MLB Trade Rumors: The Los Angeles Dodgers want Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, and he is their “preferred pitching target,” according to Jon Heyman, though they don’t want to trade their “very top prospects.”
“Very top prospects” presumably means pitcher Walker Buehler and outfielder Alex Verdugo, both of whom appear on the cusp of being major league ready — Buehler is believed to be a candidate for a September promotion to fortify the Dodgers’ pen.
Buehler -- who turned 23 today -- was the Dodgers’ 1st round pick (24th overall) in 2015, and has just 75 professional innings due to Tommy John surgery delaying his career, including just 5 innings in 2016. He has split the 2017 campaign between low-A, AA and AAA, and has 100 Ks against 25 walks in 70.1 IP this year. The Rangers would no doubt love to get Buehler in a Yu deal, with an eye towards him being part of the major league rotation at some point in 2018.
Verdugo, meanwhile, was the Dodgers’ second round pick in 2014, and is putting up a .328/.401/.446 slash line for AAA Oklahoma City. There’s not a lot of power there right now, but Verdugo is a solid hitter with a good approach (he has 41 walks against just 35 Ks this year), and is thought to be able to handle center field for at least a few more years. Like Buehler, Verdugo would seem to be someone the Rangers would covet, and see as a potential 2018 contributor.
Heyman mentions that Buehler, Verdugo, Yadier Alvarez and Willie Calhoun are considered to be the Dodgers’ four top prospects, though each has issues. Calhoun is a quality hitter with no position, and Alvarez, recently promoted to AA, could end up as a reliever. I’m not sure if the Rangers would part with Yu for a package headed up by one of those two players.
So we shall see if the Dodgers and Rangers are playing chicken, if the Dodgers blink, if the Rangers blink, if the teams figure out a way to cobble together a package that makes each happy, or if some other team will trade for Yu, or if maybe the Rangers just keep Yu and win the Wild Card and then the ALDS and then the ALCS and then the World Series.