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Los Angeles Dodgers Could Be Perfect Landing Spot for San Diego Padres Slugger Chase Headley

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Los Angeles Dodgers Could Be Perfect Landing Spot for San Diego Padres Slugger Chase Headley
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Chase Headley could be on his way out of San Diego before the end of July.

COMMENTARY | It's no secret the left side of the Los Angeles Dodgers' infield has been a wasteland in 2013. When players like Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers are getting significant playing time, well, it'd be foolish to expect anything different.

Hanley Ramirez's return was expected to give it a boost. And it did -- for all of four games. Ramirez landed back on the disabled list after injuring his hamstring on May 3 when trying to go from first base to third base on a single.

Ramirez was 5-for-11 (.455) with a home run and two doubles. Cruz and Sellers combined to go 18-for-110 (.164) with a home run and two doubles for the entire month of April. That is pathetic.

Dee Gordon's return to the majors has been pleasant thus far, going 3-for-7 with a triple, three stolen bases and three RBIs in his first two games. However, the Dodgers don't know whether they'll continue to get that kind of production out of the 25-year-old.

This is where Chase Headley comes into play.

Headley, 29 on May 9, is the San Diego Padres' third baseman who had a breakout season in 2012, as he posted a .286/.376/.498 triple slash with 31 home runs, a National League-leading 115 RBIs, a 7.2 wins above replacement (sixth-best in the majors), a .387 weighted on-base average and a fifth-place finish in National League MVP balloting.

He did all this while playing half his games in Petco Park -- no small feat. Headley is right in the middle of his prime and could be prime for the taking.

The Padres tried to talk contract extension with the slugger, even stating they'd offer him a "franchise record" contract. But Headley isn't interested in talking extension. He'd rather let things play out this season. He's arbitration-eligible for one more season and will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2014 season. If the Padres don't lock him up this winter, he'll be long gone.

Of course, July 31 comes before the winter, and he could be gone before that time.

The Dodgers desperately need a third baseman. They've needed one since Adrian Beltre left following his magical 2004 season.

While the teams play in the same division, they've made deals before. Most recently, the Padres sent Greg Maddux (back) to Los Angeles for non-prospects Michael Watt and Eduardo Perez in 2008.

The two clubs were on the verge of a blockbuster back in 2009, when the Dodgers would have acquired Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell for a number of young players, including James Loney, Russell Martin and James McDonald.

Padres' general manager Josh Byrnes and Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti have made one deal in the past. The two hooked up for a Jon Garland-for-Tony Abreu swap in 2009 when Byrnes was the GM for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

So, there is history here. But what would such a trade look like?

I'd be shocked if the Dodgers were willing to include Yasiel Puig in a trade -- and rightfully so. The Cuban import is the most exciting Dodger prospect in recent years (and possibly ever). And he's really good at hitting the baseball. I'd also be shocked if they were to include 2012 draftee Corey Seager. He couldn't officially be trade until June 30, as that's the day he signed his contract and draftees can't be traded until one year after signing.

But the Dodgers do have some quality prospects they could include in a deal, unlike in recent years.

Joc Pederson, 21, is leading the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts in every significant offensive category. He also leads the league in a number of the same categories (minimum 100 plate appearances): home runs (seven), OPS (.958), runs scored (26), slugging percentage (.593) and total bases (67). That's impressive. When you factor in he just turned 21 on April 21, it's even more impressive.

Zach Lee, the Dodgers' top draft selection in 2011, is off to a fast start in Chattanooga as well. Also 21, he is the questioned ace of the staff. And aside from one poor outing, he's been nothing but fantastic this season. He's been so good some folks have clamored for his recall to Los Angeles in light of the plethora of pitching injuries the Dodgers have sustained in the first month-plus of the season.

These two would be the headliners in a Headley-to-LA deal. Then, the team could also include a couple prospects for depth. Guys like Garrett Gould (21, High-A), Matt Magill (23, Dodgers/Triple-A), Chris Reed (23, Double-A), Darnell Sweeney (21, High-A) and/or Chris Withrow (24, Triple-A) would fit that bill.

If prospects aren't enough, the Dodgers could also provide salary relief for the Padres. In addition to (presumably) paying all of Headley's remaining money, they could easily take a guy like Huston Street or Edinson Volquez off their hands. in any deal.

The Dodgers would have to pay a premium for trading within the division. For a guy like Headley, it'd be worth it.

I'm not saying this deal needs to happen now, but I'd be surprised if the Dodger front office doesn't make a big push for the third baseman, as the free agent options in 2014 (and beyond) are less than attractive.

Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.

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