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Report: Dodgers acquire SP Tyler Glasnow from Rays in four-player deal

It was a matter of when, not if, the Dodgers traded for a starting pitcher, and Glasnow is among the very best — when he’s healthy.

Tyler Glasnow of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches in the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers during Game One of the Wild Card Series at Tropicana Field on October 03, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

With the ink officially dry on Shohei Ohtani’s record-setting, mind-bending $700 million contract, the new offseason priority for the Los Angeles Dodgers became addressing their starting rotation. And it didn’t take long for president Andrew Friedman to get to work: According to a report for Ken Rosenthal, L.A. has acquired hard-throwing righty Tyler Glasnow from the Tampa Bay Rays along with outfielder Manuel Margot in exchange for righty Ryan Pepiot and outfielder Jonny Deluca.

The Dodgers’ need for pitching was obvious. Ohtani won’t take the mound again until 2025 after undergoing elbow surgery. Clayton Kershaw remains a free agent and just underwent a shoulder operation at age 36. Julio Urias’ career is up in the air after another disturbing assault allegation. Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May both went down with arm injuries this summer and are set to miss at least some if not all of 2024. Walker Buehler hasn’t pitched since early 2022 while rehabbing from Tommy John. The young duo of Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan have tons of promise, but neither of them have thrown more than 140 innings in a single season. L.A. was set to enter next season with a rotation of Buehler, Pepiot, Miller, Sheehan and journeyman Ryan Yarbrough — long on potential, but short on proven, impact arms.

The 30-year-old Glasnow certainly has the impact half of that equation covered. Since coming to the Rays via trade back in 2018, he’s posted a 3.20 ERA and a 12.5 K/9, with a high-90s fastball supplemented by two wipeout breaking balls to keep hitters flailing. There are few pitchers in the league with a higher ceiling.

The question, however, is whether Glasnow can stay healthy long enough to actually reach it. The righty has made just 71 starts in five and a half seasons with Tampa Bay, with a forearm strain wiping out most of 2019 and Tommy John surgery costing him much of 2021 and 2022. This past season was more of the same: An oblique strain suffered during spring training kept him out until late May, but he was largely great upon his return, posting a 3.53 ERA with 162 strikeouts in 120 innings of work — the most innings he’s thrown in a single season in his career.

Glasnow adds another question mark (and another workload for Dave Roberts to manage) to a rotation already full of them. And while it’s a bonus that this deal comes contingent on Glasnow signing long-term with L.A., there’s risk in handing the bag to someone at his age and with his injury history. Still, his potential is obvious for a team hellbent on erasing last year’s disappointing NLDS sweep, and given Friedman and Co.’s historic reluctance to shell out big bucks to pitchers in free agency — the only one they’ve ever given more than $50 million to is Trevor Bauer — swinging a trade was always the more likely course of action. We don’t know how interested the team was in other potential candidates like Chicago’s Dylan Cease or Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes, but Glasnow likely came cheaper than either of them while certainly matching them for upside.

Margot would seem to make sense for an outfield lacking in righty options, but again, the fit is a bit murky. He’s never hit lefties particularly well, making him a curious platoon partner for Outman and Heyward.

For the Rays, meanwhile, the cycle of developing talent, flipping it as it becomes prohibitively expensive and then starting all over again continues apace. Glasnow and Margot are both entering their final years before free agency, and Tampa Bay was very unlikely to resign either of them. So they’ve gone and found younger, cheaper replacements: Long one of L.A.’s better pitching prospects, Pepiot has shined in short stints in the Majors in each of the last two years, posting a sparkling 2.14 ERA over 42 innings in eight appearances (three starts) in 2023. If he really does have his command issues ironed out, he has legit mid-rotation stuff, and landing him is good value for a pitcher with just one year of team control remaining and a laundry list of injury issues in his recent past. He should slot in nicely alongide Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale, Taj Bradley and the returning Shane Baz. (Here’s your reminder that Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs are all recovering from elbow surgery, with McClanahan not expected to return until 2025.)

Deluca is ... well, basically a Margot clone: another blazer in center field who makes lots of contact but is unlikely to ever become more than average (if that) at the plate. He has a little bit more juice than Margot — he has a swing geared for pull power, at least — and Tampa Bay has had success in maximizing this sort of player before. This endless roster churn is no doubt frustrating for fans, but Pepiot and Deluca aren’t likely to hinder the Rays’ competitive ambitions in 2024 while offering financial flexibility for a team that always is in need of it. And hey, coming off five straight postseason appearances, they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt.