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3 trades Dodgers should consider instead of signing Harper

The Los Angeles Dodgers were involved in a seven-player trade on Friday, shipping Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey and prospects.

In the process, the Dodgers freed up money, causing some to speculate the club could use that extra cash to pursue Bryce Harper.

But L.A. is trying to remain under the luxury tax until 2022, is reportedly reluctant to give Harper a long-term deal, and remains focused on making its lefty-heavy lineup more balanced, so another trade might be the answer.

Here are three players the Dodgers may want to make a deal for instead of handing a historic contract to free agency’s golden boy.

J.T. Realmuto

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The Dodgers are rather thin at catcher, and while re-signing Yasmani Grandal may still be in the cards, baseball’s best backstop is available.

Realmuto was the 25th-most valuable player in baseball by fWAR last season (highest among MLB catchers) and isn’t expected to begin 2019 with the Miami Marlins, according to his agent.

Trade discussions for Realmuto have cooled since the winter meetings, but Los Angeles’ front office would consider moving at least two of its top prospects in Keibert Ruiz, Will Smith, or Dustin May in a trade for Realmuto, according to a report.

Nicholas Castellanos

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Following Friday’s blockbuster, the Dodgers acknowledged to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports that they’re “badly in need” of a right-handed bat.

The club’s predominantly left-handed lineup has led to its reported interest in Detroit Tigers outfielder Castellanos.

Los Angeles’ packed outfield might make it difficult to accommodate Castellanos, but Cody Bellinger, Enrique Hernandez, and Chris Taylor can play a number of positions around the diamond, and Castellanos could also spell Justin Turner at third if needed.

The 26-year-old Tigers slugger posted career highs in hits (185), doubles (46), and OPS (.854) last season, and was more effective at the plate than Realmuto, Nolan Arenado, and Giancarlo Stanton based on Fangraphs’ offense metric.

Corey Kluber

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The Dodgers’ starting pitching is already very good. Their 3.19 ERA was tops in the NL last season and a full year of Walker Buehler should only help matters.

However, two consecutive World Series losses and walk years approaching for both Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu might be enough for the Dodgers to beef up their rotation by adding two-time Cy Young winner Kluber, who is under club control for three seasons.

Since 2014, no pitcher has accrued more fWAR than Kluber’s 31.

Los Angeles has reportedly been involved in discussions for more than a month with the Cleveland Indians about Kluber, and they apparently re-engaged them about a potential deal following the recent blockbuster.

Cleveland is motivated to move Kluber, and a chance to acquire highly touted outfield prospect Alex Verdugo – who the Dodgers are willing to trade in a potential swap – might be enough for them to pull the trigger on a deal.

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