By Jon Weisman
Pitching prospect Julio Urias turned 19 today, 19 and still a Dodger, 12 days after the MLB non-waiver trade deadline.
Among other things, the occasion made me wonder whom a 19-year-old Clayton Kershaw might have been traded for, back in 2007.
The Dodgers were very much a contender in the summer of 2007. Coming off their 2006 wild-card season, Los Angeles was in first place as late as July 29, and only a game behind Arizona at the July 31 deadline.
The biggest move made at the end of July 2007 was Atlanta’s acquisition of first baseman Mark Texeira and reliever Ron Mahay from the Rangers for a rather interesting package that included catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus and pitchers Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison. Saltalamacchia (No. 36), Andrus (No. 65) and Harrison (No. 90) were all top-100 prospects entering the 2007 season, while Feliz would enter the top 100 the following season.
How could the Dodgers have matched or topped that package? How about with Andy LaRoche (No. 19), Kershaw (No. 24) and Scott Elbert (No. 31)?
And there’s the rub. Two of those players, though full of promise, you wouldn’t have ended up missing. But one of them, you would have missed beyond comprehension. For a World Series title, you can say it would have been worth it, but without that title? It’s scary to even think about. The stakes were, and are, incredibly high.
This piece is not meant to imply that the Dodgers’ title hopes live or die with the fate of Julio Urias, but only to remind that few outcomes are obvious without hindsight. Not trying to start a fight or end one here.
I don’t know if there were other deals to be made or not, nor does it really matter.
So what actually happened in the end in 2007? It was Colorado, of all teams, a mere 54-51 on July 31, that would zoom out of fourth place in the final two months to reach the World Series. And whom did the Rockies acquire at the trade deadline? None other than Dan Serafini, who pitched one-third of an inning and allowed two runs, for a 54.00 ERA.