The Los Angeles Dodgers promoted top prospect Keibert Ruiz to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday and the move prompted many questions from fans.
The Dodgers already had two catchers in Rocky Gale and Will Smith in Oklahoma City, and are flush at the position within the farm system.
Behind Smith and Ruiz, is 17-year-old Diego Cartaya and Connor Wong. Wong was promoted to Double-A Tulsa to replace Ruiz.
Sources told NBC LA that Ruiz's promotion was meant to showcase the 21-year-old switch-hitter, as his name has come up in trade talks recently. Ruiz impressed scouts in his first game at Oklahoma City, going 2-for-4 with a home run, a career-high four RBI, and two runs scored in his Triple-A debut on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Smith is expected to be called back up to the major leagues ahead of the Dodgers two-game Freeway series with the Anaheim Angels on Tuesday.
UPDATE: Smith was not called up to the Dodgers ahead of the Freeway Series with the Angels, and catcher Rocky Gale was outrighted to OKC, opening a 40-man roster spot. Gale is currently the third catcher in Triple-A, and Smith is still expected to be called back up soon.
Sources believe that the Dodgers are more willing to part with Ruiz in a trade than they are Smith, who the team believes is more major league ready.
After hitting two walk-off home runs in just nine games at the big league level, Smith is expected to be on the Dodgers Opening Day roster in 2020.
However, just because Ruiz has been promoted, and Smith is expected to be called back up to the big leagues, does not guarantee that one of them will be traded by the July 31 MLB trade deadline.
In order for the Dodgers to move Ruiz or Smith, they would have to be getting an All-Star caliber player in return.
There are the flashy names of course, like Felipe Vazquez, Brad Hand, Will Smith, and Kirby Yates. Each one an All-Star closer this season, and someone the Dodgers would be happy to pair with Kenley Jansen at the back end of the bullpen.
Then there's the list of second-tier relievers they've checked in on like Ken Giles, Mychal Givens, Shane Greene, Chris Martin, Jarlin Garcia, Scott Oberg, and Jake Diekman. It's likely the Dodgers would not be willing to trade Ruiz for one of these second-tier relievers, especially for a position that is so volatile.
Complicating matters is the 20 or so teams that are still within a handful of games of a playoff spot. Many teams are still uncertain if they will be buyers or sellers, and it's made the market much more murky than in previous years.
Dodgers President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, has shown a penchant for being aggressive at the trade deadline in the past, but also a track record of holding on to the team's top prospects i.e. Corey Seager, Julio Urias, Walker Buehler, Cody Bellinger, and Alex Verdugo.
This year could be different, as the Dodgers have the best record in baseball and a monster lead in the N.L. West. Their biggest weakness is the bullpen, and a solid setup man, plus a wipe-out lefty could be the difference in the Dodgers hoisting the World Series trophy this October instead of watching their opponents celebrate a championship at Chavez Ravine.
With less than 10 days remaining until the one-and-only trade deadline this year, things are certainly going to get exciting as we head into the weekend.