L.A. Dodgers 2012: To trade or not to trade, that is the question

Carlos Quentin would look good shaking hands in blue and white after a Chavez Ravine home run. (Jake Roth/US Presswire)

It’s good to be a Los Angeles Dodgers fan right now!

The Dodgers have lost their best player (Matt Kemp) for almost a month, as well as  their starting second baseman (Mark Ellis), their starting third baseman (Juan Uribe) and one of their best starting pitchers (Ted Lilly) to various injuries.

However, even with all of these challenges, the Dodgers still sport the best record in all of Major League Baseball and lead the San Francisco Midgets by five games in the National League West.

Another reason why it’s good to bleed Dodger blue? Because with the July 31 trade deadline approaching, the Dodgers are in the heat of multiple rumors to add a key player to a 2012 title run.

The Dodgers’ new ownership group is committed to investing in the team this season. How much fun is it for fans to get caught up in the latest MLB trade rumors involving their favorite team in Los Angeles?

The three biggest targets linked to the Dodgers are Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox, Carlos Quentin of the San Diego Padres and Cuban defector Jorge Soler.

Which player should the Dodgers pursue? That question should have a qualifier before being answered. If the Dodgers are looking to win in 2012, then the target should be either Youkilis or Quentin. If the focus is on the future, then Soler’s the man.

Here is a look at each of these players:

Quentin – If I’m Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, I’m pursuing Quentin first and foremost. Quentin is still in his prime at only 29 years of age. He started the season on the disabled list for the Padres, but Quentin has since hit five homers and has driven in nine runs in only nine games.
Quentin’s career season averages are 33 homers, 102 RBIs and a .255 average. If he can stay healthy, Quentin is a huge left-field upgrade over anyone the Dodgers have penciled in the lineup this season. Juan Rivera, Bobby Abreu, Jerry Sands and Tony Gwynn have filled in, pitched in and have done an admirable job, but the Dodgers need a serious bat in left field to help Andre Ethier and the absence of Kemp.

Youkilis – Youkilis can play third base or first, but is really better at first at this stage of his career. The 33-year-old Youkilis has battled injuries and has watched his power numbers steadily decline each year since 2008.

In 2008, Youkilis hit 29 homers. That number then dropped to 27 the next year, 19 in 2010 and to 17 in 2011. Youkilis is a career .287 hitter, but he has struck out at least 100 times in five of the past six seasons. After battling injuries this season, Youkilis has hit four homers, driven in 13 runs and has a .231 average in 34 games. Youkilis would still be an upgrade over the third-base platoon that the Dodgers have been stuck with for most of the 2012 season, but he wouldn’t be a big impact bat like Quentin.

Soler – If the Dodgers want help in 2014 and beyond, then Soler should be their guy. I would love to see the team go after Quentin and Soler, and with the financial resources of the new owners, why not? Soler is a 20-year-old who seemingly has a very bright baseball future.

The 6′-3″ Soler is projected as a corner outfielder who has above-average power and a gun for an arm. Baseball America’s Jim Callis says that if Soler had been in the 2010 MLB Draft, he would have been a top-five pick in the same group as Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals.

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