As a 32-year-old who could reach free agency after the season, the rebuilding Royals are likely to part with Diekman before the July 31 trade deadline. The club figures to say goodbye to as many non-core veterans as possible in the next two weeks, and has already started the process in the past few days. The Royals have traded two impending free agents – right-hander Homer Bailey (Athletics) and catcher Martin Maldonado (Cubs) – since the weekend. Diekman does have a $5.75MM mutual option (or a $500K buyout) for next year, though the Royals probably wouldn’t exercise their half of it.
Like Bailey and Maldonado, Diekman isn’t someone who figures to bring back a large return in a trade. Although Diekman boasts 96 mph heat, he has only managed a 4.97 ERA in 38 innings this year, thanks in part to an unpalatable walk rate (5.45 BB/9). That’s not to say Diekman hasn’t been serviceable for Kansas City, though. On the contrary, Diekman has struck out just over 13 hitters per nine and posted a career-high swinging-strike rate (16.4). He has also logged a 3.71 FIP, induced grounders at a 46.5 percent clip and generated infield pop-ups at a 20.0 percent rate. Diekman has been useful against lefty hitters (.289 weighted on-base average) and righties (.313 wOBA) in the process.
The Dodgers are in possession of the majors’ best record (63-34), which plainly suggests they’re low on weaknesses. Their bullpen has been vulnerable, though, including when it helped turn what should have been a win into a loss against the Phillies on Tuesday. Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Dylan Floro and Joe Kelly have all taken notable steps backward compared to their 2018 production, while lefties Tony Cingrani (out for the season) and Scott Alexander (out since June 7 with forearm inflammation) either haven’t pitched at all or have seldom been available.
The absences of Cingrani and Alexander have left Julio Urias as the lone southpaw in the Dodgers’ bullpen. Urias, to his credit, has been eminently effective. Still, judging by the Dodgers’ reported interest in Diekman, Felipe Vazquez and Will Smith, they wouldn’t mind adding another late-game lefty to a righty-heavy group.