There are tons of rumors heating up the Hot Stove this off-season, but still, heading into December, there is still no movement for any major trades or free agent signings. Fresh off a season where we came one win away from the promised land of a World Series title, the Dodgers return almost everyone from the 2017 roster. However, that isn’t to say there aren’t moves that should be made, or could be made to improve the team going into 2018. Here is a list of moves and signings that need to happen.
1) Sign Shohei Ohtani for $300k
This one is pretty straightforward. Signing the sensation from Japan would bring versatility and talent to the Dodgers at a pretty inexpensive cost. Since the Dodgers would be limited to offering a maximum $300,000 signing bonus (per international signing rules) adding Ohtani wouldn’t affect our payroll at all. Additionally, since the most any other team can offer is a little more than $3 million, money isn’t a factor for nabbing Ohtani. It appears he cares more about the intangibles for a club. That and recent reports are really indicating he is highly preferential to the West Coast. Pretty much every non-West Coast team, except the Rangers and Cubs are out of the running.
Sources: Shohei Ohtani is done interviewing the seven finalists to sign him. His last meeting was actually Tuesday night with the San Diego Padres. Next, presumably, will be his decision. Timetable is not clear yet, but it could well be soon.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 6, 2017
2) Re-Sign Brandon Morrow to a 2-year, $15 million deal, with a 3rd year mutual option for $8 million. If not, sign Anthony Swarzak to a 2-year, $14 million deal.
Brandon Morrow was a revelation for us out of the bullpen last year. We got an enormous bang for our buck for someone we added for a mere minor-league $500k deal. He set-up for Kenley Jansen almost the entire season, and pitched a ton in the playoffs for us. Keeping him would be great, but there is a good chance he could leave because if we don’t meet his three or four year guaranteed deal expectations.
If we cannot land him for the above contract, then going after someone like Anthony Swarzak (2.33 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9) would be a solid fallback option. He isn’t getting nearly as much attention as other reliever names on the market this year (i.e. Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Addison Reed), and will not cost more than two to three years and $5-7 million per season.
3) Trade some dead weight money.
It’s no secret the Dodgers in the last five years have been willing to take on extra dead weight money, or trade bad contracts, in order to facilitate getting solid players/prospects (i.e. the trade that brought Alex Wood, the Grandal-Kemp trade, the trade with the Marlins involving Dee Gordon, Kike Hernandez and Austin Barnes). But there are a few contracts we could try shopping to shed some salary for 2018 before seeing around $60 million coming off the books for 2019. Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir are two pitchers we could try to get some salary relief from by trading them away for something, anything. McCarthy actually has some trade value, and could be used in a trade for Stanton to alleviate some of Stanton’s 2018 salary.
Kazmir is more of a tough sell. Not especially effective when healthy, and wasn’t healthy in 2017. With $8 million owed to him, it may be tough to get some team to bite on him. Unless we take on a bad contract in return (unlikely), we probably won’t be able to shop him. But hey, it’s worth a try, right?
4) Trade for Giancarlo Stanton.
The reason trading for Giancarlo Stanton falls last instead of first or second on this list is simple: his contract. It is very well known that the Dodgers are trying desperately to reset that luxury tax clock for the upcoming free agent class of 2018. There are a number of excellent OF options in that class, as well as the likely chance Clayton Kershaw opts out – though I can’t imagine he signs anywhere else. More likely Kershaw will get a modest $3-5 million average annual salary boost, and a multi-year (five to seven years) extension from the Dodgers. Either way, money is surprisingly an issue this offseason for the Boys in Blue.
Because of this trading for Stanton and the $295 million remaining on his contract is a sticking point. Rumors indicate that the Giants are willing to part with up to four of their top five prospects, and would have the Marlins eat just $50 million of that contract. Now, the Giants have a much lower ranked system than the Dodgers, and only Christian Arroyo cracks many top 100 prospect lists (and he has been rumored to not be included), so the Dodgers wouldn’t need to empty the coffers nearly as much to match, or best, the Giants’ offer.
Do not under estimate the #Dodgers in regards to Giancarlo Stanton. If they decide they want him…they can beat the Giants deal and with creativity still stay below luxury tax. If Stanton holds out he’ll get his first choice which is LaLa land. Decision should be done by Sun.
— Jim Bowden?? (@Jim_BowdenSXM) December 6, 2017
Plus the Dodgers have the luxury of an excess of starting pitchers. Including Brandon McCarthy in a trade could off-set some of Stanton’s 2018 salary, and entice the Marlins with a stopgap pitcher to bridge 2018 to the future for them, at essentially no extra cost. One thing is certain, trading for Stanton, on top of the other things above, would be the icing on the cake! He’d slide perfectly into the 4-spot in our lineup and easily make ours the most potent going in to 2018 and beyond.
If any of these things above happen, Dodger fans would be ecstatic, and hopefully multiples of these things can transpire. There is a lot that would have to fall in place for more than one of these things to occur, however, given the ability of this front office to get creative and the added hunger of Dodger fans after coming within one win of that glorious World Series title, it would not be at all surprising to see it happen. December could be a month to remember!