Welcome to Rumor Buy or Sell. The trade deadline is less than two weeks away now, so between now and then we'll pick apart the juiciest rumors and determine whether they pass the sniff test, or are just typical trade deadline noise.
With ace Clayton Kershaw back on the shelf for an unknown duration, the Dodgers are interested in making an impact move, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
#Dodgers are "Big Game Hunting,'' says a rival exec. They're looking for impact moves, not incremental upgrades.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 20, 2016
The Dodgers could use a top-of-the-rotation arm in the worst way, and it figures that they'll pursue the market's best available. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Dodgers expand the deal to net another piece, too -- that's a staple of Andrew Friedman's -- but who knows for certain if that'll be the case.
The Dodgers entered Wednesday in an uncomfortable position. Though they have control over the primary wild card spot (by a game over the Marlins, two games over the Mets), they received a double dose of bad news on Tuesday. Not only did Kershaw's back respond poorly to a simulated game, but Hyun-jin Ryu was placed on the disabled list with elbow discomfort, just a start after returning from shoulder surgery. Add in the slew of other pitcher-related injuries the Dodgers are and have dealt with, and their depth continues to be tested.
For those reasons, it's hard to take the Dodgers' playoff odds seriously. SportsLine, for instance, has the Dodgers down as being 78 percent likely to reach the postseason. FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus are even sweeter on the Dodgers, checking in at 82 and 83 percent, respectively. Perhaps this is a case of being fooled by the lizard brain, but the Dodgers' actual playoff chances feel more tenuous than the projections suggest.
The easiest way to course-correct would be to add an impact-level talent, as opposed to another marginal type who won't move the needle.
Buy or Sell?
Buying. It's never a good sign when the team with the highest payroll is in danger of falling from the postseason bracket, and it's never acceptable when that same team does it without opening its war chest. The Dodgers aren't going to trade Corey Seager, and probably wouldn't want to move Julio Urias. That means the Dodgers figure to build a package around Jose De Leon, Grant Holmes, and the like. Whether that gets a deal done depends on things above our pay grade.
Granted, it's not Friedman's style to make splashy trades. His adherence to the long-term vision was prevalent in Tampa Bay, and has remained in tow in Los Angeles. But this is the toughest call he's ever faced. After all, it's one thing to come up short on a shoestring budget, and another to waste a bloated payroll, especially when you showed an unwillingness to sacrifice for the short-term interests. If Friedman is ever going to act like the classic big-market GM -- that is, pillaging lesser teams for instant gratification -- then this is the time to do it.
Translation: #Dodgers might be motivated to pursue Chris Archer, even though he's struggled. Odorizzi, Smyly-type deals ... not so much.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 20, 2016
As such, consider it fitting that Friedman's need to buy arises at the same time his old charges in Tampa Bay are preparing to sell. Perhaps locking in on Chris Archer is a bad idea -- maybe the Dodgers make a move instead for Sonny Gray or someone not even on our radar -- but such a deal would make sense for various reasons, not the least of which is Friedman's familiarity with Archer from their time together in the Rays organization. There's also the matter that Archer is under contract at sub-market rates through at least the 2019 season, and has a pair of club options dangling there for the taking. Acquiring Archer, then, would help in the long run.
Of course it's not as simple as snapping fingers. The Rays have little incentive to move Archer -- particularly during a down season. But the idea of Archer is more important than the reality here -- or, in other words, if the Dodgers are in the market for a big piece, it's probably going to be one who can help now and later. We're all just more focused on the now.