Two sayings have pretty much guided me for most of my life:
“Without change, progress is impossible.”
“Change made for the sake of change is almost always as damaging as standing idly by.”
When you think about it, the two sayings fairly well summarize the Dodgers’ offseason. They shook up their immediate future in hopes to line themselves up for a 2018 free agent class that blows away anything away we’ve ever seen in terms of level of talent potentially available to sign anywhere.
On one hand, the Dodgers could easily have brought back Zack Greinke and contended at least for the next couple years in the same fashion they have recently behind him and Clayton Kershaw. The equation is good enough to almost guarantee a playoff spot, but ask any Dodgers fan, and they’ll tell you that isn’t enough.
In this case, the change (Greinke walking), while obviously not ideal, might be shakeup necessary to free up more fruitful spending for years to come. But was it change for the sake of change? The honest answer is we simply won’t know until we see how the contract plays out for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A better analogy for the second saying would be the signings if the Dodgers just started throwing money around as a brash reaction to Greinke’s departure. Yes, the Dodgers have resources to spend on just about anyone, but it would also preclude their activity down the road, when better bang for their buck is available.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports says the free agent class could change baseball, and it’s hard to argue.
The free agent Class of 2018, as it stands, is a collection of players so good it seems impossible one market could absorb them all at once. Both MVPs from this season, Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson, will hit free agency after the 2018 season. So can the greatest pitcher of this generation, Clayton Kershaw, along with the current American League Cy Young winner (Dallas Keuchel), two of the finest arms in the big leagues (Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey) and the pitcher who just signed the biggest-money contract ever for a pitcher (David Price).
Like Kershaw and Price, Jason Heyward in 2018 can opt out of the deal he agreed to Friday for $185 million. Don’t like him in the outfield? Andrew McCutchen and Adam Jones will be available. Prefer an infielder? Manny Machado will be there and, like Harper and Fernandez, will be just 26 years old. If Heyward gets multiple $200 million offers at 26, three years from now, with revenues growing by nearly $1 billion a year, Harper, Machado and Fernandez may get a billion combined themselves.
Okay, that’s just ridiculous. Those weren’t typos. Passan meant to spell billion with a “b”. And the crazy part: Passan continued listing names for three other paragraphs. It’s well-worth your time to study up. You can bet your bottom dollar Andrew Friedman and the rest of his team his.
As it stands right now, if Kershaw opts out of his contract (he will), the Dodgers will have just $3.5 million on the books. Again, not a typo. That would quickly change if they started handing out mega deals this offseason, though.
Change for the sake of change.
So, while it’s obviously frustrating to look at the team the Dodgers might field next season, and I completely understand that perspective, fans also have to understand how vital financial flexibility will be that winter.
Watching Grienke pitch for the Diamondbacks in those hideous new uniforms will undoubtedly suck. A long-term outlook built around the names Passan mentioned in his article, however, does not.