Examining Dodgers potential SP trade targets amid Walker Buehler injury
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler was sent to the 15-day injured list Saturday because of a right forearm strain, which caused him to leave Friday’s start against the San Francisco Giants.
Buehler departed after four innings, surrendering four hits, three earned runs with six strikeouts (compared to just one walk) in the outing. He threw 70 pitches — 43 strikes — in the 7-2 loss. Over his last six starts, Buehler sports a dismal 6.67 ERA with a 4.90 FIP; in his first six starts, Buehler produced to a tune of a 1.96 ERA and a 3.00 FIP.
The 27-year-old stated he felt discomfort after throwing a breaking ball in the third inning. Manager Dave Roberts said that Buehler will not need surgery, but will be shut down for at least 6-to-8 weeks.
Buehler finished fourth in the NL CY Young voting a year ago after posting a 2.47 ERA (3.16 FIP) and striking out 212 batters over 207.2 innings (9.2 K/9). In 62 starts from 2018 to 2020, the right-hander combined to pitch a 3.03 ERA (3.16 FIP) — good enough for a 134 ERA+ — and a 10.3 K/9 across 356.1 frames.
His four-seam baseball has been unusually bad this year; hitters are hitting .368 with a .618 SLG compared to a .195 AVG and .353 SLG off the four-seamer from 2017-21.
Clayton Kershaw’s activation of the IL helps offset Buehler’s IL placement, but it’s still obviously a less-than-ideal loss for the Dodgers’ rotation. Though outside of Buehler and Kershaw, it’s still been one of the best in baseball. In 41 starts without the pair, the Dodgers’ rotation boasts a 2.63 ERA, 3.67 FIP and a 23.5 K% — which would place No. 1, No. 6 and No. 9 in baseball amongst rotations, respectively — over 226 combined innings.
*Stats through 6/11*
This marvelous, yet somewhat unexpected production’s arrived in-part to consistently wealthy outings from mainstay Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson as well as much-needed fill-in starts from Mitch White, Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove, who was called up Saturday for Buehler. Los Angeles will also get back Andrew Heaney, who’s rehabbing with Triple-A Oklahoma City and is set to make his last rehab start on Tuesday, per Roberts.
Regardless, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has not been afraid to wield his wand to land impactful rotation arms — namely Yu Darvish (2018) and Max Scherzer (2021) — at the deadline. And generating potential trade ideas is fun! So in spite of the Dodgers’ rotation success, let’s examine a few SP targets they could nab come Aug. 1, assuming they do.
Potential trade targets:
Luis Castillo, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
For the most part, the 29-year-old has been an effective arm in the Reds’ rotation after joining the rotation in early May after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He got a off to a semi-slow start, but has pitched to a 2.45 ERA (2.56 FIP) with 30 strikeouts to just nine walks over his last five starts. He’ll be under team control thru 2023, so Castillo might have slighly higher price tag than the majority of the market. If moved, he could be a very impactful rotation that could eat innings if he keeps his walks down.
Shane Bieber, RHP, Cleveland Guardians
Now, I don’t believe the Guardians will deal Bieber, but it is a fun thought (depending on who you’re rooting for, of course). The right-hander has been excellent this year — sporting a 2.91 ERA and a 2.63 FIP through 11 starts. He’s only thrown more than 115 innings just once in his career (2019; 214.1) — battling injuries in 2021 and the COVID-shortened season in 2020, when he won the AL CY Young award — so I wonder how his workload is managed the rest of the way. Nevertheless, like Castillo, the 27-year-old is on team-control through 2023 and is likely going to command a big haul. He would unequivocally be the “best case scenario” for the Dodgers.
Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers
What a second stint in Texas for Perez, who’s been one of the best starters in the American League this season. Perez, 31, signed a one-year, $4 million deal in the offseason after pedestrian stints with Minnesota and Boston. Even after getting roughed up Saturday’s, he still sports a 2.18 ERA with a 2.72 FIP in 74.1 innings pitched. Perez is, by far, the Rangers’ most desirable arm and should probably sell-high so they can fetch a quality prospect or two in return on an inexpensive contract.
Jose Quintana, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Quintana’s been the biggest bright spot to a Pirates rotation that has been, well, pretty bad. The southpaw sports a 3.19 ERA with a 3.03 FIP in 53.2 innings, sporting a 46:19 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 33-year-old appeared past his prime with the Los Angeles Angels and the San Francisco Giants a year ago, but has seemingly regained his old formed with limiting the long-ball. He’s only making him $2 million this year, making his a desirable trade chip for a team in-need of an arm.
Zack Greinke, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Greinke joined the Royals in the offseason as one of its only veteran arms and hasn’t been all that impressive. He’s posting career-low strikeout numbers (4.4 K/9) and has pitched to a tune of a 5.05 ERA to a 4.63 FIP in 10 games. Perhaps a second-stint in LA helps squeeze the last bit of juice the 38-year-old has? He’s making $13 million in a contract year, so it’s doable.
Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Close your eyes, Giants fans. But would the Dodgers finally partner with Bumgarner, considered a long-time nemesis by some? He’s spent his entire career with LA’s arch-rival, the San Francisco Giants, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, another NL West foe. Bumgarner struggled in his first couple of seasons dawning the Sedona Red but has been much better in 2022 with former Astros pitching coach Brett Strom. He’s posted a 3.50 ERA, though sports a suboptimal 5.04 FIP and 16.4 strikeout rate, which would be the second-worst total of his career. As a middle-to-back-end arm, would the southpaw be able to provide quality production? Just a thought.
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