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4 Los Angeles Dodgers trade targets to strengthen World Series odds

Matt Johnson
Los Angeles Dodgers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers are approaching the MLB trade deadline atop the National League with one of the best records in baseball. Despite a slew of injuries, Los Angeles seems poised for another MLB postseason run even with the current roster assembled.

However, there is always room to improve. Despite holding the second-best run differential in the majors with no NL team even within the realm of where Los Angeles ranks, its evident there are some needs on the roster. The Dodgers rotation and bullpen are both areas to address and a right-handed bat could be a complementary addition.

While there isn’t a superstar like Max Scherzer or Trea Turner available this summer, that won’t stop Los Angeles from being aggressive. Thanks to one of the deepest farm systems in baseball and an MLB roster with young talent, the front office can afford to pay up for any player made available.

Related: MLB trade rumors – Latest MLB rumors entering July

Let’s examine four potential Los Angeles Dodgers trades that would improve the roster.

Luis Castillo traded to Los Angeles Dodgers

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds have already talked about Luis Castillo, per Jon Morosi of MLB Network. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially since he is the best starting pitcher on the market and it’s becoming increasingly clear the organization wants to strengthen its pitching staff.

Los Angeles could take negotiate in a variety of directions, first likely pushing for quantity over quality. However, that will be the approach numerous contenders pushing for the All-Star hurler take. If the Dodgers want to separate themselves from the pack, one proposal stands out.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers trade: Diego Cartaya
  • Cincinnati Reds trade: Luis Castillo

While the trade value calculator might analyze this as an overpay, it’s a lot more even when considering the circumstances for both teams. Cincinnati wants to dump Castillo’s salary before his final year of arbitration, projected at $17-plus million kicks in. But it also wants to acquire premium talent who could be in the lineup at Great American Ballpark in the near future. Diego Cartaya is exactly who the Reds would want in a deal.

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The Dodgers can afford to pay this price. While Cartaya is their top prospect (FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline), he plays a position that is blocked by future perennial All-Star catcher Will Smith. We’ve also seen the front office prove it can identify and develop talent to replace Cartaya.

If trading the premium catching prospect lands a No. 2 starter who ranks 11th in ERA (2.37), 15th in strikeout rate (26.6%) and has allowed the fifth-lowest barrel rate (3.8%) since May 20, that’s worth it for 1.5 seasons of Castillo.

Daniel Bard strengthens Los Angeles bullpen

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Every MLB contender, no matter where its bullpen ranks in major statistical categories, eyes more relief pitching at the trade deadline. It’s no different in Los Angeles, even with the Dodgers’ bullpen ranked sixth in ERA (3.31), fourth in strikeout rate (26.3%) and first in Skills-Independent ERA (3.08).

While getting Tommy Kahnle, Danny Duffy and Blake Treinen back into the relief corps will certainly help, there’s always room to improve. It figures to be a mid-tier option who is a half-season rental, reducing the acquisition cost for the Dodgers.

  • Colorado Rockies trade: Daniel Bard, $1 million
  • Los Angeles Dodgers trade: James Outman, Hyun-il Choi

In his age-37 season, Daniel Bard is dominating. Opponents are slashing .176/.190/.255 off his sinker and .1143/./118/..258 against his slider this season, pure domination with just a two-pitch mix. Bard overwhelms both right-handed hitters (.120/.262/.220) and lefties (.182/.282/.303) with no signs of slowing down. Colorado has no reservation about trades within the division, so Bard is a realistic target.

Related: MLB mock draft

Los Angeles Dodgers acquire Garrett Gooper

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Miami Marlins
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

While the Los Angeles Dodgers could pursue a marquee bat this summer, pitching is a far greater priority. It means the club has to find an underappreciated target to strengthen its outfield depth and Garrett Cooper checks off a lot of boxes as a right-handed bat.

Cooper isn’t a big name the average fan will recognize, but he should be someone Los Angeles is monitoring closely. The 6-foot-5 sluggers makes loud contact, ranking 75th percentile in average exit velocity (90.3 mpg), 77th percentile in hard-hit rate (45.4%) and 88th percentile in max exit velocity (112.6 mph). All of this from a player with a .299/.367/.460 slash line, 136 wRC+ and a strikeout rate under 25 percent.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers acquire: Garrett Cooper
  • Miami Marlins acquire: Jose Ramos, Eddys Leonard, Jonny DeLuca

Cooper checks off plenty of things the Dodgers will want from a right-handed bat. Another plus for the front office, Cooper is under contract through the 2023 season. Capable of playing first base and right field, this could be a nice unheralded target who could make a surprising impact down the stretch.

Brandon Drury provides Los Angeles Dodgers with versatility

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Garrett Cooper should be a prioritized target for the Dodgers, but there’s a chance the Miami Marlins decide to keep him. If that’s the case, Andrew Friedman could explore a larger trade with the Reds involving Castillo or move for the simpler deal.

  • Cincinnati Reds trade: Brandon Drury
  • Los Angeles Dodgers trade: Nick Nastrini

Drury is appealing for a variety of reasons. First, he would be an incredibly cheap acquisition with only the prorated portion of his $900,000 salary left to pay. Because he’s on a one-year deal, the necessary assets to acquire him would also be diminished.

More importantly, the 29-year-old is a versatile fielder with experience in both the infield and batter. As a right-handed batter, which Los Angeles needs, Drury boasts a .279/.336/.532 slash line with 18 home runs, a 135 wRC+ and an above-average 11.8% Barrel rate this season. In exchange for Nick Nastrini, a solid pitching prospect without a clear future role in Los Angeles, a deal could work for both sides. Of course, there would always be the opportunity to expand the trade to include Castillo.

Stats courtesy FanGraphs and Baseball Savant