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Dodgers land Gyorko, Kolarek at Deadline

LA will trust talent on hand after being unable to land impact reliever
@kengurnick
July 31, 2019

DENVER -- The Dodgers didn’t acquire closers Felipe Vazquez, Edwin Diaz, Raisel Iglesias, Kirby Yates or Will Smith (the pitcher), but neither did anybody else. “I think the fact that none really moved speaks to some of those challenges,” club president Andrew Friedman said after Wednesday’s Trade Deadline came and

DENVER -- The Dodgers didn’t acquire closers Felipe Vazquez, Edwin Diaz, Raisel Iglesias, Kirby Yates or Will Smith (the pitcher), but neither did anybody else.

“I think the fact that none really moved speaks to some of those challenges,” club president Andrew Friedman said after Wednesday’s Trade Deadline came and went without the Dodgers making the seismic moves of recent summers.

When the dust settled, the Dodgers:

• acquired Tampa Bay left-handed reliever Adam Kolarek for Minor League outfielder Niko Hulsizer;

• acquired injured St. Louis utility man Jedd Gyorko, international cap space and cash for injured left-hander Tony Cingrani and Minor League right-handed pitcher Jeffry Abreu;

• lost pitcher Brock Stewart off waivers to Toronto;

• and sold Minor League catcher Rocky Gale to the Rays.

But Vazquez, the wipeout closer to pair with Kenley Jansen, remained with the Pirates, who reportedly wanted two of the club’s top four prospects -- pitcher Dustin May, infielder Gavin Lux and catchers Keibert Ruiz and the other Will Smith, now starting for the big league club. Ruiz was presumed to be the most expendable of the quartet, but not enough to land Vazquez.

“I love making big moves that add more talent on top of the talent we already have,” Friedman said. “Anytime you really want something to happen, the natural reaction is to be disappointed, but that’s not very productive. All of our focus shifts to our internal guys and figuring out a plan of attack and the right combination for October. I feel confident we’ll get to a point where our ‘pen is additive to our pursuit of winning a championship.”

Friedman has clung tightly to top prospects previously -- Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler among them. He said this year, his target list was smaller, making a deal tougher to complete.

“Our focus at each Deadline is to be aggressive, and more often than not it resulted in an aggressive move,” Friedman said. “Today, it did not, but we had various conversations up to 1 o’clock, and feel we have a team and depth in place to win a championship.”

Short of an All-Star type like Vazquez, Friedman said the club’s priority was a lefty who can handle opposing left-handed hitters.

“Once you get past the big boys that had a chance to move, the area where we were most vulnerable was against a really good left-handed hitter,” he said.

Kolarek, 30, is 4-3 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 54 games this season as a situational lefty. The Dodgers are thin in that role after the season-ending injury to Cingrani and the indefinite absence of Scott Alexander, who has a left thumb nerve issue. They have had to rely on Julio Urias and Caleb Ferguson.

Friedman said the club will use the next two months to piece together an October-worthy bullpen. In addition to in-house relievers Jansen, Joe Kelly, Pedro Baez and Urias, Friedman said Minor Leaguers will be in the mix, presumably referring to May and Tony Gonsolin. Sources told MLB.com that May would be called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to make his Major League debut on Friday. The Dodgers didn't confirm the move.

“As far as the bullpen, as we spend time laying out what a prospective bullpen looks like in October, we feel good about the talent we have in-house,” he said. “Now it’s about syncing it up and [putting] it together in a way that it’s a real asset for us.”

Gyorko, 30, is healing from a series of injuries, most recently a lower back strain. He is eligible to be activated in a week, although it’s unclear if he’ll be ready before September. Gyorko has played only 38 games this year. In six-plus seasons, he has a .246 average, and he hit a career-high 30 home runs in 2016.

Gyorko’s salary this year is $13 million, with a 2020 option for $13 million or a $1 million buyout.

When healthy, Gyorko can play all around the infield, and he provides additional depth for a club with utility men David Freese, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez on the injured list indefinitely.

On Sunday night, the club obtained utility man Kristopher Negron from Seattle for Daniel Castro. Negron homered in his first Dodgers at-bat Tuesday, and he homered again in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the Rockies.

Abreu, 19, went 2-0 with a 4.66 ERA in six games (two starts) for the Rookie-level AZL Dodgers. The Dominican Republic native was in his second season with the organization and was a combined 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA.

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