Image credit: Gavin Lux (Photo by John Williamson)
The Dodgers approach this year’s trade deadline as they have most of this decade—as one of the best teams in baseball. They own the majors’ best record, lead the National League in both runs scored and ERA and have the third-highest OPS in baseball. They are a juggernaut, and the odds-on favorite to reach the World Series for a third straight year.
To finally get over the hump and win the World Series, however, the Dodgers need bullpen help. They rank 19th in the majors in save percentage, and bridging the gap from their starters to closer Kenley Jansen at the end of games has become a nightly adventure. After lacking the relievers to get through the postseason last year, the Dodgers will not be discounting their importance and are in position to pursue them aggressively in the coming weeks.
With a deep farm system that has desirable players from Triple-A all the way to the Dominican Summer League, the Dodgers have the assets to acquire whatever players they need, and they should be one of the deadline’s most aggressive buyers.
1. Gavin Lux, SS
Lux continues to get stronger and make all the right adjustments at the plate. He tore through the Double-A Texas League to earn a promotion to Triple-A and a Futures Game selection, and he has solidified himself as a potential All-Star middle infielder on the strength of his bat.
2. Dustin May, RHP
May has added velocity to each of his pitches this season, topped by a sinker now averaging 95 mph and touching 98-99 mph, as well as a 90-92 mph cutter that has become a devastating secondary pitch. He dominated Double-A in the first half and was rewarded with a Futures Game selection and a promotion to Triple-A.
3. Keibert Ruiz, C
Ruiz’s offensive numbers are down in a repeat year at Tulsa, but he still has more walks than strikeouts as a 20-year-old in Double-A and has made strides defensively with his framing, pitch-calling and game-planning behind the plate.
4. Will Smith, C
Smith demolished Triple-A pitching to receive his first big league callup in late May. Smith’s athleticism and growing power give him a chance at a future everyday role, although the length of his swing gives evaluators pause.
5. Tony Gonsolin, RHP
Gonsolin missed six weeks with an oblique strain but dominated when he was healthy, posting a 2.77 ERA in Triple-A to earn his first major league start in late June. With four power pitches and a noted competitive fire, he’ll get every chance to remain a starter.
6. Kody Hoese, 3B
The 25th overall pick in the 2019 draft led the country in home runs for most of the season at Tulane and has a potent mix of power and patience.
7. Josiah Gray, RHP
Acquired from the Reds in the Yasiel Puig trade, Gray earned a quick promotion to high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and has impressed with a mid-90s fastball, an above-average slider, a changeup that flashes average and superb athleticism.
8. Diego Cartaya, C
The Dodgers’ top international signing a year ago, Cartaya proved too advanced for the Dominican Summer League and moved stateside to the Rookie-level Arizona League after just 13 games, showing advanced maturity and ability both offensively and defensively.
9. Dennis Santana, RHP
Control remains an issue for the long-limbed Santana, but he there is little doubt his power sinker and slider will play in the majors in one role or another, and soon.
10. Jeter Downs, SS
Downs’ season numbers are weighed down by a slow start, but he’s performed well since May 1 while showing power to both gaps and the ability to play shortstop in at least a part-time capacity.
11. Michael Busch, 2B
12. Mitchell White, RHP
13. DJ Peters, OF
14. Cristian Santana, 3B
15. Matt Beaty, 1B/3B
16. Jordan Sheffield, RHP
17. Edwin Rios, 3B
18. Devin Mann, 2B
19. Miguel Vargas, 3B
20. Jimmy Lewis, RHP
21. Cody Thomas, OF
22. Alex De Jesus, SS
23. Edwin Uceta, RHP
24. Michael Grove, RHP
25. Omar Estevez, 2B/SS
26. Gerardo Carrillo, RHP
27. John Rooney, LHP
28. Connor Wong, C
29. Jacob Amaya, SS
30. Robinson Ortiz, LHP
RHP Josiah Gray is only in his second year of pitching full time, but he is already holding 95 mph into the late innings while flashing two average or better secondaries and the control to remain a starter.
2B Devin Mann has unlocked above-average power with a few swing adjustments is tied for third in the California League in home runs.
OF Niko Hulsizer is getting to his plus-plus raw power in games and received a midseason promotion to high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, where he has continued to mash.
SS Alex De Jesus moved from the DSL to the Rookie-level Arizona League after just 13 games as a 17-year-old and has generated significant buzz for his advanced hitting ability, projectable power and growing athleticism.
LHP Hyun-il Choi made a positive first impression in extended spring training with a low-90s fastball, feel for both a slider and changeup and an advanced ability to manipulate and locate his pitches at just 19 years old.
OF Jeren Kendall is batting .183 with a 38 percent strikeout rate in a repeat year at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and has become a non-prospect for opposing evaluators, even with his impressive center field defense.
RHP Gerardo Carrillo showed poor control of his 93-97 mph sinker and issued seven walks per nine innings at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga before going down with lat and shoulder soreness in late June. His 6.66 ERA was the highest among qualified starters in the California League at the time of his injury.
RHP Zach Willeman hasn’t been able to repeat the flashes of the 96-99 mph fastball for strikes he showed last year, dropping to 93-96 mph this year with below-average control. He has a 5.36 ERA with nearly as many walks (26) as strikeouts (33) at low Class A Great Lakes.
OF Starling Heredia continues to struggle badly with breaking ball recognition and overall plate discipline. The result has been a .204 batting average and 38 percent strikeout rate at high Class A.
RHP Yadier Alvarez (biceps strain) hasn’t pitched since April 11 and is being rehabbed slowly. He avoided surgery but does not have a set timetable to return.
RHP Tony Gonsolin (oblique strain) missed six weeks early in the season but returned at the end of May without any issues.
2B Omar Estevez (hamstring) missed five weeks with a pulled left hamstring but returned to Double-A Tulsa on July 4.
RHP Gerardo Carrillo (lat and shoulder soreness) missed nearly a month before returning on July 11.
OF Jeren Kendall (oblique strain) missed five weeks from mid-April until the end of May.
RHP Yaisel Sierra (shoulder inflammation) had a setback in late June while pitching in rehab games. He is likely to miss all of this season after missing all of last year, too.
RHP Morgan Cooper (shoulder tendinitis) continues to rehab and has no set return date. He has yet to throw a professional pitch in two years since being drafted.
RHP Chris Mathewson (torn UCL) is progressing well in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and is throwing live batting practice. He has a chance to pitch in instructional league.
LHP Caleb Ferguson struggled to follow up last year’s breakout with a 5.48 ERA in 22 appearances through the All-Star break. He has been in the minors since June 27.