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Inbox: Year-old trade chatter still holds up

@kengurnick
November 22, 2019

Do the Dodgers have a preferred trade target? --@AndrewF64939351 Not sure if they do, but I do: Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber. There was plenty of chatter last winter about the Dodgers asking for Kluber and the Indians asking for outfielder Alex Verdugo. That trade still makes sense. Kluber has only

Do the Dodgers have a preferred trade target?
--@AndrewF64939351

Not sure if they do, but I do: Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber. There was plenty of chatter last winter about the Dodgers asking for Kluber and the Indians asking for outfielder Alex Verdugo. That trade still makes sense.

Kluber has only one year left on his contract at $17.5 million (plus a 2021 option for $18 million or a $1 million buyout) and he’s coming off a season ruined by a broken arm when he was hit by a line drive. The right-hander has mixed postseason results: great in 2016, not so much in ’17 and ’18. The Indians must believe he’s healthy, because they picked up the 2020 option on the $17.5 million salary.

Verdugo showed his talent, but left the Dodgers perplexed when he didn’t play after Aug. 4 because of a vaguely defined injury.

In your opinion, what would be a fair offer to get Mookie Betts? Joc Pederson, Tony Gonsolin and Keibert Ruiz sounds fair for a potential one-year player.
--@dodgersRfine

That is similar to the haul suggested by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. With all due respect, I don’t see it. For a team that simply does not trade away its top prospects, that’s a huge return for a one-year rental. I also can’t imagine this Dodgers front office signing Betts, or anybody, to a nine-figure extension -- ever.

Unless Betts has taken up relief pitching, he doesn’t address the main flaw that the Nationals exploited in the postseason. If you trade prospects for an outfielder, you have fewer options to improve the bullpen, which is the weakest link.

Do the Dodgers land Gerrit Cole?
--@JustinArgomaniz

I can’t imagine that happening. This front office has never signed one of the three biggest free-agent contracts in any offseason. The Dodgers passed on pitchers Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, David Price, Zack Greinke, Yu Darvish and Patrick Corbin when each landed a nine-figure deal as free agents. So, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Why didn't the Dodgers protect Jordan Sheffield from the Rule 5 Draft? What do they see in Zach McKinstry?
--@LADBurnerAcct

With Sheffield, it’s command. He’s a smallish (5-foot-10) right-hander with a history of injuries. He was moved to the bullpen last year. While he has a lot of strikeouts, he also has too many walks. By contrast, McKinstry is an overachiever (33rd-round pick) who ideally fits management’s obsession with defensive versatility and showed a recent uptick in left-handed power at the plate.

If held to the fire, are the Dodgers more willing to part with Tony Gonsolin or Dustin May?
--@krisjhernandez

MLB Pipeline ranks May as the No. 2 prospect in the Dodgers' system, so I’d guess he’s untouchable. (Gonsolin is No. 6). May made the postseason roster, Gonsolin didn’t. May is 22, Gonsolin is 25. May received a $997,500 signing bonus, Gonsolin only $2,500.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.