It is safe to say that at 46-56, the listless 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers are not going to make the playoffs. The season was lost before it even begun due to a combination of injuries, inept handling of the roster and a total meltdown with Frank McCourt.
They are 13 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants and 12.5 games out in the wildcard standings and barring a miraculous finish, the Dodgers are dead in the water. With that said, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti’s slogan should be “everything must go, with the exception of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.”
With the future of the Dodgers in limbo, shedding payroll and adding prospects should be their modus operandi. The ideal scenario would be to dump deadweights like Juan Uribe, Rafael Furcal and James Loney for prospects, but that may be a pipe dream due to heavy salaries, injuries and pure ineffectiveness.
Kuroda could help the Dodgers by waiving his no-trade clause
It’s time for the Dodgers to address the impending voids at first and third base, shortstop, leftfield and the last two spots of the rotation. Dee Gordon looks to be the obvious replacement at short and either Trayvon Robinson or Jerry Sands will get the nod in left. However, Sands could be groomed to play first or third, which would be a boon for the Dodgers.
Acquiring young infield talent that isn’t far away from reaching the big leagues should be the priority, but with such a depleted farm system, the Dodgers should look to refill the cupboard anyway possible.
The Dodgers payroll will shrink from $119 million in 2011 to $46 million in 2012 but several players will face arbitration including Kemp, Kershaw and Andre Ethier. Simply put, the Dodgers should keep that young core and sell what they can for prospects.
Of their tradable assets, Hiroki Kuroda, Jamey Carroll and Furcal are the most likely targets, while getting rid of the under performing and oft-injured Juan Uribe (and the $16 million remaining on his contract) would be a luxury.
Carroll has garnered interest from the Brewers and would be a slight upgrade over Yuniesky Betancourt and his whopping .272 OBP. Asking for Class A second baseman, Ryan “Scooter” Gennett would suffice and give the Dodgers an option at second when Uribe’s contract is up.
Kuroda is the Dodgers best trading chip and is garnering interest from the Rangers, Indians, Yankees, Tigers and Red Sox. But who will those teams part with for Kuroda? Whoever trades for Kuroda would also have to pick up at least $6.6 million remaining on his contract (including his signing bonus that will be paid-out in 2012-13) making it a double-whammy of prospects and cash for the righty. It is worth noting that Kuroda has a no-trade clause and is willing to exercise it for teams on the East Coast.
Here is a list of possible trading partners:
Acquiring Jesus Montero from the Yankees would be huge
Yankees: Catching prospect Jesus Montero hasn’t lived up to the hype this year in Triple-A, but would be a huge acquisition for the Dodgers. The Yankees would be remiss to trade him for a rental, however, they are wafer-thin at pitching and could use a quality 3-4 starter. Anything is possible. Heck, the Dodgers traded Carlos Santana for Casey Blake a few years ago and look how that has turned out. Let’s just hope that Russell Martin keeps producing.
Tigers: After Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the Tigers staff is questionable at best and Kuroda could really help them hold on to first place in the American League Central. Third baseman Nick Castellanos is a blue-chip prospect, but far away in Class-A and won’t reach the big leagues for a few years yet. Francisco Martinez also plays third in Double-A and is having a fine season.
Wil Middlebrooks would be a nice fit at third
Red Sox: Witch Clay Buchholz and Dice-K on the shelf (Dice-K is out for the year), the Red Sox need to add a starting pitcher badly if they want to keep their postseason momentum alive. Fortunately, the Red Sox have a deep and prosperous farm system and can afford to trade a few prospects at the deadline. With Adrian Gonzalez manning first and Kevin Youkilis at third, the Sox could trade 1B prospect Lars Anderson and/or 3B prospect Wil Middlebrooks. Injured SS Jed Lowrie is another low-cost option and is a proven player.
Indians: The Tribe need pitching and they need it bad. Unfortunately, they have called up hot prospects Lonnie Chisenhall (3B) and Jason Kipnis (2B) and will be reluctant to include them in a deal. However, they do have a plethora of arms in their farm system and the Dodgers could always use a solid, young pitcher.
Rangers: The Rangers are also loaded with pitchers, but have two good SS prospects in Jurickson Profar and Luis Sardinas. Profar is only 17, but is very athletic and is rated the second-best prospect in the Rangers system. Third basemen Mike Olt is having a good year in Class-A and along with the strong arms in the Rangers organization, could be worth a look.
One might think that some of these prospects might be too coveted by their respective organizations, but if there’s one thing history has taught us, is that teams are willing to make whatever moves they deem necessary to not only make the postseason, but make some noise in it as well. Let’s hope for the Dodgers that one of theses teams takes the Kuroda bait.