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Dodgers Dugout: Should the Dodgers trade for Shohei Ohtani?

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Bobby Miller plays in the second inning of a baseball game.
Bobby Miller
(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)
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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. A reminder, the trade deadline is Aug. 1 at 3 p.m. PT.

As we draw closer to the trade deadline, it seems all anyone can talk about is Shohei Ohtani. Will the Angels trade him? Who will offer enough to get him? Our own Bill Plaschke had his take on the matter earlier this week, saying the Angels should trade Ohtani to the Dodgers. But let’s take a look at the other side of that. Should the Dodgers trade for Ohtani?

My conclusion is no.

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Let’s talk about why.

First, as a batter, Ohtani can only be the designated hitter. And he is a great DH. But the Dodgers have a great DH this season in J.D. Martinez. Ohtani and Martinez started at DH for their respective leagues in the All-Star game. Also, Martinez has only one other position he could play: First base. That job is taken by some guy named Freeman. You could make Martinez part of the trade for Ohtani, but you aren’t filling a particular hole in the offense by getting Ohtani.

Second, unless the Angels are complete idiots, they are going to want a boatload of prospects. A couple trade predictor sites say it will take six top prospects. I don’t think it will take that many, but let’s say that’s true. The Dodgers would have to give up something like this: Diego Cartaya, Gavin Stone, Andy Pages, Bobby Miller, Maddux Bruns and Logan Wagner for Ohtani, plus Martinez if you want Ohtani to bat. That’s six of your top 30 prospects. For someone who might only be with you for three months. For a team that is already in first place. And a team that has made big trade deadline deals in the past and still didn’t win the World Series. The odds of winning the World Series get better with Ohtani, but as we’ve learned year after year after year after year during this run, there are no guarantees in the postseason.

Plus, most experts say the Dodgers will sign Ohtani in the offseason. So you are trading six top prospects for a guy you are already going to sign? Of course, some of these same experts guaranteed the Padres were going to acquire Max Scherzer at the trade deadline a couple of years ago and that didn’t happen either.

So, you trade six top prospects (or more realistically, maybe four top prospects, which could include Gavin Lux and James Outman) for either three months of Ohtani that guarantees nothing, or for a guy you are confident you are going to sign anyway? I’m not seeing it.

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Maybe the Angels fall totally out of the wild-card race the next couple of weeks, and are willing to accept just 3-4 top prospects. If you could whittle it down to Cartaya, Stone and Bruns, then maybe. But as things stand now? No.

The downside here would be if the Dodgers don’t trade for him, but the Giants do (Eric Karros said on Fox Sports that he expects the Giants to acquire him). Ohtani goes to San Francisco, loves it there, and because of that, decides to take less money than the Dodgers offer and re-sign with San Francisco. This is what happened with Mark McGwire in 1997. Oakland traded him to St. Louis. McGwire loved it there so much he decided to stay after at first being doubtful he would.

Of course, this all may be moot as Angels owner Arte Moreno may think he can re-sign Ohtani in the offseason and doesn’t trade him. Or he decides he doesn’t want to trade him to the Dodgers for any reason.

And no one really knows what Ohtani is thinking. Not even the experts.

But what do you think? Should the Dodgers trade for Shohei Ohtani if it costs them six top prospects? Vote here and let me know.

What to do with Julio Urías

For a guy heading to free agency for the first time, Julio Urías is doing it all wrong. He’s supposed to be having his best season now. Instead, he is having his worst. After Wednesday’s debacle against the Baltimore Orioles (eight runs in five innings), he has a 5.02 ERA. His career ERA heading into this season was 2.82.

I did get one email after the Orioles game saying the Dodgers should release him, which seems to be a bit of an overreaction, but what is going on with Urías?

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It would be nice to pin it on a recent stretch of bad games, but he has been consistently mediocre this season. ERAs by month:

April, 4.41
May, 4.37
July, 6.75

He missed all of June with a hamstring injury, then came back this month. In his two starts previous to Wednesday, he had given up two runs in 12 innings, so it looked like he had turned the corner. After his fourth start this season, he had an ERA of 1.90, so things were looking good. Then the wheels came off. He has given up five runs in two different starts this season, six in two starts and now eight. Clayton Kershaw reclaimed the ace mantle this year.

With their starting rotation in tatters, the Dodgers need Urías to turn things around, but can he? Has the new pitch clock thrown him off his game? Is there some sort of mysterious ailment causing problems this season? (I feel like the announcer on the “Batman” TV show. Tune in next week to find out. Same Urías-time. Same Urías-channel).

If he doesn’t get better, his free-agent value has gone way down, strangely enough making it easier for the Dodgers to bring him back next season. If he pitches poorly the rest of the season, a one-year deal isn’t out of the question so he can reprove himself (much like Cody Bellinger did this season). Just one of the many things to watch as the season races to a conclusion.

Max

More than one person wrote in this week to ask why the Dodgers continue to play Max Muncy. If you focus on only his batting average, it is quite the head-scratcher. But you shouldn’t focus only on batting average. If you look at the 14 Dodgers to have at least 50 at-bats this season, Muncy is 12th in batting average. However, he is sixth in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging and is one of seven Dodgers to have an above-average OPS+. So, it becomes less of a head-scratcher when you look at it that way. Personally, I’d bat him ninth and let him serve as a de facto second leadoff man, but Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts must have lost my phone number because they have yet to call me for lineup advice.

Key Dodgers ranked by OPS+ (100 is a league-average hitter):

Freddie Freeman, 154
Mookie Betts, 152
Will Smith, 140
J.D. Martinez, 125
Jason Heyward, 117
Max Muncy, 105
James Outman, 103
Chris Taylor, 93
David Peralta, 91
Miguel Vargas, 80
Miguel Rojas, 48
Austin Barnes, -11

Bad news Barnes

Austin Barnes is having a historic season for all the wrong reasons. He went one for four on Wednesday and now has 11 hits in 102 at-bats this season, a .108 batting average. If he remains at that or lower, he will set a record.

The worst batting averages for non-pitchers in a full season, minimum 100 at-bats, since 1901:

Austin Barnes, 2023 Dodgers, .1078
Ben Egan, 1915 Cleveland, .1083
José González, 1991 LAD/CLE/PIT, .111
Trayce Thompson, 2018 CWS/OAK, .117
Dwain Anderson, 1973 SDP/STL, .121
Frank O’Rourke, 1912 Boston Braves, .122
Mike Benjamin, 1991 Giants, .1226
Norm Schlueter, 1944 Cleveland, .1229
Bradley Zimmer, 2022 PHI/TOR, .124
Bill Killefer, 1910 St. Louis Browns, .124

Of course, it is a relatively small sample size. Players wildly overperform on underperform in 100 at-bats all the time. Dave Anderson was a .242 career hitter, but in 1990 he hit .350 for the season in 100 at-bats. That didn’t make him Tony Gwynn, and Barnes isn’t as bad a hitter as he appears now. Interesting that two current Dodgers and a former Dodger are on the above list, though.

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Because I’m an idiot

In the last newsletter, I wrote that Jake Marisnick was a member of the 2017 Dodgers, when of course he was a member of the 2017 Astros. My brain and hands disconnected. My apologies to all.

Injury news

Speaking of Marisnick, he went on the IL on Wednesday because of a strained left hamstring. The Dodgers recalled outfielder Jonny Deluca to replace him. The Dodger also sent right-handed reliever Nick Robertson to the minors and recalled left-handed reliever Justin Bruihl.

Clayton Kershaw threw a bullpen session Tuesday and said he felt well. He is still targeted to return in early August.

Up next

Friday: Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 5-3, 3.72 ERA) at Texas (*Andrew Heaney, 6-6, 4.43 ERA), 5:05 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Saturday: Dodgers (Bobby Miller, 5-1, 4.25 ERA) at Texas (Dane Dunning, 8-2, 2.82 ERA), 1 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Sunday: Dodgers (Emmet Sheehan, 3-0, 4.91 ERA) at Texas (Martin Pérez, 7-3, 4.84 ERA), 11:35 a.m. PT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

*-left-handed

In case you missed it

Dodgers have some holes to fill. Here’s a look at potential trade targets

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‘You didn’t get the icing on the cake.’ Dodgers recall muted celebration of 2020 title

Did heat wave trigger double-figure scoring outburst by Dodgers and 11 other teams?

‘He’s trying to win the MVP.’ Mookie Betts leading Dodgers with renewed joy, consistency

Plaschke: Arte Moreno and the Angels would never trade Ohtani to the Dodgers? Why not?

And finally

Ross Porter chats with former longtime bullpen coach Mark Cresse. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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