay healthy and play smart baseball. With the depth they’re about to receive, it’ll make getting to the postseason that much easier. Once they’re there, a little talent and a lot of luck goes a long way.
Thanks for reading! What do you think? Should the Dodgers have gone all out for Hamels and Price, or are the Dodgers wise for holding on to their top prospects? Let me know on Twitter @JaredJMassey