Vazquez, a two-time All-Star, is under club control through 2023. His deal is guaranteed until the end of the 2021 MLB season with two team options at $10 million each in 2022 and 2023.
The Dodgers are in need of a left-handed reliever. They don’t come much better than Vazquez, and his years of team control make him one of the most valuable commodities in Major League Baseball.
Kenley Jansen’s workload has been enormous in recent seasons, and right-handers dominate the Dodgers’ relief group. Vazquez could be used as a set up man or share closing duties with Jansen. The fit is great, but the price is jaw-droppingly high.
The Dodgers’ success, despite their consistently high payroll, has been built on player development. Corey Seager, Alex Verdugo and Cody Bellinger are all crucial parts of the Major League team – the front office has been very selective when it comes to trading prospects.
Smith is already contributing in the big leagues. May has nasty stuff and might step into the rotation next season. Lux is very close. Ruiz will be a Major Leaguer before long, though Smith’s ascension perhaps makes him surplus to requirements.
Los Angeles have been able to rack up the wins year after year because they’ve not thrown all their chips into the middle. Back-to-back World Series losses might alter their approach, but it risks undermining their supremacy in the coming years. The combination of Seager, Verdugo and Bellinger with one of the best farms in baseball and the ability to spend is a scary one for not just the National League West, but the whole of baseball.
While Vazquez has been elite for the Pirates over several seasons, the risk of trading for a reliever remains. Reliever pitcher results are volatile. Vazquez might remain one of the best two or three left handers in the game, but he could just as easily drop off to something less significant. There are no guarantees in baseball or sport – that is exaggerated when it comes to relief arms.
In MLB Pipeline’s midseason list, the aforementioned Dodgers quarter were ranked: Lux (10th), May (35th), Ruiz (36th), Smith (57th).
Can Andrew Friedman justify giving up two of them for the uncertainty of Vazquez? Morosi reported the Pirates would want May and Ruiz, are the 35th and 36th prospects in baseball worth it for a relief pitcher?
The market for left-handed relievers is quiet. The temptation to get a deal done for Vazquez is understandable, especially considering the Dodgers’ less than stellar bullpen this season.
Their current situation is so good because of the strength of the Major League roster and a brilliant farm system, however. Maintaining prospect depth while winning games is impressive, it’s the recipe for being a consistent postseason force. Trading for Vazquez would be a step away from the formula that has made the Dodgers the National League’s best team over the last five years.