Dave Roberts was locked in the Major League Baseball trade deadline on Tuesday.
“Dude,” the Dodgers manager remarked after the time expired. “A lot has happened.”
Not for his team.
While the San Diego Padres have drastically changed their roster around the addition of Juan Soto, other National League contenders such as the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves have made several notable additions to their roster. of the big league, and every club except the Colorado Rockies executed at least one deal, the Dodgers remained relatively calm.
They outbid Soto, making a strong push with a bid full of prospects but finishing second in the bidding for the 23-year-old superstar outfielder.
They dropped their pursuit of Miami Marlins starter Pablo López with an inflated pitching market that made his cost too high.
They couldn’t find the right price in negotiations for other bigger options, such as Boston Red Sox slugger JD Martinez, a goal they pursued until the 3 p.m. deadline. .
And in the end, the only real change they made was effectively replacing part-time outfielder Jake Lamb, who was traded to the Seattle Mariners, by taking a flyer on former All-Star Joey Gallo. twice who had wrestled for the New York Yankees and was acquired for only one pitching prospect.
“I feel good about how aggressive we were in trying to line up on different things, the things that we ended up doing,” President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said.
But ultimately, he added, “I feel good about the team we have in place and the way they’ve performed… A lot of that stems from a particular dynamic that we have in place, as well what talent we have here and talent coming back and the next two to six weeks.
Friedman, of course, hasn’t been afraid of hit deals in the past. It was at Deadline that he acquired Yu Darvish in 2017, Manny Machado in 2018, and Max Scherzer and Trea Turner last year.
The reckoning this season, however, was different.
The Dodgers started the day with the majors’ winning percentage and team throwing ERA, as well as the second-most runs scored.
They had a 12-game division lead and were already almost guaranteed to make the playoffs.
They also didn’t feel like they had any obvious pressing needs, confident that a stoned pitching staff will be healthy early in the playoffs and the few struggling bats in the roster will warm up. during the sequence.
“It’s the most expensive time of year to acquire players,” Friedman said. “I guess maybe we were quiet outwardly, but there was a lot going on.”
The Dodgers’ biggest addition was Gallo, who was one of baseball’s most prolific left-handed hitters earlier in his career with the Texas Rangers but had struggled since being dealt to the Yankees around that time. Last year.
In 82 games this season, the seven-year veteran — who will be a free agent this offseason — was batting just .159 with 12 homers, 24 RBI, .621 on-base plus slugging percentage and 106 strikeouts in 273 appearances on plaque.
With the Dodgers, Gallo will likely serve in a squad role — he’s been slightly better against right-handed throwing this season — and play defensively in left field, where the team hopes the Gold Glove double can also make an impact. .
“A year ago, he was worth a lot in the industry,” Friedman said. “The true level of talent remains… We think there is real upside potential.”
Lamb, who had been in a similar role for the past few weeks, was dealt to the Mariners in a different move for a player to be named later or for cash considerations.
The Dodgers also traded big league fringe pitcher Mitch White to the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of pitching prospects – helping to free up roster space for the litany of pitchers expected to drop off the roster. injured 60 days before the end of the season.
This group of injuries was another factor in Tuesday’s lack of activity for the Dodgers, whose only other notable move before the deadline was the acquisition of middle reliever Chris Martin last week.
Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Blake Treinen, Tommy Kahnle, Danny Duffy and Victor González are all recovering from their injuries.
And while Friedman acknowledged that the team “isn’t counting on every one of them to come back and be great”, they expect to get enough reinforcements – especially from Buehler, May and Treinen – to internally bolster a pitching staff that has consistently played as one of the best in the sport.
“We’re really excited about the potential for what our pitching team can look like in October,” Friedman said.
Roberts felt the same way about the whole team.
“I like the ball club we have,” he said. “And so for us to fail to do something, I think everyone in this clubhouse understands.”
Still, while the Dodgers certainly aren’t getting worse, plenty of other contenders in the sport could have quickly improved.
The Braves and Mets, already the next two best teams in the NL, have bolstered their rosters in recent days. The Braves got reliever Raisel Iglesias, outfielder Robbie Grossman and starter Jake Odorizzi. The Mets added Phillip Diehl to their bullpen and Darin Ruf, Tyler Naquin and Daniel Vogelbach to their bench.
The top AL teams also made big strides. The Yankees landed pitcher Frankie Montas, outfielder Andrew Benintendi (effectively replacing Gallo in their roster), and relievers Scott Effross and Lou Trivino. The Houston Astros added hitters Christian Vázquez and Trey Mancini.
And then there were the Padres, who, in addition to Soto, also added productive hitters in Josh Bell and Brandon Drury to their roster, as well as hugely talented but recently inconsistent Josh Hader to their bullpen – giving them the kind of alignment and depth of pitch. who could challenge the Dodgers in a playoff series.
“They’ve improved their team the last few days,” admitted Friedman. “We are looking forward to this competition.”
Roberts adopted a similar tone.
When asked if the gap between the Dodgers and the rest of the league’s top teams has narrowed, the manager didn’t disagree.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t think that, so that’s totally fair.”
And yet, he maintained complete faith in the present and future of the Dodgers, convinced that by protecting most of their agricultural system and not forcing trades they deemed too expensive, the Dodgers held on. well positioned for the rest of this season and beyond.
“I think if you look at the system, the assets, the players that we still have, we can do it,” Roberts said. “So that’s kind of how we feel. We are feeling good about our ball club right now for this year and looking to the future.
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