The 2018 Major League Baseball season has gotten off to a rough start for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.
The Padres sit in last place in the NL West. They have had to deal with a frustrating round of injuries to certain key players. Wil Myers is on the 10-day disabled list for a second time this season. Hunter Renfroe, who entered the season without an everyday spot in the outfield, but offers significant power from the right side, is also on the DL.
Manager Andy Green has had to shuffle his outfield several times this season. Jose Pirela has made starts at left field and at second base. Franchy Cordero has made starts in left and in center. Travis Jankowski was recalled from Triple-A-El Paso to make sporadic appearances in the outfield.
The Dodgers have been in a similar situation this season, but it has been with their infield. In spring training, epic ginger-bearded third baseman Justin Turner suffered a broken wrist. He is expected to be out until some time in May.
The Dodgers’ situation got significantly worse after the news that shortstop Corey Seager requires Tommy John surgery to repair an injured elbow. The announcement was made on April 30. He will miss the remainder of the season.
The Dodgers have options to fill the gap at short the rest of the season. Andy McCullough of the LA Times reported that Chris Taylor would be the starting shortstop, and Kike Hernandez could also make appearances at the position.
McCullough said that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sought consistency with his infield, and that consistency has been disrupted by injuries early in the season. Even after Turner returns, it will be hard to field a consistent infield. A scenario with Taylor and Hernandez playing at short, and which player starts on which day, would be dictated by the opposing starter pitcher.
From 2015-2017, Hernandez hit .276/.369/.540 against left-handed pitchers. Against right-handers, he hit just .193/.251/.287. Over that same span, Taylor hit .280/.330/.451 against lefties, and .258/.326/.443 against right-handed pitchers. McCullough said that the Dodgers view Hernandez as a sure-handed shortstop. However, against right-handed pitching, that “sure-handed” option doesn’t offer much offensively.
Taylor, on the other hand, has seen only limited time at the shortstop position throughout his MLB career. The Seattle Mariners used him as a shortstop and a second baseman in 2014 and 2015. After going to the Dodgers in 2016, he was used primarily as an outfielder. He played 97 of 140 games in the outfield in 2017. He played in the infield some games last season. A majority of those appearances were at second.
Almost immediately after the news about Seager’s injury broke, rumors began to swirl, suggesting that the Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles could become likely trade partners. The main piece in question — Manny Machado.
With Corey Seager out for the season, should the Dodgers go get Manny Machado? pic.twitter.com/Vjr4oSqQFa
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 1, 2018
Machado will be one of the biggest free agents in a loaded class next offseason. The Orioles listened to trade offers for Machado during the offseason, but never found a deal they felt was worth trading their three-time All-Star.
Like the Dodgers and the Padres, the Orioles are off to an extremely slow start. They’ve lost 20 of their first 28 games. Despite this, Orioles vice president Dan Duquette said that the team will wait until at least Memorial Day before they decide to start making trades.
If the Dodgers are still considering trading for Machado, three things stand to discourage them from pulling a trigger on any such deal. For one thing, the Orioles have said want to wait until at least the end of May before they consider making any trades.
A second thing is that Machado will be a free agent after this season. He’s going to command a substantial contract from whichever team signs him.
The Dodgers made some moves in the offseason to get under the luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season. The threshold is set at $197 million. The Dodgers traded Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson to the Atlanta Braves to clear some of their payroll and get under the luxury tax threshold.
The Dodgers already passed up making an attempt to attain Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins during the offseason. They also couldn’t find a way to sign deadline acquisition Yu Darvish to a long-term deal.
If they were to acquire Machado, and wanted him to be more than just a rental, they will need to offer him a contract in an attempt to outbid his other suitors. Machado is believed to command a deal worth as much as $400 million when he becomes a free agent.
That ultimately would mean another big-money deal on their payroll, and they would once again be forced to find ways to stay under the luxury tax threshold for the 2019 season.
Even when taking the luxury tax threshold out of the scenario, a contract to Machado from the Dodgers makes little sense. Machado can play either shortstop or third base. Turner is signed with LA through the 2020 season. Seager won’t be a free agent until 2021. Outside of this season, neither position is an immediate need for the Dodgers.
Another thing, and what could potentially impact the Dodgers’ future the most, is the price they will have to pay just to acquire Machado. If the Orioles do decide to trade him during the season.
MLB Pipeline has ranked the Dodgers as the No. 10 farm system. They have three Top-11 prospects in pitcher Walker Buehler (No. 12), outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 33), and Keibert Ruiz (No. 52). It would take at least any one of these three to acquire Machado. It’s hard to see the Dodgers agreeing to any such trade.
Enter Freddy Galvis. The Padres shortstop is under contract this season, but will be a free agent when the season ends. The Padres acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies last offseason with the intention of him being their everyday shortstop this season.
Galvis is not a long-term solution at short for the Padres. As everyone knows, Fernando Tatis, Jr. is waiting in the wings, and could be with the team as early as the start of next season. The Padres, along with their fans, are patiently waiting for his arrival.
Galvis doesn’t put up anywhere near the offensive numbers put up by Machado. The Orioles shortstop leads the American League with a .361 batting average. Galvis is hitting .243, and has almost as many strikeouts as total bases (33 total bases, 31 strikeouts).
What Galvis does offer is the infield consistency the Dodgers want. Galvis has the durability to play every day. He played in all 162 games for the Phillies last season, and has appeared in all 32 games of the 2018 season for San Diego.
The Dodgers could acquire Galvis without dealing any of their three prospects ranked in the Top 100. They acquire a quality stopgap, and then Seager (as expected) can resume as their starting shortstop next season.
What this does for San Diego is it nets them something in return, as opposed to watching Galvis walk at the end of the season. The Padres haven’t shown any indication of keeping Galvis beyond this season.
General manager A.J. Preller has made a few steals since joining the Padres. He traded James Shields to the White Sox to acquire Tatis. He traded Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer to the Kansas City Royals for Matt Strahm and Esteury Ruiz.
Strahm was the Royals’ top prospect before being traded. Tatis is the top prospect Padres’ farm system. Preller could have his eye on a low-level prospect in the Dodgers’ system.
As the season continues, and if the Dodgers continue to struggle, their need to address the shortstop position could keep growing. They are 12-17, and sit only one-and-a-half games ahead of the Padres in the standings. The Dodgers trail the first place Arizona Diamondbacks by nine games.