LeBron should be the only major sports star going to Los Angeles this summer.
The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and the Los Angeles Dodgers need to make a decision. Although the Dodgers struggled in the first month and a half of the season, they have hit their stride, going 24-14 since the start of June, and have tied the Diamondbacks for the division lead in the N.L. West. At the deadline, the Dodgers are certainly going to be buying.
But, who should they target?
Of course, the Dodgers are the Dodgers, and it is no surprise that they are strongly linked to the trade market’s most hyped player: Manny Machado. The Dodgers seek infield help, specifically at second-base or shortstop, and feel that Machado could be the missing piece.
The best move for the Dodgers, however, is to stay away from the Machado sweepstakes. Let’s see why.
The Dodgers’ Waning Farm System
Coming into the 2017 season, the Dodgers’ farm system ranked 6th in the Major Leagues according to MLB Pipeline. With the graduation of Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler to the big leagues—where they have thrived—the Dodgers dropped to 10th in MLB Pipeline’s rankings before this season.
The Dodgers have managed to remain successful for so many years by maintaining a strong farm system, whose talent supplements the fantastic players already on the big league roster. Whereas the strength of most teams’ major league roster is inversely proportional to the talent in their farm system, the Dodgers have impressively managed to have both a strong farm system and MLB roster.
A deal for Machado would certainly cost the Dodgers some key pieces from their minor league system. According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees have made a “strong offer” for Machado, possibly including Clint Frazier. In addition to the Dodgers, the Indians, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Cubs, and Phillies are also interested in the Orioles’ third baseman-turned-shortstop. With this many teams involved, the price will certainly be high for Machado.
The Summer Rental
At the end of the day, Manny Machado is still a rental player. As the entire baseball community knows, his contract expires at the end of this season.
But, what does this mean for the Dodgers?
The Dodgers are uniquely positioned to land Machado in the offseason. Time and time again, the Dodgers are among the top five teams in payroll in the MLB. They are willing to outspend teams like the Diamondbacks, Brewers, and Indians—who are willing to part ways with prospects for a rental Machado.
The Other Options
Dozier has been struggling at the plate this season, tallying a 99 wRC+, but can expect his .253 BABIP to regress to his career .274 BABIP clip, pushing his season wRC+ towards his career mark of 109.
Gennett is having a career year, posting a very solid 137 wRC+ (third highest among qualified second baseman), but can expect some regression as his BABIP is nearly 40 points above its normal total of .333. Unlike Dozier and Cabrera, however, Gennett has an additional year on his contract, meaning he will become a free agent after the 2019 season.
Cabrera is probably the safest bet for the Dodgers, putting up a 122 wRC+ (seventh highest among qualified second baseman), and his BABIP is on par with his career total (.310 this season vs. .308 career).
In chasing these mid-tier players, the Dodgers have more agency. There is only one Machado, who will go to the highest of his numerous bidders, while these three mid-tier players can offer the Dodgers’ more in return. The Dodgers most likely would not have to give away a top prospect for Dozier, Gennett, or Cabrera, and can actively choose which price they find more suitable. What’s more? They can get their cake and eat it too by pursuing Machado in the offseason.