Christmas came and went quietly for Dodgers fans. Any that were like myself, spent a lot of time looking on Twitter for news on the potential Francisco Lindor & Mike Clevinger trade rumors. Well, no such luck. Those Christmas wishes of the Dodgers tipping the scales in their favor with a blockbuster trade are still just that, wishes. While there is still plenty of time for the Dodgers to make a big trade happen, they are in good shape as they are.
From an offensive standpoint, the Dodgers are currently poised to bring back the same position players that led the National League in home runs, RBIs, runs, slugging percentage, and OPS. Their situational hitting was also exceptional as they grounded into the second fewest double-plays while also leading the NL in sacrifice bunts and flies. Furthermore, the Dodgers’ batters showed tremendous discipline at the plate as they had the third most walks and third fewest strikeouts in the NL.
It’s important to remember that as impressive as the stats are, the Dodgers missed out on a full season of Alex Verdugo production due to injury and a shortened first month due to platoon situations. Corey Seager was also just a shadow of his former self as he struggled to shake off the rust of a full season spent recovering from injuries. Lastly, the Dodgers have been steadfast in objecting to any trade where second baseman Gavin Lux is the cost.
Gavin Lux is the most coveted Dodgers player in trade talks. Don’t you think the Brewers, with their unsettled infield, would want the Kenosha, Wis. product in a potential Hader deal? However, belief so far of many is that the Dodgers wouldn’t trade Lux “in any scenario.”
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 17, 2019
Lux, who was the Minor League Player of the Year, slashed .347/.421/.607 while mashing 26 home runs and 76 RBIs. Given regular playing time, Lux could very well put up some similar numbers at the major league level.
At present, the Dodgers are currently working with a 4-man core starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Kenta Maeda, and Ross Stripling. The loss of Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu to free agency certainly impacts how to fill that fifth starting spot. Julio Urias might finally get his chance to start on a regular basis, but the Dodgers also have Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin looking to spend their first full season in the Majors. With likely innings restrictions for May and Gonsolin, I can foresee the Dodgers starting the season platooning the fifth starting spot between them and Maeda, Stripling, or Urias to keep innings down.
The Dodgers 2020 rotation is listed in the Top 10 by MLB.
Are you surprised?https://t.co/qgqKKXrUFo
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) December 28, 2019
While people may feel bleak about missing out on a “ryu”nion, there’s plenty upside to the Dodgers pitching depth. In fact, ESPN just ranked LA’s rotation Top 10 in MLB for the 2020 season. Ross Stripling didn’t pitch enough innings to qualify for the leader board, but he still posted good numbers. In his 90.2 innings pitched Stripling had a 3.47 ERA, 9.23 K/9, 1.99 BB/9, and very respectable 3.47 FIP. Maeda’s 153.2 innings pitched earned him a 4.04 ERA, 9.90 K/9, 2.89 BB/9, and a 3.95 FIP. Lastly, Urias who threw just 79.2 innings had a 2.49 ERA, 9.60 K/9, 3.05 BB/9, and a 3.43 FIP. They may not be staff aces, but these three along with the rookies do have enough firepower on the mound to follow Kershaw and Buehler.
Its December, sure the Dodgers have missed some opportunities to boost their rotation. Not for lack of trying, their offer to Gerrit Cole was very reasonable. In fact, it was an uncharacteristic kind of offer from the Dodgers front office. So uncharacteristic though, that now everyone expects some other kind of “big splash” move that may or may not come. Either way the fanbase is sure to be split. No acquisitions will leave the fanbase feeling “unheard” and “unvalued”. However, any “big” acquisition at this point will have to come via trade. Such a trade will undoubtedly come at the cost of fan favorites and/or top prospects.
If Corey AND Joc are included in a Lindor trade, I will be devastated. Keep your “can’t get attached to players” comments to yourself. I will, without a doubt, be devastated.
— Lindsay Adams (@LAtweets22) December 23, 2019
Personally, I’d like to see one more quality starting pitcher and that elusive right-handed power bat wouldn’t hurt either. The latter is not a necessity though. The Dodgers offense is going to be the same next season, if not better. Really, an additional starter isn’t a necessity either, but it does give the Dodgers an edge. Previously I’ve stated the Dodgers should give Seager one more year and I stand by that, but if Seager is the only way to add another starter and get Lindor in return, I’m all for it. Add some insurance by re-signing Rich Hill to a short-term contract and the Dodgers could quickly move to the top of the power rankings.
I love everyone on the roster and, just as it was with Ryu, it’d be sad to see them go. Above all else though, I’m a Dodger fan. I want the Dodgers to improve as a team, win a championship, and to do so while remaining sustainably competitive. If they must part ways with “fan favorites” or anyone else really in order to accomplish that, I’m in. Whatever it takes, win now.