Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen and Rich Hill are either officially back or imminent. The Dodgers now shift their attention to right-handed second basemen, according to one report.
In Ken Rosenthal’s latest column, he confirms the Dodgers are still hot after a second base upgrade.
“At second, the Dodgers probably would have re-signed Chase Utley already if he batted right-handed — they like and value him. Utley still could prove their answer, but first they will continue to explore trades for right-handed hitters such as the Twins’ Brian Dozier, Tigers’ Ian Kinsler and Rays’ Logan Forsythe.”
There are a couple things to digest here. For one, Rosenthal gives further reassurance the Dodgers are open to re-signing Utley. At this point, he’s a last resort or utility option, as the team is examining bigger fish. But bringing back Utley in a bench capacity could be a plus for the club’s depth and morale (keep in mind Utley was well-received by his teammates).
The trio Rosenthal examples are familiar names. All have previously been linked to L.A. All would be upgrades over last season’s situation. All will cost prospect compensation.
Dozier might be the fan favorite right now. He’s signed for $15 million total over the next two seasons, a contract that was significantly below market the moment he agreed to it. Dozier logged a career-best season, but it may be more an outlier than a projection for 2017. While Dozier is the cheapest financial option, he might be the most expensive in prospects, as the Twins have no reason to sell short. Minnesota is intrigued by the Dodgers’ Brock Stewart, per one report.
Kinsler is the most consistent, trustworthy player of the group. The 35-year-old is signed through 2017 with a $10 million club option for 2018. Kinsler reportedly won’t waive his no trade clause without an extension, which complicates a deal with L.A. The Dodgers already have $92 million on the books during the colossal 2018 free agency class. Clayton Kershaw will need an extension, and young pups such as Corey Seager will need contracts or raises through arbitration. As always, it will depend on prospect and monetary price, but there are enough factors at play to make a Kinsler-Dodgers pairing unlikely.
Forsythe has a 2018 club option for $9 million, which while a steal for the Dodgers, is still affordable for the Tampa Bay Rays. Andrew Friedman already traded for Forsythe once when he was running the Rays, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise he’d look that way again. Since 2015, Forsythe is ninth in fWAR (6.8) among second baseman, making him one of the MLB’s most underrated players. Tampa Bay has infield prospects Willy Adames and Daniel Robertson on the way, perhaps making Forsythe obtainable. As with Dozier, however, the Rays are under no pressure to move him, thus resulting in a rich asking price.
Second base is the Dodgers’ lone gaping hole. Los Angeles will continue exploring the market for a solution.