As Major League Baseball's July 30 trade deadline inches closer, there's major potential for an arms race between the three leading contenders in the National League West.
Ironically, the leader of that particular pack might also be the underdog to win said arms race.
In San Diego, it's little secret (i.e., here and here) that Padres general manager A.J. Preller isn't afraid of making blockbuster deals. And in spite of the team's third-place standing at 56-42, ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that the Padres are willing to aim high for impact players even if it means surpassing the $210 million luxury-tax threshold.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the defending World Series champion Dodgers are in second place at 59-38 and haven't been in first place since all the way back on April 28. Yet they're determined to bolster their chances by adding to their depleted starting rotation.
As Mark Feinsand of MLB.com wrote on Monday: "I could see just about any available starting pitcher winding up with the Dodgers. There’s urgency there."
As for the San Francisco Giants, well, they've shocked just about every preseason prognosticator by going 60-35 to rise to the top of the NL West and all of Major League Baseball. Per conventional wisdom, that should have them adopting John Hammond's motto ahead of the deadline: spare no expense.
Whether they will, though, is just as fascinating a question as whether they should.
The Giants Have Tons of Trade Capital...If They Want to Use It
If we can grant that there is such a thing as a "perfect" trade deadline buyer, it's one that:
A. Has prospects to deal
B. Has room to add payroll
C. Has more than one incentive to win now
The Dodgers and the Padres certainly have that third box checked, but there's room for debate with regard to the other two.
Though the Padres' farm system checks in at No. 8 in B/R's rankings, its actual depth doesn't look so great while left-hander MacKenzie Gore is saddled with a 5.85 ERA at Triple-A and shortstop CJ Abrams is done for the year with a leg injury. And even if they're indeed open to going over the luxury-tax threshold, the resulting penalties are surely a disincentive to do so.