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Dodgers deadline primer: Is top-end starter in the cards?

With Clayton Kershaw on the shelf indefinitely, the Dodgers could make a run at Chris Sale. AP

Should the Los Angeles Dodgers be buyers or sellers at the deadline?

Buyers.

Why?

Racked with injuries all season, the Dodgers have managed to stay competitive and an influx of talent could push them toward legitimate contention in the National League.

It all depends on the health of ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw, though, whose lower-back injury still is not expected to cost him the rest of the season. The Dodgers have managed to go 15-8 in Kershaw's absence, and in the process have become more of a complete team with a productive offense and a stingy bullpen.

The Dodgers haven't necessarily had that "wow" factor all season, but adding a No. 2-type starter behind a healthy Kershaw could raise their profile, especially if the offense continues to hit and the bullpen stays nasty.

Manager Dave Roberts is of the belief that the Dodgers' wildly horrible injury luck will right itself. "That's the plan, but we're not holding our breath," he said. Roberts still has not fielded the team he thought he would have when spring training started. If the Dodgers can get healthy on top of adding reinforcements they might be a team that can make a deep run.

Who should they buy/sell? Who should they keep?

There is no doubt the Dodgers will do all they can to land a No. 2 starter. And if they can somehow pry away Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox, it would be more like adding a co-ace alongside Kershaw. The White Sox do not appear to be in a hurry to deal away the face of their franchise, and it remains unknown if last weekend's rift, when Sale was suspended for cutting up throwback uniforms, would alter that.

Another option off the White Sox roster is Jose Quintana, an underrated and steady left-hander who could prove to be dynamic in the National League. The Dodgers also have been linked to Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Chris Archer, who has loads of talent but has underachieved this season. The relationship between the Dodgers and Rays front offices could facilitate a deal for Archer, but the Dodgers might wait on this until exhausting all possibilities with the White Sox.

If the White Sox or Rays decide to move a high-quality starter, top-flight prospects are likely to be preferred over current major-league talent. Yasiel Puig's name has been mentioned in Dodgers trade possibilities, but alone, he isn't likely to yield the kind of talent the Dodgers are looking for to bolster the roster.

Which prospects should they will be willing to move/which should be untouchable?

The Dodgers are now flooded with impressive young pitching on the cusp of being consistent performers on the major league level. They have no less than four impressive young starters in Ross Stripling, Julio Urias, Brock Stewart and Jose De Leon that could be rotation mainstays in the coming years. It is unlikely they will be able to keep all of them if they want to land a big fish like Sale or Quintana.

If the Dodgers have an untouchable in this group, it's Urias, who oozes upside and showed it during three major league stints this season, all at the tender young age of 19. Urias is poised, talented and has an impressive four-pitch mix that is a wonder for somebody at his young age.

De Leon could be the pitcher who gets a deal done as the highlight in a package of prospects. He is a step behind Urias in his development but is considered nearly as talented. Stripling has shown that he is ready to be a big league starter and Stewart, who also made his Dodgers debut this season, is close behind. Expect one of the four pitching prospects to be included in a package deal if the Dodgers add starting pitching by the deadline.