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Plaschke: Dodgers blow, Padres win at trade deadline

It was trade deadline day, otherwise known as Andrew Friedman Appreciation Day, a usually bustling day with the noise of traffic jams and back slapping.

Still, for a Dodgers organization that typically handles every out-of-the-park deal, Tuesday was filled with a strange and lonely sound.

It was the sound of a strikeout.

This time, Goliath didn’t loot. This time the rich did not get richer. This time the mighty Dodgers got, well, Padre’d.

Is it a word? It should be.

By being outbid by their San Diego neighbors for the tall, young Juan Soto, the Dodgers got Padre’d.

By failing to acquire a capable arm beyond middle reliever Chris Martin while their San Diego buddies traded for baseball’s best closer in Josh Hader, the Dodgers got Padre’d.

Acquiring another undersea hitter in Joey Gallo while their friends in San Diego added Josh Bell to the regular swing, the Dodgers got Padre’d.

No, the Dodgers aren’t going to blow their double-digit National League West lead to this second-place team in the funny uniforms. The Dodgers have the highest-ranked pitching staff in baseball and the second-ranked offense. They don’t bend. Yes, the Dodgers can still win the World Series with their current roster, and probably should.

But make no mistake, this trade opens a three-year window on the Padres’ championship hopes, with 23-year-old Soto being under the club’s control for three pennant races. At the same time, it closes the window slightly on a Dodgers team that this winter will get a little older, a little grittier and could lose one of its co-MVPs, Trea Turner, to free agency.

What if… come October… the Padres survive the new wildcard round and somehow meet the Dodgers in the Division or League Championship Series? What if they were playing a win-win game?

The Dodgers will be led by their global foursome of Mookie Betts, Turner, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith. But the Padres can now counter with a quartet of Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Soto and Bell.

The Dodgers have the starting pitcher advantage, but not by much, especially considering their Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw is shaky, their ace Walker Buehler is injured, their fan favorite Julio Urías is inconsistent and their mouths -hole Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson are unproven in the playoffs.

The Dodgers might then have to close with a rickety Craig Kimbrel, while the Padres will finish with the Heat from Hader.

In a series of a game, who do you have?

Don’t answer that.

“They’ve improved their team over the past two days and we’re looking forward to this competition,” Dodgers baseball boss Friedman said of the Padres on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

The idea that these Padres were even in the Dodgers’ league was unthinkable just days ago, but their general manager, AJ Preller, emptied his pockets for the Nationals to get Soto and apparently outbid a wealthy organization and depth that should never be outdone. by anyone for anything.

Juan Soto celebrates with Josh Bell after his solo home run against the New York Mets.

Juan Soto, right, celebrates with Josh Bell after his solo home run against the New York Mets on Monday in Washington.

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Friedman usually owns this day, remember? Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Max Scherzer and Turner, remember? And then there was the offseason trade for Betts.

Does any casual fan remember all the prospects traded against these players? History will show that it’s almost always worth trading kids for superstars. In Soto’s case, he’s part kid and part superstar, a unicorn of a player who was traded only because he wasn’t going to accept the Nationals’ 15-year-old rebuilding contract offer at $440 million.

Soto was a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition, and while the Dodgers didn’t exactly need him, they certainly didn’t need him to go to one of their division rivals.

It’s perhaps the biggest bet of Friedman’s illustrious career here that this could have happened.

“Our track record suggests that obviously we would have been aggressive in trying to figure something out,” Friedman said.

But he admitted that with the team playing so well, his past willingness to give up his best hopes was somewhat dampened.

“We feel really good about the team we have in place,” he said, later adding, “We have a really special dynamic in this room at the moment, it’s something we’re really into. aware.”

Understood. But if they weren’t going to chase Soto with their elite prospects like catcher Diego Cartaya, pitcher Bobby Miller and third baseman Miguel Vargas — who just got brought up to the big leagues on Tuesday — then why not didn’t they go somewhere else for a deep tee shot? Why not make a serious run for Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo, who ended up with the Seattle Mariners? Or bring home Frankie Montas, who became a New York Yankee?

Friedman thinks they’ll add plenty of throws when several strong arms return over the next six weeks from injury to join newly active Andrew Heaney. He’s talking about people like Dustin May, Blake Treinen, and maybe even Longshot Buehler.

“With an arm combination, we can potentially come back…it was about having a high bar,” he said. “We were really excited about the potential of what our pitching team could look like in October.”

It is however another bet, in particular with the rotation. Over the next couple of months, the issues at the back of the bullpen can be resolved with multiple rotary relievers, but the issue at the front of the rotation remains unclear.

“I’m happy with the team we have in place and how they performed,” Friedman said. “If we’re acutely needed, you’ll see us being more on the tilt. I feel good about how aggressive we were.

But were they aggressive enough? The answer will come in October. The Padres will wait.

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