Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021
Andrew Friedman is amazing at every trading deadline. Reportedly, the Washington Nationals sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, and two other mid-level Minor-League prospects.
While some other members of the media think the Dodgers just won another world championship when Friedman acquired the three-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer and five-tool infielder Turner, I am not going that far on a limb.
However, this trade is huge for the Dodgers. Since Dustin May needed Tommy John surgery in May, I have repeatedly said the Dodgers needed another good starter. Trevor Bauer let the Dodgers down when he reportedly assaulted a Pasadenan woman. He should not pitch again for the Dodgers ever. After this, particularly with Clayton Kershaw’s forearm injury, the team desperately needed at least one good, experienced starter.
Just turned 37, Scherzer is having a fantastic season and started the All-Star Game for the National League. Barring an injury, he gives the Dodger starting rotation a huge improvement and probably allows David Price, who struggled Thursday against the San Francisco Giants, can return to the bullpen. Since the Dodger starting rotation was left-handed dominant, they could use a right-handed starter. Scherzer is a future Hall of Famer.
Originally, on Thursday, the media reported the San Diego Padres were getting Scherzer, and that would have been detrimental to the Dodgers’ chances of being the National League Western Division champions for the ninth consecutive year. The Padres already have an outstanding starting rotation, and earlier in the week, the Padres obtained second baseman Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates to strengthen both their offense and defense. The Dodgers could not allow the Padres to acquire arguably the best starter available during this trade season.
Earlier Thursday, the Dodgers acquired Danny Duffy from the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later. Currently, Duffy is on the IL with flexor strain. Upon his return, the Dodgers probably will ease him into their starting rotation by using him as a reliever. The lefthander has spent his entire 11-year Major-League career with the Royals. When healthy during the 2021 season, Duffy has pitched well with a 2.51 ERA in 61 innings. Duffy should help to bolster the Dodger pitching staff.
Obtaining Trea Turner was an added plus. While with the Dodgers, Turner probably will play second base, decreasing playing time for Gavin Lux, Cody Bellinger, and perhaps Chris Taylor. Both Lux and Bellinger have performed disappointingly during the 2021 season that had been marred by injuries.
While Taylor has performed unbelievably well, earning his first All-Star selection, he might need more rest than he has had to sustain the level of his performance.
Since Mookie Betts has been bothered an irritated hip for most of the 2021 season, he has not been stealing bases. The modern-day baseball does not value stolen bases, but speed can generate offense. At times this season, the Dodgers have struggled to score enough to win. Turner has 21 stolen bases.
Except for Justin Turner, the Dodgers do not have a player with a high batting average. Trea Turner, who is currently on the COVID IL, has a .322 batting average. He has hit 18 home runs.
This season Lux has proven defense is not his strength. At both second base and shortstop, Lux has committed costly errors. His offensive production has been subpar with a .221 batting average with 11 home runs. I would not be surprised if Friedman trades the 23-year-old Lux this upcoming off-season.
For the first time this season, Bellinger has dealt with injuries. While he had a poor offensive production in the abbreviated 2020 season, his defense in center field was magnificent, preventing many runs. During the 2020 NLCS against the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, he had the decisive home run.
Nothing has gone Bellinger’s way during the 2021 season. This past November he underwent shoulder surgery to repair a loose shoulder joint. While his rehabilitation went on schedule, he could not participate in a spring training game until March 15th, about two weeks before Opening Day. In the fifth game of the 2021 season, he suffered a hairline fracture in his calf, and he missed about seven weeks. After a week, Bellinger pulled a hamstring. He has not established an offensive rhythm. Hopefully, Bellinger’s offense will improve in the last two months of the season.
Acquiring Trea Turner gives the Dodgers an insurance policy if Friedman cannot re-sign Corey Seager this upcoming season. Seager returned Friday from missing over two months with a broken hand. Having both Trea Turner and Seager in the same lineup will improve the offense.
No one knows what will happen over the final two months of the regular season. However, Friedman sent a message to both the San Francisco Giants, who acquired Kris Bryant from the Chicago Cubs, and the Padres that the Dodgers take their dominance in the National League Western Division. The Dodgers want to repeat as the world champions, and if they can accomplish this, they will be the first team to do it since the 1998 and 1999 New York Yankees.