4 Los Angeles Dodgers Trade Targets To Bolster Starting Pitching, Including All-Star

Los Angeles Dodgers
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The Los Angeles Dodgers rotation has been a strength of the team for several years, often led by Clayton Kershaw. Midway through the 2024 season, Los Angeles might need to find help at the MLB trade deadline for starting pitching to remain a strength in the months to come.

The list of Dodgers injuries on the pitching side is lengthy. Walker Buehler (hip), Clayton Kershaw (shoulder), Michael Grove, Dustin May (elbow), and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are among the arms currently sidelined. Buehler and Yamamoto are recent additions, putting even more strain on the pitching staff.

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  • Los Angeles Dodgers rotation stats (FanGraphs): 3.57 ERA (8th in MLB), 8.72 K/9 (6th in MLB), 1.16 WHIP (6th), .224 batting average allowed (5th), 35 quality starts (5th)

While the season-long numbers are strong, the effectiveness of the Dodgers starting pitching has dipped. Since May 19, Los Angeles has a 4.04 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and a .233 batting average allowed from its starting pitchers. With many arms facing an uncertain timeline for a return, it’s worth examining potential Dodgers trade targets on the pitching side.

Yusei Kikuchi, Toronto Blue Jays

Los Angeles Dodgers trade targets
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Los Angeles doesn’t have to break the bank to add starting pitching. There will be multiple half-season rentals available this summer who can provide stability for the Dodgers rotation. More importantly, their status as half-season rentals means Los Angeles won’t have to sacrifice premium prospects in a deal.

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Yusei Kikuchi has been excellent over the past two seasons. Across his last 249 innings pitched, he owns a 3.80 ERA with a 9.5 K/0 and a 3.94 K/BB ratio. The 33-year-old southpaw could be a mid-rotation starter for Los Angeles and shift into becoming the No. 4 starter in the postseason.

There could also be a slight long-term benefit to acquiring Kikuchi. The veteran has a very close relationship with Rintaro Sasaki, who he used to babysit. The Japanese baseball phenom who now plays for Stanford, will certainly be on the Dodgers’ radar in the future. Making a positive impression on Kikuchi and demonstrating that Los Angeles is the best home for Japanese players could help the Dodgers in the years to come, too.

Luis Severino, New York Mets

Los Angeles Dodgers trade targets, Luis Severino
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We’re first headlining the rental pitchers among our Dodgers trade targets. Los Angeles certainly boasts the farm system to land a cost-controlled starting pitcher, but Andrew Friedman will want to keep his options open. The Dodgers also need a shortstop and center fielder, with either position potentially being filled in a deal involving some of the Dodgers top prospects.

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  • Luis Severino stats (ESPN): 3.52 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 61/31 K/BB ratio in 84.1 innings pitched

Severino, $13 million salary, would be an effective mid-rotation starter for Los Angeles. In his age-30 season, the New York Mets righty is only striking out 17.4 percent of batters, but it comes with a .222 batting average allowed. Of note, Severino has his highest groundball rate (50.6 percent) since 2017.

Zach Eflin, Tampa Bay Rays

Los Angeles Dodgers trade targets, Zach Eflin
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The Dodgers are certainly willing to buy low on a player, especially when there’s some nice long-term upside. After leading the American League in wins last season, Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin is now among the more intriguing MLB trade candidates in 2024.

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On paper, Eflin hasn’t been especially sharp. He sports a 3-4 record with a 4.12 ERA and enters MLB games today ranked 91st in strikeouts (57). However, Eflin’s 3.44 expected ERA with a 1.6 percent walk rate and a 74th percentile Chase rate. Owed an $18 million salary in 2025, Los Angeles could potentially get the most out of Eflin for half a season and then flip him this winter.

Jesus Luzardo, Miami Marlins

Los Angeles Dodgers trade targets, Jesus Luzardo
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Jesus Luzardo should be atop the Dodgers trade targets to bolster the starting rotation. The Miami Marlins are in complete teardown mode and with Luzardo having his worst season since landing in Miami, there’s never been a better time to buy low on the 26-year-old lefty.

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A year ago, Luzardo ranked in the 86th percentile for Whiff rate (31.4 percent) and sat in the 90th percentile for fastball velocity (96.7). The hard-throwing southpaw also sports a 21.2 percent strikeout rate this season and opponents slash .186/.259/.278 against him the first time through the order. Under team control through 2026, Luzardo could develop into a No. 2 starter in Los Angeles. For 2024, he’d offer considerable upside for a rotation that is starved for it.