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Dodgers

Dodgers covet Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez, balk at trading Gavin Lux

Felipe Vasquez
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Felipe Vasquez delivers during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.
(Justin Berl / Getty Images)

A smidge less than 48 hours until the nonwaiver trade deadline, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did not alter the company line. There’s an obvious need to bolster the bullpen for a World Series run and the Dodgers are hunting for reinforcements, but Roberts’ job is to not show the organization’s hand, even a little bit. So he didn’t Monday afternoon, a few hours before the pitching staff was going to begin its run through the Coors Field gantlet.

“I think that where we’re at right now, it just puts us in a position not to reach,” Roberts said, “and not do something that not only compromises this year potentially, because nothing’s guaranteed, but the years to come.”

Defining reach in this instance is subjective, but the Dodgers are in the market for an elite reliever. Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez is their top target, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Vazquez would cost significant prospect capital. ESPN reported Monday the Pirates’ demand for infielder Gavin Lux, widely regarded as the Dodgers’ top prospect, is stalling talks. The Pirates have also asked about Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top prospect among starting pitchers, and Keibert Ruiz, their most highly regarded catching prospect, according to a person with knowledge of situation. The person is not authorized to speak on the record and requested anonymity.

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Defensive gaffes by Max Muncy and Joc Pederson play pivotal roles in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 9-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

The left-handed Vazquez, 27, would fill multiple needs. He has been dominant and has excelled in high-leverage spots. An All-Star for the second year in a row, Vazquez has a 1.87 earned-run average in 40 games . He has a 1.062 WHIP, strikes out 14.1 batters per nine innings, and boasts a 6.18 strikeout-to-walk rate. Vazquez’s very team-friendly contract terms through the 2023 season add another level of appeal.

Although Vazquez has been one of the most dominant closers, the Dodgers have not indicated they would shift Kenley Jansen out of the role should they acquire a high-caliber reliever. Jansen is in the midst of his worst season. His 3.67 ERA and 1.056 WHIP are career highs. He has often needed high-wire acts to escape, including against the Washington Nationals on Friday, when he pitched out of a bases-loaded jam.

“You look back at the last three years, I can speak to, that every year there’s always talk about adding to the bullpen,” Roberts said of Jansen. “So he’s been our closer the last three years so I don’t think that it affects him, shouldn’t affect him. And we’re all trying to win a championship so i hope it doesn’t affect his psyche.”

Enrique Hernandez is put on injured list

As expected, the Dodgers put utility player Enrique Hernandez on the injured list because of a left-hand sprain. Kristopher Negron, a utility player acquired from the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, was put on the roster in Hernandez’s place.

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Although the Dodgers have been mysterious about Hernandez’s injury, he is expected to sit out two to six weeks, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Hernandez hurt the hand Wednesday on a swing against the Angels. He underwent an MRI exam Friday but remained on the roster through the weekend, limited to defense and baserunning as the Dodgers sought a replacement capable of playing shortstop to back up Corey Seager.

Negron has played every position but catcher and pitcher the last three years. Roberts said Negron will start Tuesday at second base before making a start at shortstop to give Seager a breather.

Tuesday’s starter will be ...

Julio Urias will start against the Rockies. Tony Gonsolin was with the team Monday but won’t be recalled until Tuesday. Gonsolin, who will pitch Tuesday, made his major league debut June 26 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He gave up four runs in four innings.

Short hops

The Dodgers swapped right-handed relievers with triple-A Oklahoma City, optioning Jaime Schultz and promoting Josh Sborz. Schultz pitched two innings Sunday. The Dodgers wanted another fresh arm in preparation for Coors Field. ... Dylan Floro, another right-hander, threw a bullpen session. Roberts said Floro will likely come off the injured list Wednesday. Floro has been out since July 19 because of a neck injury. ... The Dodgers traded left-hander Zac Rosscup to the St. Louis Cardinals for cash. Rosscup gave up three runs — two earned — in three innings for the Dodgers. He had been with Oklahoma City. ... Tyler White, acquired from the Houston Astros last week, is slated to make his first start for the Dodgers on Tuesday at first base.


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