Entering Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers are four games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West standings, making up 5.5 games in 11 days.
Clayton Kershaw threw his first career no-hitter Wednesday as the Dodgers swept the Colorado Rockies, improving to 7-3 in their last 10 games and winners in four of the last five. There are still some minor concerns, such as Hanley Ramirez’s right hand and the health of Carl Crawford’s ankle.
A former concern, Matt Kemp, who has taken over the left field duties following Crawford’s injury, is now hitting .350/.420/.600 with 12 RBIs in the month of June. Kemp had a difficult time adjusting to no longer being the Dodgers’ center fielder, but since settling in, he’s been a threat in the lineup.
While his success may lead to the belief the outfield picture is a bit more clear for manager Don Mattingly, it doesn’t appear to be the case. According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, teams have reported the Dodgers are shopping all outfielders outside of Yasiel Puig:
Several teams report the Dodgers are telling them they’ll listen right now on every one of their outfielders except Yasiel Puig. And that’s a potential storyline to watch, in a market incredibly thin on bats.
However, Stark also reports the teams are cautious of the fact the Dodgers may not be interested in a trade until after the season:
But those clubs believe the Dodgers are really just trying to lay the groundwork to deal Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier over the winter, when they’ll be marketed as excellent alternatives to one of the weakest free-agent outfield groups in years.
While the players have remained the same since the season began, the landscape of the outfield has changed. The lone constant has been Yasiel Puig being entrenched in right field, which comes as no surprise given his talent and Mattingly’s referring to him as the best right fielder in baseball.
But for Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Kemp and Scott Van Slyke, their roles have changed. Crawford and Ethier spent much of the first two months of the season platooning in left field, with Van Slyke getting on occasional start.
That has since changed to Ethier and Van Slyke platooning in center, with Kemp taking over in left field, as previously stated. The change of positions resulted in Crawford expressing his frustration over where he was to fit in upon returning from a sprained ankle.
With the same group of outfielders from June on last season, the Dodgers opted against trading any of the players, which came in handy as the team dealt with multiple injuries. General manager Ned Colletti reiterated this season his opinion of being against trading an outfielder, but he and Mattingly have also mentioned conversations on how to improve are constantly held.
Stark doesn’t name any potential trade partners or targets the Dodgers may be interested in, though Peter Gammons suggested a trade for Tampa Bay Rays utility man Ben Zobrist.
The Dodgers are far from a perfect team, as ESPN’s Buster Olney pointed out, but with them finally appearing to hit their stride, it’s difficult to envision a trade being completed unless it made perfect sense.
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