POWER AND GORY

Dodgers need deal for an­other Manny at trade dead­line

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - DY­LAN HER­NAN­DEZ

Matt Kemp was pon­der­ing trade dead­line pos­si­bil­i­ties when he saw some­one walk­ing across the Dodgers club­house who could pro­vide him with some in­sight.

“Are we get­ting Manny Machado?” Kemp called out.

An­drew Fried­man, the Dodgers pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions, looked back and play­fully fur­rowed his brow. “Manny who?” Fried­man dead­panned. So it’s that time of the year again, when World Series con­tenders search for mid­sea­son re­in­force­ments who could help them re­al­ize their Oc­to­ber am­bi­tions.

Kemp was around when the Dodgers made two of the most sig­nif­i­cant mid­sum­mer deals in fran­chise history.

Stand­ing in front of his locker Fri­day after­noon, Kemp re­called how the Dodgers ac­quired Manny Ramirez from Bos­ton in 2008 at vir­tu­ally no cost.

“I thought it was a prank or some­thing,” Kemp said.

He also re­counted the block­buster waiver trade four years later, also with the Red Sox, in which the Dodgers added Adrian Gon­za­lez, Josh Beck­ett and Carl Craw­ford.

“That was crazy, man,” Kemp said.

Last year, as Kemp bat­tled through an in­jury­plagued sea­son with At­lanta, the Dodgers pried Yu Darvish from Texas.

There’s only one player known to be on the mar­ket who could have that im­pact, and it’s the player the Dodgers should do ev­ery­thing in their power to ac­quire be­tween now and the July 31 non-waiver trade dead­line.

It’s the same player Kemp asked Fried­man about. It’s Machado.

“The Dodgers have been known for mak­ing some re­ally good trades right be­fore the trade dead­line, so I think we’re all kind of cu­ri­ous to see what’s go­ing to hap­pen,” Kemp said.

Weigh the pros and cons of trad­ing for Machado and the pluses clearly out­weigh the mi­nuses.

It’s true that the team’s most glar­ing short­com­ings are in the bullpen and not the lineup. Ex­cept this isn’t an ei­ther-or propo­si­tion.

The Dodgers are de­ter­mined to re­main un­der the $197-million lux­ury-tax thresh­old, but that shouldn’t be a sig­nif­i­cant ob­sta­cle. They are be­lieved to be around $10 million un­der that fig­ure, mean­ing they can add what­ever re­mains of Machado’s $16mil­lion salary and still in­vest in a link from the start­ing pitch­ers to All-Star closer Ken­ley Jansen.

If more cap­i­tal is re­quired to ad­dress the bullpen prob­lems, it can be cre­ated by send­ing an­other team a well-re­garded prospect in ex­change for it tak­ing on, say, Lo­gan Forsythe and the re­main­der of his $8.5-million salary.

The op­tion is a re­minder that a farm sys­tem can con­trib­ute more than home­grown play­ers to a ros­ter.

The re­luc­tance to empty the farm sys­tem for a three­month ren­tal such as Machado is un­der­stand­able, but the fears are mis­guided. Machado doesn’t have to equal a cupboard bare of prospects. The Dodgers traded three of their top 30 prospects last year for Darvish, but still had plenty of tal­ent in their pipe­line be­cause they had re­stocked their farm sys­tem over years. They can af­ford to do the same this year.

And it’s not as if the Dodgers have an­other Walker Buehler or Corey Sea­ger in the mi­nors. They don’t have a top-10 prospect or even top-20. Ac­cord­ing to mlb.com, their most promis­ing mi­nor league player is Alex Ver­dugo, who is the 27th-ranked prospect.

Though the Dodgers of­fense isn’t a prob­lem now, it could be one in Oc­to­ber. They have 126 home runs, the fifth most in base­ball. They have eight play­ers with 10 or more home runs, but Kemp is the only one with a bat­ting av­er­age higher than .276.

En­rique Her­nan­dez is hit­ting .227, Yas­mani Gran­dal .240, Cody Bellinger .243 and Joc Ped­er­son .250.

The team’s most re­li­able hit­ter in re­cent sea­sons, Justin Turner, has been slowed by in­juries. The team’s most ex­plo­sive hit­ter, Sea­ger, is side­lined for the rest of the sea­son.

Yasiel Puig could miss a month or more with a strained side mus­cle.

Machado’s ca­reer-high .313 av­er­age could pro­vide sta­bil­ity and up­side. He also has 23 homers.

The Dodgers should also be mind­ful that this could be their last Oc­to­ber with Clay­ton Kershaw in their ro­ta­tion. Kershaw has the op­tion of be­com­ing a free agent at the end of the sea­son. This might not seem like a big deal, con­sid­er­ing his post­sea­son fail­ures, as well as how the Dodgers have over­come his ex­tended ab­sences in re­cent sea­sons. But this is a huge deal and what he means to this fran­chise will only in­crease in clar­ity when the team has to turn to some­one else to pitch a post­sea­son opener.

It could be ar­gued the Dodgers aren’t real con­tenders, that they owe their place in the di­vi­sion race to weak com­pe­ti­tion and that this is a sea­son to re­group. Non­sense. They are obligated to go for it. They owe it to the fans who have waited three decades to watch them win a cham­pi­onship. They owe it to the sup­port­ers who can’t watch them on tele­vi­sion be­cause of their dis­as­trous broad­cast deal.

There are no ex­cuses. They have a clear target and they have the re­sources.

Kent Nishimura Los An­ge­les Times

MAX MUNCY, left, and Cody Bellinger cel­e­brate Muncy’s solo home run in the first in­ning. Muncy, who will par­tic­i­pate in the home run derby next week, added a run-scor­ing sin­gle in the sev­enth in­ning, with the go-ahead run scor­ing on a throw­ing er­ror.

Scott Taetsch Getty Im­ages

MANNY MACHADO is hit­ting a ca­reer-best .313 with 23 home runs for Bal­ti­more.

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