INJURY NEWS: Mookie Betts 2 key player suffered carer ending injury……

These are 16 players the Dodgers could target now that Mookie Betts is out.
This weekend’s two heartbreaking losses to the roster eclipsed the Dodgers’ two victories on the field as the most expensive pitcher in baseball and the front-runner for National League MVP both sustained serious injuries on back-to-back days.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto threw two innings on Saturday before leaving due to a strained rotator cuff. After a day, a 98 mph fastball that went too far inside broke Mookie Betts’ left hand, leaving him writhing on the ground in excruciating pain.

Because both players were in the process of trying something new, the injuries will put $690 million worth of commitments on the shelf for an extended period of time, making it an even more dangerous reality. 25, Yamamoto, was picking up pitching skills in the US. After a distinguished big-league career, Betts, 31, was learning how to play shortstop for the first time.

With each inning played, the Dodgers were also gaining knowledge. October is the focus of everything they do right now.
Positively, part of the sting is lessened by the timing. Manager Dave Roberts attempted to project optimism for the future of his top-place team by saying that neither injury is expected to require surgery or end the season.

Roberts said, “We’re going to be alright.” “We have to move on; we have really good players.”

Even so, the injuries raise concerns for the Dodgers, who just spent over $1 billion this offseason to restructure their roster following two heartbreaking first-round losses and hope to win their first World Series since the postponed 2020 campaign: Is Yamamoto going to be able to get past this shoulder injury in time for the Dodgers to start him in the postseason? Can Betts, who was putting in a lot of work in the pregame every night to prepare for the demands of shortstop, continue to get enough practice at the position so the Dodgers will feel comfortable giving him the starting job for the duration of the postseason?

Though they have more options on the mound, it’s unlikely that they’ll have the answers before the trade deadline. With Clayton Kershaw starting a rehab assignment this week and Bobby Miller scheduled to make his comeback to action, more pitching depth is anticipated soon. Before making a deal, the Dodgers might want to see what their returning pitchers have left in them.

Before Betts returns to action, the Dodgers will need to decide on a shortstop.

Roberts stated that Betts, who saw a hand specialist on Monday, would probably be out for six to eight weeks. If everything goes according to plan, Betts should have enough time to acclimate to shortstop before the postseason if the Dodgers decide to keep him there. The current NL leader in wins above replacement is unlikely to suit up for the Dodgers until just before or after the deadline, based on the timeline.

The Dodgers’ offensive depth was seriously questioned, even with Betts fully recovered. The fact that Max Muncy is not even close to returning from an oblique injury makes his absence at the top of the lineup even more painful.

Nevertheless, the Dodgers should be reasonably satisfied with their eight-game lead in the NL West, especially with Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, and Teoscar Hernández leading the way. However, as they have done eleven times in the previous twelve seasons, winning the division is not the goal this year.

Everything less than a championship would be considered a failure after acquiring Ohtani this winter. That ought to require taking action before the deadline.

But there aren’t many options available right now, either internally or in terms of trade.

In the near future, how will the Dodgers respond to Betts’ loss?

Kiké Hernández will also see action at shortstop, with Miguel Rojas likely to see the most of the time in that position. Though he has hit below league average in his 11-year career, Rojas is a plus defender who has a 119 OPS+ in limited action this season—his highest total since the shortened 2020 season.

When they signed him last year, the Dodgers saw him as a utility and backup option, but they don’t have many other options. Gavin Lux was supposed to play first base at the beginning of the season, but he was moved to second base due to defensive concerns this spring and has had a terrible season. 542 OPS during his debut campaign

Furthermore, there are no elite prospects for the Dodgers to choose from at the position. Trey Sweeney, who was acquired from the Yankees this offseason, is the main option at Triple-A, although his.746 OPS at Oklahoma City is not impressive. Austin Gauthier, a 25-year-old who has experience playing shortstop and other positions across the diamond and is batting.278/.421/.424 between Double-A and Triple-A, is another possible choice.

Miguel Vargas will be called back up by the Dodgers to play left field against left-handed pitching in order to adjust for the time being. Ohtani is expected to move from the No. 2 spot in the lineup to leadoff, according to Roberts’ initial assessment.

Willy Adames was the name to watch as the premier shortstop in a walk year, but Milwaukee is in first place and Adames’ success in a bounce-back year makes a trade with the Brewers highly unlikely.

The Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette (1) and the White Sox’s Paul DeJong (2) are among the most intriguing potential options for a willing buyer, though neither is a slam-dunk match.

Bichette, a 26-year-old two-time All-Star who led the league in hits in 2021 and 2022, offers the most upside and star power. Prior to this year, he hit .290 or better with an OPS+ of 121 or better in each of his first five big-league seasons. But this season has been a disaster at the plate. Among shortstops with at least 200 plate appearances this season, only Orlando Arcia has a lower wRC+.

In addition, Bichette isn’t a free agent until 2026, so the cost will be higher to obtain him — that is, if the Blue Jays even decide to make him available. At one game under .500, they might not commit to selling anytime soon.

That wouldn’t be a problem for DeJong’s employer.

As a cheap rental for the worst team in baseball, obtaining him from the White Sox wouldn’t cost nearly as much as Bichette. Then again, though DeJong is hitting the ball harder than ever before and sports a .768 OPS — his best tally since his rookie year in 2017 — he also ranks in baseball’s bottom 7% in strikeout, walk and whiff rates. DeJong averaged an 86 OPS+ from 2018 to 2023, a number almost identical to Rojas’ career mark.

Would the Dodgers consider that a big enough upgrade to make a move?

It might be worth a call to the Rays to check in on José Caballero (3), who has a .775 OPS against lefties and offers an element of speed the Dodgers’ current options lack, or the Rangers to ask about Josh Smith (4), who doesn’t have a clear starting role in Texas when everyone’s healthy. Smith leads the Rangers with an .820 OPS and can play all over the infield, making him a useful upgrade as a utility option once Betts returns.

Boston rookie David Hamilton (5), who has a .786 OPS while filling in as the primary shortstop with Trevor Story out for the year, falls into a similar category and could be expendable if top prospect Marcelo Mayer gets called up before season’s end. Pirates rookie Nick Gonzales (6) also offers positional versatility and has been raking since his call-up in May.

However, all four of those players are under team control far beyond this year and play for teams still trying to compete. Recent history would suggest the Dodgers might wait until closer to the deadline, when more teams will present themselves as sellers.

In all likelihood, the Dodgers’ sizable lead in the division will afford them the luxury to play it out a bit before paying a premium at the position.

Let’s remember that the Dodgers’ trades for Yu Darvish in 2017, Manny Machado in 2018 and Max Scherzer and Trea Turner in 2021 all occurred close to the deadline at the middle or end of July.

What else could they do? 

Whatever move the Dodgers make, they could use a player who’s more than a stopgap — someone who will still be useful in October once Betts returns.

If they expand their search to all middle infield help, that opens the door for second base options such as the Angels’ Luis Rengifo, the Rays’ Brandon Lowe, the Reds’ Jonathan India or the Rockies’ Ryan McMahon (7-10) to step in as potentially greater impact players than the shortstop market can provide.

The other choice is to leave the middle infield as is and upgrade the offense elsewhere. Even before Betts got hurt, the Dodgers needed lineup depth and an impact outfielder. Swinging a blockbuster deal for Luis Robert Jr. (11) would ease the offensive burden on a lineup missing Betts and would help the Dodgers long after their star shortstop returns.

The outfield market presents a lot more possibilities across the board, presenting options from teams out of contention (such as the Angels’ Taylor Ward or the White Sox’s Tommy Pham, 12-13), teams somewhere in the middle (such as the Nationals’ Lane Thomas and Jesse Winker, 14-15) and contenders who might be willing to part with excess (such as the Orioles’ Cedric Mullins, 16).

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