Dodgers Trade Deadline Rumors: Focus May Be On Mitch Keller Rather Than Justin Verlander

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The Los Angeles Dodgers addressed their starting rotation last week by acquiring Lance Lynn as part of a trade with the Chicago White Sox, but are said to remain interested in New York Mets ace Justin Verlander and Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star Mitch Keller, among other pitchers.

Keller and Verlander are both under contract beyond this season, which reportedly is the type of starter the Dodgers are looking to add prior to the trade deadline at 3 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

By most accounts, the Dodgers and Houston Astros are the teams most engaged with the Mets on a potential Verlander trade.

However, David Vassegh said during “Dodger Talk” on AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio there are some who believe the Dodgers aren’t fully invested in their pursuit of the veteran:

“Yes, the Dodgers and Astros are in conversations for Justin Verlander. It’s no secret the Dodgers had interest in Verlander this past winter to a certain point. The Dodgers did not want to go as far as the Mets did to basically guarantee him three years. … I don’t believe that’s changed for the Dodgers, and it would have to be a similar situation to what the Rangers and Mets worked out, where the Mets basically are paying Max Scherzer to pitch for the Texas Rangers.

“That’s probably what it would have to come down to for Justin Verlander to come to the Dodgers. … From what I was told today, there is not a lot of sentiment around baseball that the Dodgers are going all-in for Justin Verlander. They would take him at their price.

“One executive told me today that he feels like the Dodgers are 25% in and maybe trying to drive up the market for other teams. I know the Giants traded for former Dodger AJ Pollock, but there’s been some rumblings that Farhan Zaidi and the Giants could be laying in the weeds for Justin Verlander.”

Instead, there’s the possibility of the Dodgers being more inclined to complete a Keller trade with the Pirates, in part due to his rejecting a contract extension offer:

“There’s been quite a bit of buzz in the last 24 hours as far as the information that I’ve gathered that the Dodgers and Pirates are still in conversations for All-Star right-hander Mitch Keller. And I’m not sure if this is public information or not, but I was told today by somebody in Pittsburgh that the Pirates low-balled an extension to Mitch Keller, and he turned it down.

“So the Pirates are basically saying, ‘OK, he’s not going to take the Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr. discount to stay with us.’ And now they’re looking to move him.”

Keller is 9-7 with a 3.97 ERA, 3.82 FIP and 1.21 WHIP in 22 starts this season. The 27-year-old earned an All-Star Game selection this year for the first time in his career.

Keller made his MLB debut with the Pirates during the 2019 season, when he started in 11 games. He made five starts the following year before taking on a full-time role in 2021.

The 27-year-old is not due to become a free agent until after the 2025 season. While Keller would provide the Dodgers with future security for their rotation, completing a trade would also require the most prospect capital when compared to other potential deals.

Dodgers trade options if not Justin Verlander or Mitch Keller

If the Dodgers don’t trade for Keller or Verlander, they could look to acquire Detroit Tigers southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez, or Jack Flaherty from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rodriguez has an opt-out after the 2023 season, while Flaherty is on track to reach free agency this winter.

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