The Los Angeles Dodgers closed the non-waiver trade deadline with a bang on Monday, agreeing to a deal for Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish just before time was up. While Darvish isn’t having a great season, he’s an outstanding starter and only solidifies Los Angeles’ place as the best team in baseball right now.
The Dodgers currently have baseball’s best record at 74-31 and sit 5.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros (68-36) who have the second-best mark in the bigs. Los Angeles is on pace to win 114 games this year, which would tie the team with the 1998 New York Yankees for the second-most wins in history (the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners each finished with 116). So adding Darvish was just a boost to an already fantastic team.
The 30-year-old Darvish is currently having his worst season in the big leagues, but it’s not as if he has been horrific. He’s posted a 6-9 record with a 4.01 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 148 strikeouts in 137 innings. Darvish gave up 10 earned runs in his last start against the Miami Marlins on July 26, which added to an already disappointing July. He posted a 7.20 ERA during the month and went 0-3. The Rangers had also lost 10 of Darvish’s last 12 starts, but he should benefit from pitching at Dodger Stadium.
Clayton Kershaw is out for several weeks with a back injury, and Los Angeles needed another arm for its rotation. The team’s starting pitchers already lead all of baseball with a ERA of 3.25 and are second in batting average against (.232). Alex Wood (12-1, 2.38 ERA, 0.99 WHIP), Kenta Maeda (9-4, 4.09, 1.20), Rich Hill (8-4, 3.35, 1.18) and Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 3.84, 1.23) should combine with Darvish to provide a solid rotation down the stretch until Kershaw is ready to return.
Darvish is a rental and will hit free agency after the season, but even if he’s not back with the team next year, the Dodgers needed to take this shot. He’s a great starter with playoff experience.
The price for Darvish wasn’t cheap. The Dodgers will send the 4th-ranked prospect in their system, Willie Calhoun, 17th-ranked A.J. Alexy and 27th-ranked Brendon Davis to Texas. Calhoun is ranked in MLB.com’s top 100, but if Los Angeles can win it’s first World Series since 1988 with Darvish in the rotation, no one will care what it gave up to get there.
It’s clear Big Blue is all-in on this year. And given how things have played out so far, that’s absolutely the right stance to have.