Dodgers want more pitching. Justin Verlander is among trade deadline options
While the Dodgers completed a few trades this week, bolstering their bench depth with Kiké Hernández and Amed Rosario and their pitching staff with Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly, their front office has been pursuing bigger fish in the trade deadline pond, as well.
Their talks with the St. Louis Cardinals about Nolan Arenado have continued, with the team still focused on a potential blockbuster for the superstar third baseman.
The Dodgers were also engaged in advanced talks for Chicago White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation unauthorized to speak publicly. They ultimately decided not to top the Angels’ offer of top prospects Edgar Quero and Ky Bush for Giolito and reliever Reynaldo López in a trade that was completed Wednesday night.
Read more: Dodgers acquire Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn from White Sox, fortifying pitching staff
Despite that, adding a true impact starter — one who could join Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin in a potential playoff rotation — remains a top priority for the club, which entered Friday ranked 21st in the majors in rotation ERA.
Just days out from Tuesday’s deadline, here is a list of potential targets for the Dodgers, and where their chances for each one stands.
Top prize: Justin Verlander
Of all the remaining starting pitchers who could possibly be moved before the deadline, no one checks more boxes than Verlander, the three-time Cy Young Award winner in his first season with the New York Mets.
The Dodgers have explored Verlander as a trade option, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation. The fourth-place Mets have also emerged as likely sellers, after dealing top reliever David Robertson to the Miami Marlins on Thursday.
The Dodgers tried to sign Verlander this past offseason, making a two-year, $80 million offer. Verlander ultimately signed for two years and $86.6 million with the Mets instead. The contract also includes a vesting option for a third season.
The Dodgers might have a chance to acquire him now — though it would likely require a hefty package rich on young talent, particularly with other contenders such as the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers reportedly also showing interest in Verlander.
Verlander began the season on the injured list with an arm strain and owned a 4.50 ERA over his first nine starts. But he’s returned to form recently, posting a 1.46 ERA in his last six outings. Given the 40-year-old’s track record and postseason pedigree as a two-time World Series champion, there may not be a more accomplished pitcher moved at the deadline this year.
And while no deal is imminent at this stage, the Dodgers are interested.
Read more: Nolan Arenado to the Dodgers? Cardinals, Dodgers have had trade talks
Beyond Verlander, there are a number of B-tier options the Dodgers have shown interest in leading up to the deadline.
A pair of St. Louis starters, left-hander Jordan Montgomery and right-hander Jack Flaherty, have been involved in the team’s discussions with the Cardinals. If a deal can’t be reached for Arenado and either pitcher, it’s possible the Dodgers could attempt to acquire one of them individually. Both are slated for free agency this offseason.
Mitch Keller of the Pittsburgh Pirates is another pitcher the Dodgers like. The 27-year-old right-hander was a first-time All-Star this season, and also has two seasons of club control left after this one. However, the asking price for Keller would not be cheap. And while the Pirates reportedly have been willing to listen to offers, it’s unclear whether they’d actually accept a deal for him before Tuesday’s deadline.
The Dodgers have also targeted Detroit Tigers left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, according to a person with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly. The 30-year-old veteran is having a career season with a 6-5 record and 2.95 ERA. While Rodriguez has three more years and $49 million left on his contract after this season, he could also opt out of the deal this winter to become a free agent.
Read more: Will Dodgers rotation woes force them to be more aggressive at trade deadline?
Like Verlander, Max Scherzer is another three-time Cy Young winner that the Mets could look to move. However, the likelihood of the Dodgers re-acquiring the right-hander, who was their prized deadline addition in 2021, isn’t as strong.
Scherzer’s first stint with the Dodgers came to an awkward ending, when he was unable to pitch in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series because of arm fatigue. He has a 4.20 ERA this season, his highest since 2011. And, like Verlander, the 39-year-old Scherzer is due another $43.3 million next season.
On the other end of the age spectrum, the Dodgers did check in on 26-year-old Kansas City Royals right-hander Brady Singer, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. But no traction toward a deal has materialized.
Two veteran Chicago-based pitchers, Dylan Cease of the White Sox and Marcus Stroman of the Cubs, have headlined media reports as potential deadline options for contending clubs. Both would demand a high price, however, and it’s possible their clubs hold on to them through the deadline.
Read more: Dodgers can’t overcome Yency Almonte’s three-run meltdown in loss to Reds
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.