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The Los Angeles Dodgers are inevitable. Even during a season in which they ostensibly took a step back so they could incorporate more youth into the lineup, the Dodgers are in first place as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches. They seem more vulnerable now than they have been the last 10 years or so, but they're still very good, and they will no doubt buy at the deadline.

"The clouded playoff situations around the league have made it challenging to get into much substance on the trade front at this point. Most are taking a wait-and-see approach after the All-Star break and see where they're at," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told the Orange Country Register recently. "... From our standpoint, we're going to assess what's available and we're going to pursue what's available, and if things make sense we're going to do them, and if they don't, we're not."

Despite those clouded playoff situations and the not yet active trade market, we soldier on. Here's what you need to know about the Dodgers heading into the 2023 MLB trade deadline.


Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. A right-handed bat would be nice too, but, yeah, pitching is the No. 1 priority. Both starters and relievers. Clayton Kershaw is out with a shoulder injury, Julio Urías is not having one of his typical Cy Young caliber seasons, and youngsters like Michael Grove, Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan and Gavin Stone have consistency and workload concerns. One more high-leverage reliever would be swell as well. Also, the Jake Marisnick and Trayce Thompson injuries create a need for a righty bat to complement an outfield that features three lefty hitters most days (Jason Heyward, James Outman, David Peralta).

Potential targets

The Dodgers have already shown interest in Giolito, who grew up in Southern California and is a rental on a very bad White Sox team. When it comes to improving pitchers through pitch design and optimized pitch usage, the Dodgers are as good as it gets. So it would not be crazy to think they could help Giolito get back to that form he had during 2019-21, a span in which he received Cy Young votes every year. There is no such thing as a perfect fit, but the Dodgers and Giolito sure seem like a solid match.

Grichuk has been one of the game's top lefty mashing outfielders the last few years. It's a power over average (and on-base) offensive skill set, but he crushes lefties, and Grichuk can play all three outfield spots competently. Moving him figures to be a top priority for the last-place Rockies at the deadline given his status as a free agent-to-be. In terms of role and cost (rental platoon bats never fetch big returns at the deadline), Grichuk checks a lot of boxes for the Dodgers.

The overall numbers are good more than great, but Hicks has been outright dominant since changing his position on the rubber and shifting toward the first base side a few weeks ago. The Dodgers love relievers with high velocity sinkers (Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, etc.) and Hicks regularly tops 100 mph with his. He's another rental and the Cardinals have admitted their focus is on 2024. Hicks will definitely be available at the deadline and would give Los Angeles another veteran high-leverage reliever.

You can envision the Cardinals as a one-stop shop for Los Angeles. Bullpen help? There's Hicks. A righty bat? Maybe Tyler O'Neill or switch-hitter Dylan Carlson (who is significantly better against lefties) piques their interest. A starter? Well, Montgomery might be the best starter available at the deadline. Workhorse lefties are always in demand and Montgomery has big market experience after all his years with the Yankees. St. Louis won't have much trouble drumming up interest in Montgomery, who will become a free agent after the season. Expect a bidding war.

For all intents and purposes, Robertson is the perfect modern reliever. He piles up strikeouts, he's more effective against lefties than righties (and he's very good against righties), he's flexible enough to pitch in any role (setup, closer, etc.), and he's battle-tested in the postseason and in big markets. The Phillies added Robertson, now 38, and a free agent-to-be, at the deadline last year and he was a crucial piece of their pennant-winning bullpen. Some team will trade for him at the deadline and be happy they did. Why not the Dodgers?

What about Ohtani?

Of course the Dodgers will make a run at Shohei Ohtani should the Angels actually make him available. They have the young talent to swing a trade as well. Finding common ground on a trade package will not be the biggest obstacle. It will be Angels owner Arte Moreno. Would Moreno trade Ohtani, the game's biggest star, to a team in the same media market? Moreno has been trying to get the Angels out of the Dodgers' shadow since he bought the team in 2003. He may be unwilling to trade Ohtani to the Dodgers even if it is the best and smartest baseball move.

Trade chips

The Dodgers have two premium catching prospects in Diego Cartaya and Dalton Rushing, plus they have All-Star Will Smith at the big league level. Two years ago they used Keibert Ruiz to get Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the deadline. Would they use Cartaya or Rushing to make a similar impact trade at the deadline this year? I mean, why not? They're in it to win it (Kershaw, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman aren't getting any younger) and catcher is a position of depth.

Former first-round pick Michael Busch turns 26 later this year and is repeating Triple-A. Busch seems to have fallen behind a few others on the infield depth chart and could be used as a trade chip at the deadline. I would guess the Dodgers are at least open to discussing their young arms -- there's never any harm in listening -- with Grove, Sheehan, and Stone much more likely to go than Miller. I'm certain the Dodgers will get calls about breakout Single-A outfielder Josue De Paula, if they haven't already. Young talent is no issue here. The Dodgers have to pieces to swing a trade of any magnitude.