This summer's biggest Hollywood blockbuster isn't a Marvel movie, it's not a comedy or an action movie, though it is quite the thriller. It's the Los Angeles Dodgers. A star-laden team in a star-laden town.
But what else is new? The Dodgers hoard stars like some of us hoard quarters for the laundromat. The fact that the club pulled off two huge trades on Thursday is sort of par for the course for the richest team in baseball.
A day ahead of the MLB trade deadline, the reigning World Series champs and FanGraphs' favorites to win it again reportedly added the top pitcher on the market in Max Scherzer and his Washington Nationals teammate shortstop Trea Turner, although neither club has confirmed the transaction yet. With more than 10 years of MLB service time, Scherzer has 10-and-5 rights to veto any trade proposal, though he's not expected to do so.
The Dodgers also traded for Kansas City Royals ace Danny Duffy, who is on the injured list with a flexor strain. Their payroll is now $285 million, but that matters little in Los Angeles.
What matters is that the Dodgers were able to prevent Scherzer from going to the San Diego Padres. Early in the afternoon, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic had reported San Diego was close to a deal, but by the time the Nats were defeated by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second game of a doubleheader, the fire sale in D.C. was well underway.
General manager Mike Rizzo got a huge haul of prospects for two of the 2019 World Series team's key components and continued a busy day by trading away just about everyone except for the giant racing presidents.
It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers, Padres and their NL West rivals to the north, the San Francisco Giants, will make the playoffs. Positioning is still on the line with a little more than two months to play, but as it stands the Giants have the division lead with the Dodgers 3.0 games behind and holding the first wild-card spot, and the Padres 2.5 games behind Los Angeles (5.5 games out of first place) sitting in second place in the wild-card standings.
The Friars need pitching, and while they did manage to get some from Washington on Thursday night, it wasn't exactly the ace they wanted. Reliever Daniel Hudson, the last man on the mound in the 2019 World Series, will bolster the bullpen, but the ace they desire continues to elude them. San Diego's starters have been inconsistent, with the exception of Yu Darvish.
So it was a huge power move when the Dodgers outbid their divisional foes to win Scherzer. The Dodgers have won eight straight NL West titles, but their streak is on the line with the success of the Padres and the Giants, the latter of which few saw coming this season. San Francisco's rebuild is ahead of schedule, but the Giants are still going for it, opting to keep pending free agents Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt. The Giants have had a stranglehold on the NL West since May 31.