It’s not every day that teams with losing records are buyers instead of sellers at the MLB trade deadline. It’s even rarer when a team only a ½ game out of last place is expected to be looking for players instead of looking to move them. But that’s exactly the situation the Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves in as baseball’s trade deadline inches closer.
At 39-43 heading into Tuesday, the Dodgers might not sound like a typical buyer. But when you’re in a division where the first-place team (the Arizona Diamondbacks as a point of reference) are only 41-40, it’s easy to understand why Los Angeles isn’t interested in selling.
So here are three players rumored to be targeted by the Dodgers:
(2B) Chase Utley: Despite a star-studded team, the Philadelphia Phillies haven’t been able to compete in the NL East this year. The club is expected to be a heavy seller and second baseman Chase Utley is at the top of a lot of wish lists. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported recently that Utley is a target of the Dodgers. Los Angeles desperately needs offense – their 302 runs, which rank 29th out of 30 major league teams will attest to that. Utley remains one of the best second basemen in the league and is batting .282 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI. Among NL players at his position, he ranks in the top five in home runs, RBI, and stolen bases, and would provide a spark for L.A. Second base is currently manned primarily by Mark Ellis (.257, four HRs, 21 RBI) and Utley would be a huge improvement to say the least. One thing to note is that Utley will be a free agent in 2014 so if the Dodgers swing a deal for him, they may not want to give up too much in return if they’re not confident they can re-sign him after the season.
(P) Ricky Nolasco: Nolasco could be moved by the time this article is even finished but for now, he’s still a member of the Miami Marlins. The pitcher is being heavily pursued by the Dodgers, Texas Rangers, and Colorado Rockies, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Nolasco is only 4-8 on the season and with an ERA of 3.95, but he’s capable of being a middle-lower rotation pitcher. He has won at least ten games in six of his seven major league seasons and while he’s no ace, Nolasco could fill a role for Los Angeles. But the question surrounding Nolasco is how much of his 2013 salary the Marlins want a potential suitor to pay. He’s still owed a little over $5 million this season and that could be the sticking point in any deal as the team has reportedly been asking for teams to pick up quite a bit of that amount. But the Dodgers have little choice but to seek pitchers as the team’s staff has battled some injuries this season, including a season-ending neck injury to Josh Beckett.
(P) Matt Garza: Speaking of pitchers, Garza is another one that the Dodgers could land without giving up too much in return. Carrie Muskat, a beat writer for the Chicago Cubs and writer for MLB.com, tweeted recently that the Dodgers were among several teams with a scout in attendance at one of his last starts. Heyman also notes that the Dodgers have been linked to him as well. Like Nolasco, he wouldn’t end up at the top of the rotation. But with Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, as the top three starters, Los Angeles would be just fine with putting him at the tail end. Garza’s asking price could become a bit steeper, though, if teams wait too long. The pitcher went at least seven innings in his last three starts in June and gave up only two earned runs.