The Los Angeles Dodgers traded right-hander Ross Stripling to the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday for two players to be named, making their only move on a quiet deadline day for the major league leaders.
Stripling went 3-1 with a 5.61 ERA in seven starts this season for Los Angeles, racking up 27 strikeouts. The 30-year-old veteran has spent his entire pro career with the Dodgers, cracking the major league roster in 2016 and earning an All-Star selection in 2018.
The powerhouse Dodgers otherwise stayed pat atop the standings. While division rival San Diego and other teams frantically added big-league talent in preparation for this unique postseason, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman decided not to change something that's working so well for the seven-time defending NL West champions.
“We feel really good about the team that we have, and also the depth that we have behind it,” Friedman said. “So our mindset was not to do something just to do something. We have guys on our 28-man roster who are deserving of playing time, and (we) didn’t want to block that unless it was someone really impactful.”
Stripling is headed to Toronto to rejoin longtime Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who left for an $80 million free agent deal in the offseason. The Blue Jays dramatically bolstered their pitching staff at the deadline with the additions of Stripling, Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker.
“He’s been very reliable with really good weapons (and) incredible secondary options,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said of Stripling. “He’s throwing harder this year. He’s struggled a little bit against right-handed hitting, so hopefully we can help him there.”
Stripling's departure creates a spot in the Dodgers' rotation for promising rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin, Friedman said. Gonsolin has made four strong starts for Los Angeles this season with an 0.51 ERA, getting 17 strikeouts and allowing just one run in 17 2/3 innings despite going up and down from the Dodgers' alternate training site.
"We made the decision going forward to put Tony in the rotation,” Friedman said. “We have a ton of personal and professional respect for Ross, We believe he's a major league starting pitcher. We didn’t feel comfortable putting him in the bullpen, especially as we look out toward next spring training. We felt it was in everyone’s best interests (to make the trade).”
Although Stripling is a steady, dependable arm, the major league-leading Dodgers have a wealth of rotation candidates even after tremendous upheaval in their starting pitching since last season. The Dodgers have lost Ryu, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda from last season's staff, and new acquisition David Price opted out of the coronavirus-shortened season.
But behind stars Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, the Dodgers can choose among Julio Urías, Alex Wood and promising youngsters Dustin May and Gonsolin to make the starts in their playoff push.
“I don't know exactly how things will play out, but I feel very confident that we're going to have an extremely talented pitching staff come October,” Friedman said. “Exactly how guys are deployed remains to be seen, but similar to Walker in 2018, Dustin and Tony got some experience last year in the postseason. We not only believe in their ability, we also believe in them as competitors.”
Wood has made only one start this season because of shoulder inflammation, while Buehler will miss one upcoming start on the injured list with a blister on his pitching hand.
Los Angeles is 26-10 heading into a homestand against division rivals Arizona and Colorado starting Tuesday. While the Dodgers are in strong shape, Friedman admits he watched the Padres’ moves with interest.
“They are a very formidable team,” Friedman said of San Diego. “We knew and expected that (Padres general manager) A.J. (Preller) would be aggressive, and (we) look forward to playing them in September, and who knows, maybe in October as well.”
Friedman knows the name of one of the two prospects coming to the Dodgers from the Blue Jays, but would only say it’s someone who “will fit in really well with our next crop of prospects that are coming.” The Dodgers can pick the second prospect off a bigger list of candidates later in the year.
The Dodgers nearly sent Stripling and outfielder Joc Pederson to the Los Angeles Angels in a trade for infielder Luis Rengifo earlier this year during the original spring training. Angels owner Arte Moreno scrapped that trade when protracted negotiations over the Dodgers' acquisition of Mookie Betts from Boston delayed the deal.