The most significant development regarding the Dodgers on Wednesday might not have happened here. It might have happened in Florida, where David Price walked off the mound in the ninth inning and waved to the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays.
"If this is my last game here, thanks," Price told Tampa Bay reporters in explaining his gesture.
The Dodgers are three games out of first place in the National League West, with five weeks to the trade deadline. They have the highest payroll in baseball history, so they will be linked to just about every big-name player to hit the trade market.
Price could be the first one. The Rays are prepared to trade their ace "right now," according to rival executives cited this week by ESPN's Buster Olney.
The Dodgers looked into trading for Price last winter, but they decided — as did every other club that inquired — that the asking price in prospects was prohibitive. The Dodgers have scouted him recently, but General Manager Ned Colletti declined to discuss anything regarding Price.
The Dodgers appear a longshot for Price, but they cannot be ruled out, because they have the money and the prospects to get him. Dodgers President Stan Kasten has said the team wants to rebuild its farm system, and two years of investment toward that goal could be compromised by sending top prospects — say, pitcher Julio Urias and infielder Corey Seager, the Dodgers' Futures Game selections — to the Rays for Price.
After a rocky start, the Dodgers have done their part, putting the team in position to consider adding talent. In his previous eight seasons as the Dodgers' general manager, Colletti has made 20 trades from the final week of June through the July 31 deadline.
"You're always trying to improve your ballclub," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "Ned Colletti and the front office have always done a good job of improving the ballclub at the deadline. I expect this year will be no different.
"But I like the direction this club is headed in as well."
The Dodgers could use some bullpen help, and the latest injury to shortstop Hanley Ramirez could make infield depth a priority as well. Another starter could be perceived as overkill, but getting Price would keep him away from potential October rivals — including the very interested St. Louis Cardinals, who arrive at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. Also, the injury to Chad Billingsley and ineffectiveness of Paul Maholm have robbed the Dodgers of their depth in starting pitching.
Who wouldn't appreciate a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett and Price?
Dan Haren, probably. Haren delivered his shortest start of the year Wednesday, giving up four runs in 41/3 innings of a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
"I've been pretty much mediocre here for a while," Haren said.
In five starts this month, Haren has a 5.20 earned-run average, and he has given up eight home runs in 272/3 innings.
Still, the Dodgers are 9-7 when he starts, his overall ERA is 3.83, and the team has yet to be blown out with him on the mound.
For a No. 5 starter, that's pretty good. Haren said he is healthy.
"I'm confident I'll be better," he said. "If I'm healthy, usually the results show."
Manager Don Mattingly said he would wait to see what the front office can do for an upgrade but said he believes his team can win without one.
"I think we're comfortable with our guys," Mattingly said. "Ned and his people will look at anything we can do. But we're happy with our guys."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times