As is customary, the Dodgers enter deadline season looking to add to the roster. Los Angeles holds the National League’s second Wild Card spot and sits 2 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has already acknowledged the club is likely to pursue rotation help — and that was before they knew Dustin May would not return this season. Manager Dave Roberts suggested this evening the team could benefit from bringing in a right-handed hitter as well.
“I think a right-handed bat makes sense,” Roberts told reporters (including Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times). The skipper pointed to the uncertain health status of righty-hitting utility player Chris Taylor as reason to explore outside help. Taylor has been on the injured list for two weeks because of a bone bruise in his right knee. Roberts said over the weekend that he’d be out through the All-Star Break, and tonight’s suggestion about potential external reinforcements could indicate the club is concerned about a fairly lengthy absence.
Even independent of the knee issue, there’s a case for the Dodgers scaling back Taylor’s role. He has hit just .217/.293/.397 with a 35.1% strikeout rate in 636 trips to the plate since the start of last season. Taylor has hit seven homers in 62 at-bats against left-handed pitching this year, but he has had a tough time getting on base consistently against pitchers of either handedness.
The Dodgers are also without Trayce Thompson, who entered the year expected to serve as the right-handed part of a center field platoon with James Outman. Los Angeles has Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Will Smith and the middle infield tandem of Miguel Vargas and Miguel Rojas who hit from the right side. Betts, Martinez and Smith are three of the better hitters in the sport, but Vargas and Rojas have struggled offensively. Backup catcher Austin Barnes isn’t much of a threat at the dish. Righty-swinging fourth outfielder Jonny DeLuca doesn’t have much big league experience.
Los Angeles could cast a wide net positionally if they indeed seek out a right-handed bat. Betts has shown himself capable of manning the middle infield or taking an outfield spot, so he could bounce around to accommodate a new acquisition. That’s also true of Taylor whenever he’s able to return from the injured list.
Tommy Pham, Paul DeJong, Mark Canha and Adam Duvall are among the right-handed hitters who could be available at the deadline with their current teams in uncertain competitive situations. The Reds are fighting for an NL Central title but could still make former #2 overall pick Nick Senzel available as a change-of-scenery candidate given their influx of infield talent.
Senzel hasn’t hit righties at all this year but carries a .373/.422/.627 line in 64 plate appearances against southpaws and can bounce between the infield and outfield. Outfielder Lane Thomas is destroying left-handed pitching for the Nationals this season; he’s controllable through 2025 and would be tough to pry away, but a rebuilding Washington club seems unlikely to take him off the table entirely in trade discussions.