With MLB eliminating waiver trades during August, the Los Angeles Dodgers and all clubs face a firm July 31 deadline to improve their rosters. Thus far, the Dodgers’ focus appears to lie squarely in the bullpen.
The volatile group has taken blame for the team’s shortcomings over recent seasons, and that’s again held true this year. Joe Kelly, signed to a three-year, $25 million contract during the winter, has been improved of late but yet to find his footing.
As the July 31 trade deadline nears, the Dodgers have been linked to the likes of All-Star closers Shane Greene, Brad Hand, Will Smith and Felipe Vazquez. Of the quarter, Vazquez remains under team control the longest.
That has the Pittsburgh Pirates in position to take a firm stand on demands for their coveted relief pitcher. According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, that would entail the Dodgers potentially parting with two prospects from Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith in order to trade for Vazquez:
How high is #Pirates price on Felipe Vázquez? Sources say Pittsburgh likely would ask #Dodgers for *at least* two of the Keibert Ruiz/Gavin Lux/Dustin May/Will Smith group if talks ever advanced. (And one source said Pirates remain unsure if they sell at all.) @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 10, 2019
It was previously reported Pittsburgh would seek Ruiz in any Vazquez trade. The Dodgers’ top catching prospect was previously included in trade rumors that involved Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto.
May has quickly become a hot commodity, so has Smith thanks to an impressive early showing with the Dodgers, and Lux is putting together a strong 2019 season.
Catcher is a position the Dodgers are flush with talent in throughout their farm system, though it’s unclear if the team would be inclined to trade any of Ruiz, Smith or Diego Cartaya.
There is also the factor of Pirates general manager Neal Huntington recently dismissing any notion the club is looking to trade Vazquez. The Pirates will begin the unofficial second half of the season just 2.5 games back of first place in the National League Central and a berth in the Wild Card Game.
At the time Felipe Rivero, the left-hander signed a four-year, $22 million contract in January 2018. Vazquez’s deal includes $10 million team options for fifth and sixth seasons, meaning it’s plausible he won’t reach free agency until after the 2023 campaign.
Vazquez, who has earned back-to-back All-Star Game selections, is 2-1 with 20 saves, a 2.11 ERA, 2.11 FIP and 1.15 WHIP this season.