After much first-half consternation — and more than their fair share of first-half health problems — the Los Angeles Dodgers are heating up at just the right time. L.A. has won eight of their last 10 to wrest control away from the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants atop the NL West, with an offense that looks like an absolute world-beater right now. Of course, plenty of question marks still remain, with injuries up and down the starting rotation and some weak spots in the lineup.
The team will, of course, be buyers at the 2023 trade deadline, and they’ll be extra motivated to capture another, non-pandemic World Series title. GM Andrew Friedman always seems to have something up his sleeve this time of year, but where might he look over the next week? Let’s break it all down.
Dodgers trade deadline preview
For as incredible as the Dodgers lineup has been, especially of late — they’re third in the league in team OPS this season and second only to the St. Louis Cardinals since the start of July — there are a couple holes that could be addressed. The middle infield in particular stands out, with rookie Miguel Vargas recently sent down to Triple-A and veteran Miguel Rojas struggling mightily at the plate. Jason Heyward has performed admirably, but he and David Peralta are both getting up there in years and don’t exactly inspire a ton of confidence in October.
The real area of concern for Friedman and Co., however, is likely to be in the rotation. The Dodgers rank a mediocre 18th in starter’s ERA this year, and health is a huge reason why: Clayton Kershaw is on the mend from shoulder discomfort, Julio Urias just returned from a hamstring strain, Dustin May is out for the year and Ryan Pepiot has yet to make his 2023 debut due to an oblique injury. Dave Roberts has done an admirable job of piecing things together, and rookies Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan look like keepers, but L.A. would surely like another known quantity or two entering October. (The bullpen, 18th in reliever ERA, could also use a hand, with a dearth of reliable options behind Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol and Caleb Ferguson.)
Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
This feels like among the best fits for Giolito, as the pending free agent will almost certainly get traded with the White Sox looking like definite sellers. The righty has yet to recapture the ace form he flashed a couple of years ago, but he’s enjoyed a nice bounce-back season, with a 3.96 ERA and 9.6 K/9. He’s among the sturdiest arms on the market, and he’s been a consistently good starter for four of the last five years now. Oh, and did we mention the SoCal product grew up rooting for the Dodgers?
Keynan Middleton, Chicago White Sox
Of course, if you’re already on the phone with Chicago, why not try to also include Middleton? The journeyman has been rock-solid in a late-inning role for the White Sox, pitching to a 2.91 ERA and 11.6 K/9, and he could do wonders for this Dodgers team as a seventh-inning option.
Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals
Tommy Edman and Nolan Arenado are likely out of the question here, but DeJong could provide a higher floor at short than Rojas without costing a ton. The 29-year-old is hitting .238/.303/.433 with 13 homers, and while he’s unlikely to reach the 30-homer, All-Star heights of 2019 would add significant pop at the bottom of the order — and he can still really pick it at shortstop.
The Dodgers may not have the highest-profile farm system, but they may well have the deepest — which should come in handy come deadline season. Diego Cartaya might be the best catching prospect in baseball now that Francisco Alvarez has graduated, while Dalton Rushing isn’t too far behind him. Fellow top-100 prospect Michael Busch could be on the move as something of a young Max Muncy, while there’s a veritable army of young pitchers to choose from — including Miller, Sheehan, Pepiot, Gavin Stone, Nick Nastrini and more.