Plaschke: Dodgers whiff and Padres win at trade deadline

It was close of business also known as Andrew Friedman Appreciation Day, a day usually associated with cork popping and pats on the back.

But for a Dodgers organization that generally beats every transaction out of the park, Tuesday was filled with an odd, lonely noise.

It was the hiss of a strike.

Goliath didn’t plunder this time. This time the rich didn’t get richer. This time the mighty Dodgers got Padre’d.

is that a word It should be.

Outbid by their San Diego neighbors for gorgeous young Juan Soto, the Dodgers got Padre’d.

Failing to acquire a capable arm beyond center assist Chris Martin while their San Diego pals traded in for baseball’s best seamer Josh Hader, the Dodgers got Padre’d.

By adopting another underwater hitter in Joey Gallo, while their San Diego friends added the steady-wielding Josh Bell, the Dodgers became Padre’d.

No, the Dodgers aren’t going to blow their double-digit lead in the National League West to the second-place team in the funny uniforms. The Dodgers have baseball’s best pitching staff and second-ranked offense. They don’t work. Yes, the Dodgers can still win the World Series with their current roster, and probably should.

But make no mistake, this trade opens a three-year window for the Padres’ championship hopes, with Soto, 23, under the club’s control for three pennant races. At the same time, it’s easily closing the window on a Dodgers team that’s getting a little older and creakier this winter and could lose one of its co-MVPs, Trea Turner, to a free hand.

And what if… this October… the Padres survive the newfangled wild card round and somehow meet the Dodgers in the division or league championship series? And what if they’re playing a winner-takes-all game?

The Dodgers are led by their all-world quartet of Mookie Betts, Turner, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith. But the Padres can now counter with a foursome of Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Soto and Bell.

The Dodgers have the starting advantage, but not by much, especially considering their Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw is frail, their ace Walker Buehler is injured, their fan favorite Julio Urías is fickle, and their makeshifts Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson are non-playoff- tested.

The Dodgers may then have to close with a shaky Craig Kimbrel while the Padres will finish with the Heat of Hader.

Who do you have in a one game series?

Don’t answer that.

“They’ve done a lot better on their team over the last few days and we’re looking forward to this contest,” Dodgers baseball boss Friedman said Tuesday about the Padres during a conference call with reporters.

The idea that these Padres were even in the Dodgers league was unthinkable a few days ago, but their general manager, AJ Preller, emptied his pockets for the Nationals to bring in Soto and seemingly outbid a rich and deep organization, that should never be outbid by anyone for anything.

Juan Soto celebrates with Josh Bell after his solo home run against the New York Mets.

Juan Soto (right) celebrates with Josh Bell after his solo home run against the New York Mets Monday in Washington.

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Friedman usually owns this tag, remember? Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Max Scherzer and Turner, remember? And then there was the off-season trade for Betts.

Does a casual fan remember all the prospects traded for these players? History will show that trading kids for superstars is almost always worth it. In Soto’s case, he’s both a kid and a superstar, a unicorn of a player who was only traded because he didn’t want to accept the Reconstruction Nationals’ $440 million 15-year contract offer.

Soto was a one-time acquisition, and while the Dodgers didn’t really need him, they certainly didn’t need him to go to any of their division rivals.

Allowing this to happen could be the biggest gamble of Friedman’s illustrious career here.

“Our track record suggests that we obviously would have been aggressively trying to figure something out,” Friedman said.

But he admitted his earlier willingness to give up their best prospects was a little less as the side played so well.

“We felt really good about the team that we have here,” he said, later adding, “We have a very special dynamic in this space right now, it’s something we’re aware of.”

Roger that. But if they didn’t want to chase Soto with their elite prospects like catcher Diego Cartaya, pitcher Bobby Miller and third baseman Miguel Vargas – who was just promoted to the big leagues on Tuesday – then why not go elsewhere to start pitching to start? Depth? Why not make a serious run for Cincinnati native Luis Castillo who eventually ended up with the Seattle Mariners? Or bring home Frankie Montas, who became a New York Yankee?

Friedman believes they will add plenty of pitching as several strong arms return from injury over the next six weeks to join newly active Andrew Heaney. He talks about people like Dustin May, Blake Treinen and maybe even Longshot Buehler.

“We might come back with a combination of weapons…it spoke to having a high bar,” he said. “We felt very comfortable with the potential of our pitching staff in October.”

But that’s another gamble, especially on rotation. Over the next two months, the problems in the back of the bullpen can be fixed with several revolving helpers, but the problem in the front of the rotation remains uncertain.

“I feel good about our team and their performance,” Friedman said. “If we have an acute need, you’ll see that we’re more on tilt. I feel good because we were so aggressive.”

But were they aggressive enough? The answer will come in October. The Padres will wait.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-08-02/plaschke-dodgers-trade-deadline-mistake-padres-juan-soto Plaschke: Dodgers whiff and Padres win at trade deadline

Emma Bowman

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