MLB trade deadline rumors: The Dodgers need bullpen help and the Marlins are a perfect trade partner

The Dodgers and Marlins have been frequent trade partners over the years. You can go all the way back to the Mike Piazza trade in 1998, but, more recently, there's the Hanley Ramirez trade, the Dee Gordon trade, and the massive 13-player, three-team trade with the Braves that sent Alex Wood to Los Angeles.

With the 2018 trade deadline less than one month away, it appears the Dodgers and Marlins are once again poised to be trade partners. MLB.com's Jon Morosi reports the two clubs have discussed several power arms in Miami's bullpen. From Morosi:

The Dodgers are expected to acquire at least one reliever between now and the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31, and sources say they've had preliminary dialogue with the Marlins about their power arms, including Kyle Barraclough, Adam Conley, and Drew Steckenrider

No trade is close, sources say, but the fit is undeniable: Few sellers can compare with the Marlins' volume of effective, controllable relievers.  

The Dodgers don't need a reliever to solidify the bullpen. They need relievers. Plural. Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, and Pedro Baez are all on the disabled list and Ross Stripling has transitioned to the bullpen. Scott Alexander, the club's big ticket offseason bullpen addition, has been inconsistent at best.

At the moment the Dodgers' bullpen has a 3.98 ERA, ranking 15th among the 30 MLB clubs. Right smack in the middle of the pack. The numbers aren't as good when you look at the guys tasked with setting up Kenley Jansen:


IP ERA WHIP Shutdowns Meltdowns WAR

Jansen

39

2.31

0.90

18

3

+0.8

All other LAD relievers

282 1/3

4.21

1.40

69

50

+0.7

Shutdowns and meltdowns are a win probability stat that help measure reliever performance. Shutdowns are relief appearances that improve the team's chances to win by at least six percent. Meltdowns are the opposite. Relief appearances that reduce the team's chances of winning by at least six percent. Dodgers relievers not named Jansen are far closer to a 1/1 SD/MD ratio than any contender should be.

The good news is the lack of a reliable relief crew has not prevented the Dodgers from staying in the postseason race. They come into Monday at 44-39 and 2 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West. They're 1 1/2 games behind the second wild-card spot. And check out the NL standings since May 16:

  1. Dodgers: 28-13
  2. Cubs: 25-17 (3 1/2 GB)
  3. Brewers: 22-17 (5 GB)
  4. Giants: 23-18 (5 GB)
  5. Braves: 22-18 (5 1/2 GB)

The Dodgers have thrived despite a shaky relief crew. Obviously though, this is a problem that must be addressed at some point. A reliable bullpen is not a luxury these days. It's a necessity, especially in the postseason when so many managers have a quick hook with their starters. There is no better example of that than the Dodgers and Dave Roberts last October.

As for the Marlins, they are fairly early in their latest rebuild, and quality relievers should be among the first players traded whenever a team rebuilds. Their performance is volatile and they can lose value quickly. As R.J. Anderson recently noted, the Marlins have the bullpen pieces to dominate the summer trade market. Here are the numbers on Miami's three-headed relief monster:


IP ERA WHIP Shutdowns Meltdowns WAR Control Thru

Barraclough

36 1/3

0.99

0.74

12

5

+1.3

2021

Conley

17 1/3

1.56

0.81

5

2

+0.4

2021

Steckenrider

35 2/3

3.28

1.15

17

4

+0.3

2023

Three very good relievers -- Conley, a former starting pitcher, has seen his velocity increase considerably with the move to the bullpen -- under team control for multiple years. Barraclough, Conley, and Steckenrider are exactly the kind of relievers contending teams want. Impact pitchers who can help them win now and later.

The Marlins are certainly not the only team with quality relievers to peddle at the trade deadline. The Orioles (Brad Brach, Zach Britton), Padres (Brad Hand, Kirby Yates), and Rangers (Jake Diekman, Keone Kela) all figure to get in on the action as well. That said, I still think the demand for quality relievers is greater than the supply, meaning the Marlins are in position to cash in big, either through a trade with the Dodgers or another team(s).

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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