Los Angeles Dodgers Trade Deadline Targets: Starting Pitchers

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

As the calendar gets closer to the MLB trade deadline on July 30, the Los Angeles Dodgers will likely be active in all areas of the market.

Their main targets, with only three active starters and a depleted bullpen, will be to acquire pitching, starters or relievers, according to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

Below is a list of some of the starting pitchers the Dodgers could target, considering their potential availability based on the contending status of each team and the player’s contract.

However, the list of targets will likely change as teams decide to go for it or sell as the trade deadline draws closer.

Top-tier starters

These pitchers are the best that will likely be available and can pitch at the top of the rotation for any team. However, the cost to acquire an impact player of their caliber will be high, if they are even available.

Max Scherzer

Scherzer, who turns 37 years old just after the deadline, has a good chance of being the top pitcher moved this July.

The future Hall-of-Famer has pitched to a 2.66 ERA and 3.31 FIP in 98 innings this season. He has a career ERA of 3.19 in 2,455.1 innings.

He will be a free agent after the season and reportedly could request an extension from any team that acquires him in order to waive a no-trade clause. The Washington Nationals ownership has also been unwilling to sell in the past, especially after they won the World Series in 2019 despite an awful start to the season.

Scherzer is one of the true aces in baseball and any team would love to acquire him.

José Berrios

Berrios, 27, isn’t a household name top-of-the-rotation starter but he has been a fantastic for the Minnesota Twins over five seasons now.

The right-hander has a 3.48 ERA and 3.40 FIP in 108.2 innings this season. He has a career 4.09 ERA and 4.00 FIP, partly because of a rough rookie season when he was 22 and some struggles during last year’s pandemic-shortened season.

Berrios has one more year of team control after the season, but the Twins would be smart to capitalize on his value while it’s at its highest. The reported asking price, according to Dan Hayes of the Athletic, was one player in pre-arbitration and two top-100 prospects.

While the Twins likely won’t get that from any team, Berrios won’t come cheap.

Jack Flaherty

Trading for Flaherty is one of the least likely deals on the list thanks to his two years of control after this season, but crazier things have happened.

The 25-year-old right-hander has pitched to a 2.90 ERA and 3.73 FIP this season and he owns a career 3.31 ERA and 3.76 FIP for the St. Louis Cardinals.

As he enters his second season of arbitration next season, Flaherty is due for a pretty big raise from his $3.9 million salary and St. Louis has a lot of holes to fill on their roster.

This season, the Cardinals have fallen well out of a Wild Card spot and are far behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. They are also the second-oldest team in average age, so trading Flaherty at his peak value would bring in a lot of much-needed young talent.

The cost would be astronomical, and the Cardinals trading him remains pretty unlikely, but the Dodgers should at least explore it.

Germán Márquez

Indications have been the Colorado Rockies are saying they will not listen to any trade discussions around Márquez this summer, but Dee Gordon was also not getting traded before he was moved.

Márquez, 26, is arguably the most talented player on this list at this point in their careers. This season he has a 3.36 ERA and 3.26 FIP and a career 4.11 ERA and 3.76 FIP, all while pitching his home games at Coors Field.

He also has three team-controlled years after this season so the Rockies don’t need to rush to move him and he will probably be the most expensive player on the list, if they’d even move him, especially with an in-division trade.

However, teams will explore Marquez’s availability because he is also the type of player who could become one of the best starters in the league when he gets out of Coors Field.

Even if the Rockies don’t intend on moving him, expect to hear his name in a lot of rumors over the next few weeks.

Robbie Ray

The Toronto Blue Jays sit well out of first place in the American League East and handful of games out of a Wild Card spot. If they don’t have a strong week, they would be smart to sell.

If they sell, their top asset would be Robbie Ray, who has pitched like an ace this season on a one-year, $8 million deal.

In 107.1 innings this season, Ray has a 2.93 ERA and 3.80 FIP. His career ERA of 4.11 and 4.09 FIP could be a concern for teams, but Ray has cut his walk rate nearly in half from his career average while maintaining a high strikeout rate, so there is good reason to believe his breakout is legit.

The Blue Jays could decide to keep him and offer him the qualifying offer in the offseason, so just because he is a rental the cost wouldn’t be that low, but he might be the most affordable impact pitcher who could be on the market.

One of the Marlins’ starters

The Miami Marlins are stacked with young starting pitchers and desperately need bats as they aren’t close to a postseason berth.

A trade with the Marlins would look something like a team trading a young MLB position player for one of their pitchers. The Marlins have already made a move like this when they traded pitcher Zac Gallen to the Arizona Diamondbacks for infielder Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Miami has seven starting pitchers who are already very good starters or have the potential to become great starters in Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Elieser Hernandez, Trevor Rogers, Edward Cabrera, Sixto Sanchez and Max Meyer.

With a poor lineup and only one highly regarded position player prospect, the Marlins should at least consider moving one of the arms for a bat or two.

For the Dodgers, they would have to consider parting with players like Gavin Lux, Keibert Ruiz or Michael Busch to get Miami to listen.

Mid-tier starters

These are the players who pitch in the middle of a rotation. They can be inconsistent with flashes of brilliance followed by struggles, or they can just be consistently average (which isn’t a bad thing).

Kyle Gibson

Gibson is kind of a fringe player between the impact and mid-tier group. He was named to his first All-Star team this season thanks to his 2.29 ERA and 3.46 FIP in 102 innings, but he has a career of being more of a mid-tier starter than a top-tier starter.

His career ERA is 4.38, his FIP is only slightly better at 4.29 and he is turning 34 in four months, so despite having another year of team control at $7 million, the Texas Rangers, who sit 17 games out of first, would be wise to sell high and move him for some younger assets.

If he continues pitching like he has this season, Gibson would be a fantastic addition to any rotation. But it may not be best to bet on him continuing to perform like he has, although it could be worth the risk.

Out of all the players listed so far who could be considered an impact arm, Gibson probably has the highest odds of being moved and with so many pitching needy teams — you can expect to hear his name a lot in the rumor mill.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Ryu, a teammate of Ray, could also be someone the Blue Jays listen on if they fall out of contention.

Now 34 years old, Ryu is set to make $20 million in each of the next two seasons, so an acquiring team would need to take on a significant financial commitment.

This season, he has pitched to a 3.56 ERA and 4.07 FIP in 98.2 innings and he owns a career 3.02 ERA and 3.38 FIP. He might not be as effective as he was earlier in his career, but he would still be a solid pitcher for any acquiring team.

The main reason Toronto could look to move him is to shed his salary and add some team-controlled players to their roster, especially if they want to keep Marcus Semien and Ray around, who are both due for significant contracts in the offseason.

Toronto already have $65 million committed to four players next season, with two of their better players set for free agency, and their payroll generally sits around $150 million or less, so they have a lot of work to do.

Michael Pineda

While the Twins might be reluctant to trade Berrios, Pineda is nearly a lock to end up on a new team at the deadline.

The 32-year-old will be a free agent after the season and the Twins need to make room for pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic.

He has a 4.11 ERA and 4.44 FIP this season in 61.1 innings and a career 4.03 ERA and 3.68 FIP, so he is not someone any team will look to rely on in October. Acquiring Pineda would just be about acquiring someone who can give you quality innings down the stretch.

The Dodgers will likely be looking for more impact than Pineda provides, but if they want to acquire two starters, Pineda would be a solid choice as the secondary pitcher.

Kenta Maeda

Maeda is another pitcher the Twins could look to move because he will enter his age-34 season next year, but with another two years of control at $3 million, they can decide to hold him.

This season Maeda has struggled to a 4.66 ERA and 4.34 FIP over 67.2 innings, but he does have a career 3.83 ERA and 3.60 FIP. He also provides versatility to pitch out of the pen in October for whoever acquires him.

Last season, Maeda did pitch like a top-of-the-rotation arm with a 2.70 ERA and 3.00 FIP, however, it was only in 66.2 innings because of the pandemic-shortened season.

Danny Duffy

The Royals are another team with no playoff hopes this season so they should be interested in moving Duffy, a 32-year-old who will be a free agent after the season.

Duffy suffered a flexor strain earlier in the year and just returned in late June without a Minor League rehab stint, so he has been building his strength back up at the MLB level.

In his 61 innings this season, Duffy pitched to a 2.51 ERA and 3.40 FIP but his career 3.95 ERA and 4.17 FIP suggests he is closer to a middle-tier starter.

One of the intrigues of Duffy is he’s a left-hander, so if the Dodgers don’t need him in the rotation in October, he would be great to have in the bullpen.

However, if he keeps pitching like he has this season, he would likely be one of L.A.’s top four starters if he is acquired.

Jon Gray

While the Rockies might be unwilling to move Márquez, Gray, who is a free agent after the season, will draw interest from teams around the league and could be the most likely Colorado player to be traded.

The 29-year-old right-hander has pitched to a 3.77 ERA and 4.00 FIP, making the majority of his starts at Coors Field. He has a career 4.50 ERA and 3.86 ERA but his career has been mostly inconsistent, with multiple seasons with an ERA that begins with a three and multiple seasons with an ERA that begins with five or six.

You will likely hear a lot that getting him out of Coors will make Gray a better pitcher, and while that is possible, his career ERA on the road is actually slightly higher than his career ERA at home.

Gray mainly just needs to find consistency, but even if he doesn’t he is a solid pitcher for the middle to end of a rotation on a contending team.

Kyle Hendricks

Two weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs were looking to buy. Then they lost, and then they lost a lot, more so now they have become sellers.

They have a lot of pitchers they could trade, but they are all back-of-the-rotation starters or young with team control, besides for Hendricks.

Hendricks, 31, has three more years after the season at no more than $16 million in any season, so the Cubs could hold him and likely will, but that won’t stop teams from calling.

This season, he has pitched to a 3.65 ERA and 4.76 FIP in 111 innings. He has had a very strong career with a 3.17 ERA and 3.65 FIP while making 30 or more starts nearly every season. However, at this point in his career, he is more of a number three or four than an ace or two.

Hendricks would make more sense for a team with a young rotation that wants to add a veteran starter, especially because the cost won’t be too cheap due to his contract.

Jameson Taillon

The New York Yankees will likely be hesitant to sell, but they sit nine games out of first and five games out of a wild card spot, so they will have to consider selling.

Taillon, 29, has one more year of arbitration before he becomes a free agent but he hasn’t been successful with the Yankees. In 82.2 innings this season, he has a 4.90 ERA and 4.66 FIP. However, he also has a career 3.85 ERA and 3.72 FIP, and the Yankees aren’t known for getting the most out of their pitchers.

Because of that, he would be an intriguing upside play for the Dodgers, and with the extra year of control, he would provide them with solid depth moving forward at an affordable price.

If the Yankees do decide to sell, Taillon would be one of their top trade chips and will draw a good amount of interest around the league.

Matthew Boyd

Boyd, 30, is currently on the injured list with left arm discomfort and won’t return until August, so acquiring him comes with risk, but the Dodgers have made a similar move in the past when they traded for Rich Hill from the Oakland Athletics.

Boyd pitched to a 3.44 ERA and 3.75 FIP this season in 70.2 innings before going on the injured list. He has shown a lot of potential to become a top-of-the-rotation arm, however, he hasn’t done that consistently and has a career ERA just short of five.

Boyd has another year of control after this season, so even if the move doesn’t work out this season, any acquiring team could still get value out of the deal.

Andrew Heaney

You might remember Heaney spent about 30 minutes on the Dodgers after he was acquired from Miami in the Gordon deal and before he was traded to the L.A. Angels for Howie Kendrick.

Heaney hasn’t panned out like the former top prospect was expected to, but no pitcher on the Angels does. Now 30 years old, he has a career 4.59 ERA and 4.33 FIP, and he has struggled this season, pitching to a 5.56 ERA despite a FIP of 4.19 that is closer to his career normals.

Heaney will also be a free agent after the season, so the Angels might look to move him for a controllable asset.

Dylan Bundy

Another former top prospect who hasn’t panned out, Bundy, 28, holds a career 4.75 ERA and 4.67 FIP while spending most of his career with the Baltimore Orioles in the hitter-friendly Camden Yards.

Last season, Bundy was traded to the Angels and had his best year, pitching like a Cy Young contender with a 3.29 ERA and 2.95 FIP in 65.2 innings during the pandemic-shortened season.

This season, Bundy has performed more like an Angels’ pitcher, posting his worst season with an ERA near seven and FIP close to six.

If a team could get Bundy back to pitching like he did last season, he would be a steal and likely the smartest trade any team could make.

But even if they can’t, Bundy will likely be better moving forward as his HR/FB rate and LOB% start to normalize, so at worst he can be a number four starter type with the upside for more.

Innings eaters

There isn’t a ton to say about these guys besides that they are number four or fives in a rotation that will just eat innings for a team. None of them would be very expensive and wouldn’t be expected to provide much of an impact.

Tyler Anderson, Pirates

Merril Kelly, Diamondbacks

Zach Davies, Cubs

Ross Stripling, Blue Jays

Antonio Senzetela, Rockies

Adam Wainright, Cardinals

Joe Ross, Nationals

J.A. Happ, Twins

Jordan Lyles, Rangers

Jake Arrieta, Cubs

Mike Foltynewicz, Rangers

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