It’s been a strange week for many members of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lost a bit behind the massive Mookie Betts trade was the reported Joc Pederson trade to the Angels, which also included swingman pitcher Ross Stripling. Lo and behold, the Angels trade ended up falling through, and Pederson and Stripling are still Dodgers, despite believing they were on their way out of town just a few days ago.
Given how awkward that potential situation could be, you can bet that the Dodgers are still open to trading Pederson and Stripling. While Pederson isn’t of much interest to the Yankees right now, not with a possible outfield glut, but Stripling sure could be. A 30-year-old righty under team control until 2023, Stripling might be able to help the Yankees in a variety of ways if he’s indeed on the market.
Stripling just finished his fourth major league season, and he still doesn’t have a finite role, splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. Interestingly, he performed about the same as a starter and as a reliever, showing a level of comfort in both spots rare to most modern pitchers, who are creatures of habit. Instead, Stripling’s greatest trait is his versatility.
He’s also just a pretty good pitcher – Stripling has never had an ERA over 4.00 and only once posted a WHIP above 1.20, and even made an All-Star team in 2018. He’s about league-average at inducing swings and misses, and gets more groundballs than fly balls. There’s not much excitement to Stripling’s game, but there’s plenty of effectiveness. He’s just a solid foot soldier that every manager would love to have.
The Yankees might be in the market for a pitcher after announcing James Paxton’s injury. Might they kick the tires on Stripling? His ability to work as both a starter and a reliever would certainly intrigue the Yankees, who could even use him as an opener on certain days.
Here’s the problem though: I don’t see the Yankees and Dodgers matching up as trade partners that well. For one, these teams seem destined for a date in the World Series. Why would the Dodgers trade away a cheap, valuable, controllable commodity to the Yankees, who are arguably the biggest obstacle standing between them and a Commissioner’s Trophy? The fear of Stripling pitching against the Dodgers in October could override any potential trade.
Furthermore, the Yankees don’t really have much to offer that would interest the Dodgers. Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar are the team’s biggest trade chips, but the Dodgers don’t need another outfielder or a third baseman. They likely wouldn’t be willing to trade Stripling to the Yankees for solely prospects given their urgency to win now. That said, much like the Yankees, the Dodgers have a tight 40-man roster, so it’s at least technically possible LA would look into a trade that netted them prospects they wouldn’t need to protect on the 40-man.
Although Stripling might be on the block in an attempt to remedy an awkward situation, he can help a lot of teams. Unfortunately, this works against the Yankees. If the Dodgers truly want to trade Stripling, they can dump him on a team they’ll never see in the playoffs instead of empowering a prominent World Series foe. Stripling would be a great fit for the Yankees, but I’d have to consider it wishful thinking at this point.