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Dodgers GM: Betts and Yamamoto injuries shouldn’t affect trade deadline plans

Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes speaks during a news conference.
Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes speaks during a news conference in 2022.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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In the wake of the weekend’s injuries to Mookie Betts and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, there was still plenty Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes was uncertain of Monday afternoon.

Things such as precisely when either player might be back, how soon they’ll begin progressing in their recoveries, or how much they could be affected by any potential lingering effects.

There was one thing, however, that Gomes seemed relatively confident of as he walked off the field after the team’s pregame batting practice.

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For now, he said, the Dodgers aren’t yet scrambling to alter their trade deadline plans — at least, with Betts (hand fracture) and Yamamoto (rotator cuff strain) still expected to return this season — in any major way.

“I actually don’t think it meaningfully changes anything at this point,” Gomes said, with one caveat: “With the expectation that those guys are gonna be back for the postseason.”

That sentiment illustrated the kind of no-panic attitude that was pervasive around the Dodgers on Monday, even with two of their star players sidelined for the foreseeable future.

The Dodgers are expecting Betts to sit out roughly six to eight weeks, manager Dave Roberts said, though that timeline could change depending on how well Betts’ hand recovers from the 98-mph fastball he was plunked by Sunday.

Roberts compared the injury to the broken hand former Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager suffered in mid-May of the 2021 season on a similar hit-by-pitch, one that sidelined Seager for 65 games before he returned in late July.

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Betts visited a hand specialist Monday, where he was fitted with a splint.

“We gotta let the fracture heal,” Gomes said, “and then go from there.”

Yamamoto’s timeline is much less certain, with Gomes saying it’s “way too early to know” to know how well, or how quickly, the right-hander will recover from the shoulder strain that knocked him out of a start after only two innings Saturday.

For now, Roberts said Yamamoto probably would not throw for at least two weeks. In the meantime, he’ll do arm exercises and gauge how the injury feels.

“We have to take the small chunks first,” Gomes said, “before we start pushing out to the throwing progression.”

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Los Angeles, CA, Saturday, June 1, 2024 - Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

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Dodgers shortstop Mookie Betts leaps over Rangers baserunner Adolis Garcia while turning a double play on June 13.

1. Dodgers pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitches against the Colorado Rockies on June 1. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times) 2. Dodgers shortstop Mookie Betts leaps over Rangers baserunner Adolis Garcia while turning a double play on June 17. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Still, in the long-term, the Dodgers continued to express confidence that both Betts (who was having an MVP-caliber season as their starting shortstop) and Yamamoto (the $325 million offseason signing who was leading the rotation with a 2.92 ERA before getting hurt) will be key factors in their postseason plans.

That’s why, when Gomes was asked if their injuries this weekend have affected the Dodgers’ trade deadline outlook, the general manager shook his head.

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“I don’t think it does at this point,” he said, adding, “It’s continuing to evaluate where we are in the division and what it looks like as far as just accumulating wins.”

To that end, the Dodgers are safe.

They entered Monday with an eight-game lead in the National League West. They still have a potent lineup and plenty of regular-season pitching depth. They should still reach the playoffs with ease, and probably as a top-two seed with a bye to the NL Division Series.

The trade deadline, however, will present their last true chance to acquire some roster insurance — for both the rotation, in case Yamamoto either doesn’t come back or struggles to regain form, and the infield, where Betts’ future at shortstop looks increasingly unclear.

For now, the Dodgers haven’t decided where Betts will play upon his return. Miguel Rojas will take over as the primary shortstop in Betts’ absence, set to start in three of four games in Denver this week. Kiké Hernández will back Rojas up, in addition to regular starts at third base and the outfield.

Designated hitter Shohei Ohtani went three for four with an RBI and a walk in the leadoff spot to lead the Dodgers to a 9-5 win over the Colorado Rockies.

June 17, 2024

Neither Gomes nor Roberts eliminated the possibility of Betts returning to shortstop, where he had made impressive progress this year despite below-league-average defensive metrics. Both noted that Betts would still be able to work on his running and throwing while hurt (he sustained the injury to his glove hand), ensuring he doesn’t lose all the progress he has made in his daily pregame infield drills.

Even if the Dodgers do eventually move Betts back to second base or the outfield, though, finding an upgrade over Rojas on the trade market won’t be easy. Unless the first-place Milwaukee Brewers shop starting shortstop (and pending free agent) Willy Adames, or the middling Toronto Blue Jays opt for a fire sale including Bo Bichette, few quality everyday shortstops could be options via trade.

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Rojas has limitations — including a recent history of nagging ailments that have limited his playing time over the last couple of seasons. But for now, the Dodgers seem nonetheless content with him as their fall-back plan, particularly given his productive .278 batting average entering play Monday.

Trading for a pitcher might be more of a consideration, but probably only if the Dodgers can find a quality arm to bolster the top of their rotation.

Like the shortstop market, the list of available impact pitchers will also be short — and expensive.

Garrett Crochet of the Chicago White Sox and Jesús Luzardo of the Miami Marlins are the two biggest potential names, though they have multiple years of team control remaining, which will drive up the price of the return their teams could demand.

Whether the Dodgers can be as good as they were before injuries hit Mookie Betts and Yoshinobu Yamamoto last weekend against Kansas City, only time will tell.

June 17, 2024

Other productive veterans could be dealt, such as Jack Flaherty of the Detroit Tigers, Luis Severino of the New York Mets and ex-Dodger Tyler Anderson, who is with the Angels.

But, again, the Dodgers have plenty of depth between talented youngsters such as Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller, and veterans Walker Buehler, James Paxton and Clayton Kershaw (when he returns from offseason shoulder surgery).

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What they’ll need more is someone of Yamamoto’s caliber, capable of dominating a playoff game.

And, while the search for such reinforcements will commence in the coming weeks, the lack of tantalizing options will be a factor in the Dodgers’ decision-making process — one that, for now at least, the injuries to Betts and Yamamoto aren’t drastically changing.

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