Things are quiet at Chavez Ravine.
With just hours to go before the MLB Trade Deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be patiently playing the waiting game.
The Dodgers are not the only team lingering. The rest of the league appears to be in the same situation as well. Sure, there have been a few trades: the Mets got Marcus Stroman. Oakland got Jake Diekman, and old friend Yasiel Puig is headed to Cleveland for Trevor Bauer. But for the most part, front office executives are waiting for the floodgates to open.
The Dodgers front office, led by President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, has made a few minor moves in recent days: acquiring Tyler White from the Astros, Kristopher Negron from the Mariners, trading Zac Rosscup to the Cardinals, and signing Tyler Thornburg.
Nonetheless, these are not the enormous head-turning moves that the Dodgers fan base is accustomed to. After acquiring Mat Latos and Alex Wood in 2015, Rich Hill and Josh Reddick in 2016, Yu Darvish in 2017, and Manny Machado and Brian Dozier in 2018, Friedman has increasingly upped the ante each year.
With recent history as an indicator, the Dodgers will make a handful moves ahead of Wednesday's 4:00PM EST trade deadline. Not only does L.A. hope to be involved in the action, they plan on being a major player in it.
Here is the latest, according to sources and league executives NBC LA has spoken to in the past 24 hours:
With just a few hours until the one-and-only trade deadline, the biggest name on the market, Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez, still seems unlikely to be traded.
Sources with knowledge of the discussions between the Dodgers and Pirates said that they are still having active discussions, but that a trade as of Tuesday evening was doubtful to get done. "It's not trending in the right direction," said one source close to the talks.
As it's been widely reported, in order to acquire Felipe Vazquez, it would come at a steep price. Pittsburgh is asking for at least two of the Dodgers four Top 100 prospects; Gavin Lux (No. 10), Dustin May (No. 35), Keibert Ruiz (No. 36), or Will Smith, C (No. 57), and a third prospect with a high upside as well.
Friedman is notorious for holding on to his top prospects, and it's paid dividends in All-Stars Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, and should-have-been All-Star Alex Verdugo.
Holding on to these top young talents is a major reason why the Dodgers are 15 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the National League West and are cruising to their seventh straight division title.
Rival league executives told NBC LA, that they believe Lux, May, Ruiz, and Smith, all fall into that category of future All-Stars. Would the front office be willing to trade them to end the 31-year-old World Series drought?
That's the million-dollar question entering Wednesday's deadline.
The Pirates hold all the leverage. They do not have to move Vazquez at all. Vaquez is just 28 years old, affordable, and under team control until 2023. They can trade away other pieces if they so chose, but the offer for Vazquez would have to blow them away.
At the end of June, the Pirates were still well within striking distance of the NL Central. However, a handful of injuries and an awful month of July currently have them in last place in the division, and 10.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Could that mean the Pirates change their mind in the next few hours and trade away their star closer when his value is at its apex?
Sources believe in order for a deal to take place before the deadline, the Pirates would have to lower their asking price, and the Dodgers would have to see a lot of their other options come off the board early in the day.
That brings us to the backup plans. If Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington maintains his steep asking price for Vazquez, expect the Dodgers to pivot to New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz or Detroit Tigers closer Shane Greene.
According to multiple sources, the Dodgers are expected to acquire one of these three aforementioned closers.
Diaz is seen as the immediate Plan B to Vazquez, and would certainly not come at the same price. It's also possible that Diaz could be had for a lesser price than the Mets paid last December when they acquired him from the Mariners for outfielder Jarred Kelenic and RHP Justin Dunn (No. 24 and No. 77) prospects in all of baseball at the time.
Diaz is not having his best season in his first year in New York, with a 1-6 record and a 4.95 ERA in 44 appearances. Part of the reason for the bloated ERA is four bad outings in a little less than a 40-day span that saw him allow a combined 16 runs to the Phillies, Cardinals, and Dodgers. Every closer runs into a bump in the road every now and then, but when Diaz hits a bump, it's a full-on volcano ready to erupt.
Thankfully, his fastball is still averaging above 97 MPH, a weapon of epic proportions during October. Diaz is currently making the league minimum, and is under control until 2023 via arbitration. Needless to say, he's definitely a buy-low candidate, but other organizations know that as well, and the competition for Diaz is fierce with many other contending teams in need of bullpen help alsol. The Red Sox, Rays, Braves, and Padres are all interested in the 25-year-old closer.
Plan C is Tigers closer Shane Greene. An American League All-Star whose 1.18 ERA is not entirely indicative of how he's pitched this season. The 30-year-old right-hander is a free agent in 2021, so the asking price could presumably be lower than it is for Vazquez or Diaz.
However, Tigers General Manager Al Avila, is notorious for asking for the moon and the stars and the cat that jumped over it as well. With Blue Jays closer Ken Giles potentially off the market with shoulder inflammation, Greene's price tag may have gone up in recent days.
Nevertheless, that didn't stop the Dodgers from scouting Greene this week, and sources have said that both teams continue to discuss potential trade possibilities. Like all the good relievers still available, other teams are still involved as well, including the Braves, Nationals, and Red Sox high among them. If the price on Greene drops on Wednesday, expect one of those three teams to pounce.
Finally, multiple sources told NBC LA on Tuesday that if the Dodgers don't land one of the top three relievers mentioned, that they have multiple contingency plans in place depending on how things unwind on Wednesday morning. These plans could be in addition to acquiring one of the three closers mentioned, or in lieu of.
Sources have indicated that the Dodgers have had discussions with the Cincinnati Reds, and are interested in a number of the team's relievers; Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen, and Raisel Iglesias among them.
On Tuesday, the Reds acquired RHP Trevor Bauer from the Indians, so rival executives are not quite sure where the team stands as buyers or sellers, but the Dodgers and Reds have shown an affinity to be able to negotiate with each other in the recent past, and could do so again on Wednesday.
One team that are for sure sellers is the Miami Marlins, who currently own the worst record in the National League. The Dodgers have shown recent interest in a few relievers, most notably; Nick Anderson, Jarlin Garcia, and Austin Brice. However, the Marlins front office have always had a steep asking price for their players in the past (think Cody Bellinger for J.T. Realumuto).
The San Francisco Giants have a plethora of relievers, and rival executives expect some of them to be traded on Wednesday. Expect Madison Bumgarner to stay, but one of their left-handers Will Smith or Tony Watson, to be on the move.
There are a few other preliminary discussions the Dodgers have had recently in the relief pitching market, according to sources. Some we've reported publicly, some we haven't, and then there's always the move that Friedman is hiding up his sleeve that nobody knows about. How many moves will be made by Wednesday's deadline? Will any move be made at all? We'll all know soon enough.