Dodgers miss on Justin Verlander, get spurned by Eduardo Rodriguez at trade deadline

Detroit Tigers' Eduardo Rodriguez pitches against the Oakland Athletics on July 5, 2023, in Detroit.
Eduardo Rodriguez of the Detroit Tigers rejected a trade to the Dodgers on Tuesday.
(Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Just hours before baseball’s trade deadline Tuesday, the Dodgers thought they’d finally struck a major deal.

They had agreed with the Detroit Tigers on a trade for veteran left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez, netting the kind of frontline starting pitcher the club had been longing for amid the starting rotation’s seasonlong troubles.

Rodriguez has a 2.95 ERA this year. He has eight years of experience as well as a World Series-winning pedigree. He even had several former teammates and close friends on the Dodgers.


The only problem: He also had Los Angeles listed as one of 10 teams on the no-trade clause in his contract.

Thus, in a deadline day stunner, Rodriguez vetoed the trade in order to stay closer to his family in Miami — a decision that blew up the Dodgers’ last, best chance to land a frontline starter before the deadline.

Yes, the Dodgers did add left-hander Ryan Yarbrough from the Kansas City Royals, a steady but unspectacular swingman whose role with the team hadn’t been immediately decided.

Yes, they improved their depth with trades last week for right-handed hitters Kiké Hernández and Amed Rosario, and pitchers Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly.

Real-time updates and analysis on all the transactions in Major League Baseball leading up to the trade deadline. Teams had until 3 p.m. Tuesday to make trades.

Aug. 1, 2023

But, with a banged-up, underperforming and inexperienced rotation that ranks 25th in the majors in ERA, the Dodgers needed a more impactful upgrade. And they thought they had landed a perfect deal — only to be rebuffed by the last legitimate target left on their wish list.

“There were a couple guys that we aggressively pursued,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “For various different reasons for those top-end guys, it just didn’t work out.”


After passing on a high price for Chicago White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito last week, the Dodgers missed out on another top target Tuesday afternoon, when New York Mets ace Justin Verlander was traded to the Houston Astros.

For a time on Monday afternoon, the Dodgers appeared to be a likely landing spot for Verlander, with the sides working to find the right package of prospects and cash considerations to swing a deal for the three-time Cy Young Award winner.

By Monday night, however, circumstances changed. The Astros, with whom Verlander won two World Series in 2017 and 2022, reengaged the Mets on a reunion with the right-hander, who maintains a strong relationship with Astros owner Jim Crane.

With Verlander holding a no-trade clause, the match was viewed around the industry — and within the Dodgers’ front office — as an inevitability: If the Astros wanted Verlander, that was where he was going to steer himself.

Kansas City Royals pitcher Ryan Yarbrough throws against the Minnesota Twins on July 30.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

On Tuesday afternoon, the Mets and Astros struck a deal, forcing the Dodgers to turn their attention to Rodriguez.


The Dodgers knew Rodriguez had a no-trade clause and were never told that he’d waive it to come to L.A.

According to Friedman, however, the team had no indication that Rodriguez would object to a deal.

“There was every reason to believe that he would [waive his no-trade clause], from various conversations,” Friedman said. “But nothing definitive.”

Initially, the Dodgers thought they might need to sweeten the deal to get Rodriguez to approve the trade. Once they received word that he wasn’t going to sign off on it, the Dodgers’ front office was stunned.

“We thought with having a lot of his ex-teammates and guys he’s played with, [and] our place in the standings, I thought we would be very desirable,” Friedman said. “We respect that he had this right and he exercised it. Obviously would’ve loved for him to join what we have going here. But it’s hard for us to argue with family reasons.”

Rival front office executives, who were granted anonymity to speak freely, said generally it is on the team trading a player to ensure the no-trade clause is waived.


It’s strange to see one of the most hard-throwing executives in baseball get torched during the trade deadline, but, make no mistake: Friedman’s aura has been lit up.

Aug. 1, 2023

“Whose job is it to do it? End of the day, the team that has him, that gave him that right,” one executive said. “So for me, it was on the Tigers much more than the Dodgers.”

Still, some members of the Dodgers privately voiced surprise at the situation, wondering how the front office could get so far into talks on a trade — particularly for a player with so many connections in the Dodgers clubhouse — and not know that a no-trade clause ultimately would kill the deal.

Friedman insisted the timing of the news, which emerged publicly in a report from ESPN barely an hour before the deadline, didn’t box the Dodgers out of any last-second alternative. By that point, they didn’t view any of the remaining starters on the market as a big-enough improvement to their current staff (i.e. Michael Lorenzen and Jack Flaherty), or available at a reasonable price (i.e. Dylan Cease and Mitch Keller).

“We feel really good about the team that we have and the depth we have behind it,” Friedman said. “That said, you always want to feel even better.”

For a moment Tuesday, the Dodgers thought they would.

They got their hopes up for a Rodriguez trade. They had an agreement in place.

Ultimately, though, they came away relatively empty-handed, leaving their most glaring need in the starting rotation unfulfilled entering the stretch run of the season.


In minor moves, the Dodgers traded left-hander Justin Bruihl to Colorado for cash and right-hander Phil Bickford and left-hander Adam Kolarek to the Mets for cash.

VIDEO | 03:00
Dodgers president Andrew Friedman talks trade deadline