Earlier this week, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman referred to sorting through the “difference makers versus floor-raisers” available on the trade market before Tuesday’s deadline.
They seem to be loading up on “floor-raisers.”
The Dodgers acquired right-handers Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly from the Chicago White Sox Friday in exchange for pitching prospects Nick Nastrini and Jordan Leasure and outfielder Trayce Thompson. Earlier this week, they added utilityman Kike’ Hernandez in a trade with the Boston Red Sox and shortstop Amed Rosario in a deal with the Cleveland Guardians.
“I think they’re both,” GM Brandon Gomes said of Lynn and Kelly as floor-raisers or difference-makers. “Joe’s stuff is elite. Lance Lynn has been an elite starter at times. His strikeout-to-walk rates are really strong. So it’s the ability to both raise our floor with the opportunity to also add some real ceiling in there with some guys that have performed at the highest level on the biggest stage.”
Neither Lynn nor Kelly have been elite performers for the White Sox this season.
The 36-year-old Lynn has a 6-9 record and 6.47 ERA, the highest among pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. He also leads the American League in hits allowed (130) and the majors in home runs (28) and earned runs (86) allowed.
who, like Hernandez, was a fan favorite on the 2020 Dodgers team that won the championship to end the COVID-19-shortened season has posted a 4.97 ERA in 29 innings, striking out 41 batters and walking 12. The 35-year-old right-hander has served two stints on the injured list this season because of a groin strain and elbow inflammation.
“The people of Los Angeles know Joe, and I would argue that his stuff is even better than it was when he was with us – the velocity, the curveball, all that stuff,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think for Joe specifically, there’s been some on the IL, off, and I also think that, he’s a guy, like most players, when they’re in a winning environment, they thrive.”
The Dodgers began the week in desperate need of starting pitching and had been among the most aggressive suitors for Lynn, despite his underwhelming numbers. The Dodgers are in first place in the National League West and sit 15 games over .500, but they have thrived despite issues throughout their rotation.
Julio Urias has had an up-and-down year, Clayton Kershaw is on the injured list, Dustin May has been lost for the season, Walker Buehler is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery and Noah Syndergaard struggled mightily before getting sent to the Cleveland Guardians in the Rosario deal, forcing rookie starters Emmet Sheehan, Bobby Miller and Michael Grove to take on more of a workload than the Dodgers initially hoped.
The bullpen was also an issue in the early part of the season, but Dodgers relievers have posted a major-league-best 2.67 ERA this month, with the likes of Caleb Ferguson, Ryan Brasier, Phil Bickford, Yency Almonte and Brusdar Graterol stepping up late in games.
In Lynn, Kelly, Rosario and Hernandez, the Dodgers have acquired four veteran players who are having relatively underwhelming seasons. Rosario and Hernandez will bounce around the middle infield and not spend most of their time at shortstop, the position they’ve played full-time in 2023.
Thompson hit .155 in 36 games for the Dodgers this season, his second in his latest stint in Los Angeles. He hit three of his five home runs this year in his first game of 2023, on April 1 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Thompson has been on the injured list since June with a left oblique strain and had recently started a rehab assignment with the Dodgers’ Arizona Complex League affiliate.
The White Sox, 22 games below .500 and 13 games out of first place despite playing in the weak American League Central, sent starter Lucas Giolito and reliever Reynaldo Lopez to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday and are expected to shed more veterans before Tuesday’s trade deadline. The White Sox had gone into a rebuilding phase hoping to establish themselves as a legitimate contender, but a division title in 2021 was followed by a .500 finish in 2022.
Because of those struggles, the Dodgers decided to take a flier on Lynn, who has an ability to at least log innings in starts. But Lynn’s effectiveness this season has been nowhere close to where it’s been throughout a solid career. Lynn comes to the Dodgers with a 6.47 ERA, which is technically still an upgrade over the 7.16 ERA that Noah Syndergaard who is now with the Guardians had over the first three months of the season.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about him as far as the compete, the preparedness,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He’s a guy that takes the baseball. He goes deep into games and, you know, victim of sort of the circumstance. I just feel that getting in this environment, playing meaningful games will bring out the best in him.”
As for Kelly, he will now enter his second stint with the Dodgers. Kelly does give them another quality option in a bullpen that has been much better as of late. Expect Kelly to be used in the same role, as a high-leverage reliever in the middle innings.
“I also think that he’s a guy that, when they’re in a winning environment, they thrive,” Roberts said. “And so I know Joe’s happy to be back in Los Angeles.”
With four days left before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline, the expectation is the Dodgers will remain aggressive in trade talks. Whether a deal comes to fruition remains to be seen. But Friedman and his associates have made it clear that they won’t be afraid to pull the trigger on a swap if it makes sense in the end.
“I think we feel really good about our team and the moves we’ve made,” Gomes said. “We’re always looking to improve. That won’t stop. We’ll take the coming days to assess what’s out there.”
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