When you think of “Big Three” in the sports world these days, of course the names LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh come to mind first, but the Dodger have a Big Three of their own in the forms of SS/3B Corey Seager, OF Joc Pederson, and SP Julio Urias. Each were ranked among the top 20 prospects in the game in Baseball America’s mid-season update published on July 7. A quick note on each:
Urias – 17 year-old left-handed prodigy can touch the mid-90s and is already being compared to Fernando Valenzuela. He is already so polished that there’s talk about a big league debut as early as 2015 when he’d be all of 18 years old.
Pederson – Toolsy outfielder is ready now. Not only is he the best defensive center fielder in the organization (big leagues included), but he’s also batting .315/.443/.580 with 23 home runs and 25 stolen bases for Triple-A Albuquerque.
Seager – Brother of Kyle, Corey may very well wind up as the more talented brother. He was just promoted to Double-A Chattanooga after batting .352/.411/.633 for High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He’s probably a third baseman in the big leagues, but he could be ready to take over as early as the second half of next season.
Leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, the Dodgers were thought to be in the market for a starting pitcher as well as bullpen help. With Josh Beckett’s hip injury and Dan Haren’s recent ineffectiveness, shoring up the back-end of an already very good rotation looked to be priority one. Being they are the Dodgers, an organization flush with both cash and high-upside prospects, you couldn’t hear the names David Price, Jon Lester, and Cole Hamels being mentioned without a statement that the Dodgers were rumored to have interest.
The club was reportedly willing to part with one of three plus other parts in a deal, but all three? That was never going to happen and GM Ned Colletti turned out to be a man of his word. All this is why the Dodgers’ big acquisition in July was none other than Darwin Barney. On one hand, it’s surprising that a team with a $240 million payroll wouldn’t make a move for the NOW and go all out to win a World Series, but even with a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Price, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Beckett/Haren, there were no guarantees of course. That the Dodgers took a longer-term approach may make them less likely to win it all this year, but what it does is set the franchise up for extended long-term success.
Plugging these guys into the 25-man roster means that in the future, the Dodgers won’t have to pay $10 million a year for a No. 5 starter and $17 million for a fourth outfielder.
t know what the Dodgers budgs not an infinite amount. If that were the case, the Dodgers could have easily gutted the farm and traded for Price, Hamels, and whomever else they felt like adding.
At 62-47, the Dodgers have the best record in the National League, so they look to be a lock for the playoffs even if the contributions from 40% of the rotation are below average. You have a pair of MVP candidates in Kershaw and Yasiel Puig. Dee Gordon has a .343 OBP, 49 stolen bases, and even his .398 SLG% is higher than that of Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, and others. Zack Greinke partners with Kershaw to form the team’s best 1-2 punch since Koufax/Drysdale, and the mercurial Matt Kemp is starting to get hot. One could argue that this is a team that didn’t NEED to do anything on Thursday, but there are still holes.
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Fortunately, the trading is not done. Any waiver deals made between now and August 31 would still allow acquired players to be on the playoff roster, and I expect the Dodgers to be busy. My top areas of need (in order of priority) would be:
The bullpen – Kenley Jansen has been great, but the Dodgers’ 3.72 bullpen ERA ranks just 21st in the game, largely due to the awful season from Chris Perez and Brian Wilson, both of whom would be pitching in Albuquerque if not for their contract statuses. Brandon League and J.P. Howell have been just fine, but there’s a need for perhaps two more relievers here. Possible targets: Joaquin Benoit, LaTroy Hawkins, and basically any decent reliever not on a contender either making a lot of money or in the last year of his deal.
Starting pitching – Despite missing a month, Clayton Kershaw could conceivably win 20 games, post a 1.60 ERA, and strike out 250 batters. That’s how good he’s been. The issues though are on the back end, where Dan Haren’s “Fastball” has been non-existent and Josh Beckett has a hip injury that will probably need surgery at the end of the year. I don’t expect Ruben Amaro will drop his asking price on Hamels to entice the Dodgers to pull the trigger, but I do think a guy like Jason Hammel, John Danks, or even Mat Latos (if the Reds decide to pare 2015 salary) will be of interest.
Outfield – Just kidding
Catcher – Not sure I see anything happening here, at least until the offseason. The pitchers love A.J. Ellis, but Ellis is batting .197 with just seven XBH (no HR) in 50 games. Butera is even worse with the bat.
Bench – It’s not a bad bench – Drew Butera (okay, some of it is bad), Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke, Justin Turner, Miguel Rojas, and eventually, Barney. Still, an improvement here wouldn’t hurt.
This is a team that can win a World Series as it’s currently constructed, but expect a tweak or two this month.