COMMENTARY | It's the time of year when trade rumors are about to start running rampant. It's less than three weeks until the non-waiver trade deadline in Major League Baseball, and the Los Angeles Dodgers -- with their resurgent -- will be buyers.
They've already bought (figuratively and almost literally) Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins. One would think the Dodgers are out of the starting pitcher market, but Stephen Fife's recent placement on the disabled list and Chris Capuano's inconsistently (despite a great start on July 11) could lead them to target yet another starter.
My idea: New York Yankees' right-hander and former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda.
Hear me out, Yankees' fans.
The Yankees, despite being 50-42, five games out of first place and 2 1/2 games behind either the Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays or Oakland Athletics for one of the two wild card spots, should consider selling off their high-priced, high-quality players and focus on rebuilding.
Mark Teixeira has dealt with injuries all season and has under-performed (based on his contract) for a couple years. Alex Rodriguez is a train wreck and will never be the A-Rod he used to be. Ichiro Suzuki is 39 and the team's second-best hitter is Brett Gardner (no disrespect, but highly unexpected).
With so many injuries, the Yankees aren't guaranteed anything. And even if they make the playoffs, they're not long for October. Kuroda is a free agent after the season and could do one of three things:
- Re-sign with the Yanks or sign with another team
- Return to Japan to pitch
Kuroda is no spring chicken. He's 38 years old (and pitching as well as he ever has) and the magic has to run out sometime. If there's any indication he's going to retire, the Yankees would be wise to trade him.
Hell, the Yankees would be wise to at least consider trading Robinson Cano if they don't think they can re-sign him after the season. But it appears they're going to go all-in with Cano, which is less risky for the Yankees than it would be for the Dodgers. But I digress.
It's widely believed Kuroda would only play for a handful of teams. When the Dodgers were looking to trade him in 2011, teams like the Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox were the teams that were not only interested, but places he would have considered playing.
If the Dodgers could land Kuroda -- a move that would be shocking -- their rotation would be tops in the National League and would put them in a great position to go deep in the playoffs.
No team can match a one through five of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kuroda and Nolasco. Not all five starters are required to pitch in the playoffs, but having that kind of depth would bode well for Los Angeles.
The Yankees could use an outfielder. With guys like Suzuki and Vernon Wells getting the lion's share of playing time, something needs to change. Their top outfield prospect is Mason Williams, who is 21 and struggling in the Florida State League. (High-A, .694 on-base plus slugging percentage). Tyler Austin (719 OPS) and Slade Heathcott (.691 OPS) aren't exactly tearing up the Eastern League (Double-A).
Here is where I'd suggest a type of Andre Ethier-for-Kuroda swap, but with Matt Kemp's bum shoulder, the Dodgers are even less inclined to move Ethier. Carl Crawford, fresh off the disabled list, could be a candidate for a deal, too.
But the big prize for the Yankees could be Joc Pederson. I wouldn't deal Pederson straight-up for Kuroda, but perhaps a package of Kuroda and, say, David Robertson for Pederson and left-hander Chris Reed could be a deal that helps both teams. To sweeten the deal, the Dodgers could add one of two flamethrowing relievers in Chris Withrow or Jose Dominguez. Both hold similar value and would provide New York with a replacement of sorts for Robertson. I'd even be OK with the Dodgers throwing in a fourth prospect if that's what it took to get the deal done. Robertson has one more year of arbitration remaining, so the Dodgers would have to give enough to convince the Yankees to move the powerful reliever.
The Yankees get three players who are Major League-ready or extremely close to ML-ready. That's a valuable commodity these days. They'd also be getting a decent low-level prospect they could develop. Yes, they'd be giving up a 28-year-old who's supposed to be the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera, but nabbing three of the Dodgers' Top 15 prospects for a rental in Kuroda and a quality reliever in Robertson would be a nice get for the Yanks.
The Dodgers get stability in the rotation and a much-needed bullpen arm while giving the Yankees salary relief (as silly as that sound) so they can focus on retaining Cano following the season.
Admittedly, this trade won't happen. The New York media would tear general manager Brian Cashman apart if such a move were made. But if the Yankees want to get back to an elite team, a move like this would be the first step. Plus, they'd help the Dodgers in the process (which is obviously their priority).
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.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Hiroki Kuroda
- Major League Baseball