The Los Angeles Dodgers are a destination for Dylan Carlson
The St. Louis Cardinals appear to be at a crossroads with outfielder Dylan Carlson this off-season. Carlson was highly valued by both the front office and Cardinals fans alike entering the 2022 season, but after a down year that was plagued by injuries, and many misconceptions about his role in the Juan Soto trade saga, many fans seemed to sour on the 24-year old. Now it looks like the Los Angeles Dodgers want to capitalize on Carlson's availability.
In a recent story on The Athletic (subscription required), Ken Rosenthal addressed how the Dodgers will proceed the rest of this off-season, and one of their next moves appears to be acquiring a young center fielder.
"In the meantime, the Dodgers are actively pursuing trades for a center fielder. Taylor, James Outman, Trayce Thompson are their current options to replace Cody Bellinger, the worst-hitting center fielder in the majors the past two seasons. The Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds, Diamondbacks’ Alek Thomas, Cardinals’ Dylan Carlson and Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic are among the trade possibilities, and all fit the Dodgers’ need for a left-handed or switch-hitter. Carlson could be the Cardinals’ odd man out with Lars Nootbaar a viable option in center, and Jordan Walker and Alec Burleson nearly ready to join the team’s outfield."- Ken Rosenthal, The Athletic
A couple of thoughts on the report before diving into why this could happen. First, Ken Rosenthal is a widely respected insider, and in a situation like this, appears to be linking names to the Dodgers due to a mixture of their own interest in those players, and the availablity of those players. Each one of those outfielders appears to be available this off-season, and it's likely that Los Angeles is checking in on each of them if Rosenthal is reporting this.
Second, the Dodgers interest in Carslon make a lot of sense. Rosenthal pointed out in this piece that the Dodgers are being careful of their spending this off-season for three different reasons. First, they may still be on the hook for Trevor Bauer's contract, which would cost them millions of dollars in tax penalties. Second, Julio Urias is set to hit free agency next off-season, so they are being careful how they spend so they can retain him. Third, and what looms largest, is keeping payroll flexiblity to make a major run at Shohei Ohtani after the 2023 season.
All of these combine to make Carlson an interesting target due to him being cost controlled through the 2026 season. Carlson still has a ton of upside an already has proven immense value defensively, making him a prime target for the Dodgers centerfield hole.
The Pirates want a fortune for Bryan Reynolds, like a "Soto package" level of return. Jarred Kelenic is more of a corner outfielder but still could be a fit for the Dodgers. Alek Thomas would be a within division trade, and I am not sure that Arizona would be interested in giving a promising outfielder to their division rival.
Carlson was made available to the Athletics during the Sean Murphy negotiations, so it's clear they are not opposed to trading the young outfielder. Could starting pitchers like Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin be available in a trade? Maybe a swap of young big leaguers in the form of Gavin Lux? Maybe a Will Smith trade is an option, where the Dodgers create space for top prospect Diego Cartaya and the Cardinals get an elite catcher/DH platoon in Smith and Willson Contreras?
Keep an eye out for this scenario. Our own Jason Martin made the case today why the Cardinals need to hold onto Carlson, so it remains to be seen what the club will do with him. We'll be posting some potential trade packages in the next few days for a Carlson-Dodgers trade.