by Rowan Kavner
None of the three teams jockeying for position atop the National League West race appeared willing to relent in a wild trade deadline that saw the Dodgers, Giants and Padres all make moves.
The Dodgers found themselves in unfamiliar and unexpected territory entering the July 30 deadline, trailing the Major League-leading Giants by three games in a division that featured three of the four 60-win NL teams. So they did something about it.
They acquired All-Stars Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Nationals after a “chaotic” 48 hours, during which president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman’s hopes of getting the pair went up and down daily. At one point amid the uncertainty, there were reports Scherzer and the Padres were close to a deal.
“We were pretty engaged at that point,” Friedman said. “It definitely spooked me for a second. But I feel like things would’ve been playing out differently if that were the case. It definitely got my attention, and my heart might’ve skipped a beat or two but kind of quickly came back to where the conversations were and where it was trending and what was going on, and that helped.”
Friedman said the Dodgers’ decision to add Scherzer, Turner and left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy before the deadline was “about adding impact talent,” but it was an added bonus that the prized acquisitions didn’t go to a division rival. The Dodgers’ second-place standing in the division also made an impact on the moves.
“It’s definitely a factor,” Friedman said. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. It reminds me a little bit of 2018, a similar-ish place and approach. Obviously when we can get to July and have a comfortable lead in the West and focus on levers to pull to help our playoff team, that’s ideal, and certain times we’re not in that position. Right now, we’ve got to really think long and hard about August and September, so that definitely played a role in this for sure.”
The trades should give the Dodgers a boost as they wait for some of their regulars to return. But their rivals made moves, too.
Before the end of the deadline, the Giants acquired All-Star Kris Bryant and reliever Tony Watson. The Padres recently added their own All-Star in Adam Frazier as well as pitcher Daniel Hudson and outfielder Jake Marisnick.
“For anyone, myself included, a sports fan, baseball fan, to wrap their head around NL West baseball, see as the dust finally settles, it’s crazy,” said manager Dave Roberts. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this. The NL West, there’s a lot of movement. The one thing you can look at with the NL West, I’ve said this from the beginning, it’s the best division in baseball, and it’s the deepest.”
Beyond their latest acquisitions, the Dodgers got another deadline boost on Friday with the return of Corey Seager.
The Dodger shortstop had been out since fracturing his right hand when he was hit by a pitch on May 15. The reigning World Series MVP had a .265/.361/.422 slash line with four home runs before getting injured.
Seager’s road back to the active roster included more hurdles than he anticipated as he dealt with lingering soreness in the hand and scans not improving as quickly as he would’ve liked. But after two and a half months out, he said he’s excited to be playing again.
“It was very frustrating,” Seager told reporters. “I got close a couple times, played some games and it wasn’t right. You want to be right when you’re out there. It was unfortunate, but we’re ready now.”
Seager returned to his normal position at shortstop and was batting clean-up Friday in Arizona. What the Dodgers choose to do defensively when shortstop Trea Turner joins the club remains to be seen.
“You’re excited to add guys like that,” Seager said. “Whether they’re pitchers, position players, play your position or not, when you can add elite talent like we did, it helps you.”
With top prospect Keibert Ruiz going to Washington, the Dodgers filled their need for catching depth on the 40-man roster by claiming Chad Wallach off waivers from the Marlins.
Wallach, the son of former Dodger coach Tim Wallach, was designated for assignment on July 24 after posting a .200 batting average with two doubles and a triple in 22 games with Miami. Wallach has spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues with Cincinnati (2017) and Miami (2018–21), batting .207 with three home runs. He was drafted by the Marlins in the fifth round in 2013.
“Chad’s a big leaguer,” Roberts said. “His father was a coach of mine when I was here with the Dodgers, so there’s a baseball intelligence, pedigree. Obviously losing Keibert, to have him in the organization who’s caught Major League games, taken Major League at-bats, certainly added depth. Good addition.”
Notebook: Division race heats up further at deadline, Corey Seager returns was originally published in Dodger Insider on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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