The Chris Archer, Matt Moore and Chris Sale rumors were revived Sunday. Some reports had the Dodgers making a run at catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Jay Bruce not starting for the Reds fit the narrative that he is destined to replace Yasiel Puig in right field, where Puig finally started Sunday for the Dodgers after a week off. The absence from Double-A Tulsa's lineup of Dodgers hitting prospects Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo stoked deal speculation.
Roberts, then, had no easy task as sole spokesman for an organization secretive about its intentions. He walked that fine line with references to current roster depth that has allowed the Dodgers to withstand 22 disabled list injuries while slicing the deficit behind the Giants from eight games to two, going into Sunday.
"I think our club is as balanced as any club in all of baseball," he said. "You can always improve, but there's really no one area bigger than the other for me. Our guys work to try to better our ballclub, something could potentially happen, it might not. There's a lot of expectations, but we're focused on the guys in the clubhouse to win a game and until that changes, that can be our only focus."
Pressed further about starting pitching because of the injury to Clayton Kershaw, he said the need must be balanced by the cost.
"You've got to weigh what you have to give up for a starter," he said. "To get something special like the couple names everyone's talked about, you've got to give up something really, really special. It's got to make sense. Our guys are very bright and are doing everything they can to help this club now and going forward."
Roberts said he reacted to his 2004 trade from the Dodgers to the Red Sox "with tears," although he ended up with a World Series ring and a place in Boston lore for one of the most famous stolen bases in history. Now he's on management's side, charged with keeping players on track while speculation swirls and other clubs make bold moves.
"It's been a message from me to the players from Spring Training as far as eliminating the noise," he said. "In a Major League Baseball season, this Trade Deadline is toward the top as far as external noise and potential. As a manager, it's my job is to keep guys focused on winning games. To focus on what could and couldn't happen doesn't help the situation.
"Our guys have asked my opinion and the coaches, and I'm sure they've asked the players, because they've competed against the guys. They are very process driven and do the homework and diligence. A lot of names have been thrown out there. We're turning over every stone."