As we continue to look through the Los Angeles Dodgers roster, we take a look at the free agents in the infield and outfield. With key players contracts being up soon, we look at what options the Dodgers have.

Dodgers trade rumors are swirling with the trade deadline on Monday and it’s unclear in what direction the Dodgers are leaning toward. The Dodgers have been rumored to be looking at Chris Archer, Jay Bruce and more prospects.

Free Agency Round Up (Pre Trade Deadline) Part 1 of 2: Catchers, Bullpen and Pitchers

Let’s continue to take a look position by position.

First Base – 2016

Starter

Adrian Gonzalez – Signed through 2018

Back-ups

Scott Van Slyke – Arbitration eligible through 2019

Top Free Agent Options

Edwin Encarnacion
Adam Lind
Mark Teixeira

Top Minor League Options

Cody Bellinger

Edwin Rios

Analysis

First base is a no brainer… for the time being. 2018 will be the telling year for first base with the Dodgers. 2018 should see the emergence of Cody Bellinger who should challenge for the starting job once Gonzalez’s contract is up in 2019.

Second Half Prediction

The Gonzalez train will keep rolling in the second half. As long as he is healthy, there is no reason to think otherwise. Scott Van Slyke will give him a break here and there, but if the unforeseen happens, you might see some interesting moves take place like Chase Utley or Howie Kendrick filling in for SVS from time to time.

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Season of Justin Turner

Second Base – 2016

Starter

Chase Utley – Free Agent in 2017

Back-ups

Howie Kendrick – Signed through 2017

Enrique Hernandez – Team Control 2017, Arbitration Eligible through 2020

Top Free Agent Option

Neil Walker

Top Minor League Options

Willie Calhoun

Omar Estevez

Micah Johnson

Analysis

Second base following the 2016 season will show whether or not the Dodgers have faith in Kike Hernandez’s future as a starter. They will still have Howie Kendrick as their fail safe, but if the confidence in Hernandez is gone, I can see him being dealt at some point or continue in a super utility role.

If Hernandez cannot keep the starting role, I can see Willie Calhoun taking the second base role in 2018. Calhoun has made huge strides in Double A Tulsa, and is a year or two away from the bigs.

I cannot see a Neil Walker signing only because I think Kike is serviceable second baseman, and will come at a fraction of the cost to land Walker. Ultimately, I see Calhoun as the future at second base.

Second Half Prediction

I feel Utley has done a great job at second base and the fact that he has batted leadoff for the majority of the season was a huge bonus. I can see this continuing for the rest of the season, but I cannot see this going beyond 2016.

The age is a huge factor and with Kendrick signed through 2017, it would make no sense having two fail safes at second.

Why Dodgers May Alter Their Deadline Strategy

Short Stop – 2016

Starter

Corey Seager – Under team control through 2018, Arbitration eligible through 2021

Back-ups

Chris Taylor – Under team control through 2018, Arbitration eligible through 2021

Top Free Agent Option

Erick Aybar

Top Minor League Options

Gavin Lux

Analysis

Seager will be the man at Short for the foreseeable future. That future, according to MLB.com will be around 2020 when the Dodgers first round pick Gavin Lux will be ready to make his Major League debut. At this point I would expect Seager to make the move to Third Base.

Second Half Prediction

The second half will see Seager battle it out with two other rookie short stops for Rookie of the Year honors. I think we all know who will win that battle…

Third Base – 2016

Starter

Justin Turner – Free Agent in 2017

Back-ups

Chris Taylor

Enrique Hernandez

Top Free Agent Option

Luis Valbuena

Top Minor League Options

N/A

Analysis

Justin Turner stands to receive a significant raise in 2017 and the next few years after. He is one of two Dodger free agents the club must show the money to, or else they may stand to lose an impact player.

The free agent market in 2017 for third base is thin. I can see the Dodgers extending Turner for the next three to four years at which time they would be ready to move Seager to the hot corner.

Second Half Prediction

So much is relying on the health of Turner. Unfortunately, that has been the part of Turner with the most inconsistency. If Turner can remain healthy, I would expect him to continue putting up strong numbers, and cash in before the 2017 season.

Should the Dodgers Pursue a Trade for Jay Bruce?

Outfield – 2016

Starters

Joc Pederson – Team control through 2017, Arbitration eligible through 2020

Yasiel Puig – Signed through 2018, Arbitration eligible in 2019

Andre Ethier – (Injured) Signed through 2018

Back-ups

Scott Van Slyke

Howie Kendrick

Enrique Hernandez

Trace Thompson – Under team control through 2018, Arbitration eligible through 2021

Andrew Toles – Unknown

Top Free Agent Options

Jose Bautista
Carlos Beltran
Jay Bruce
Ian Desmond
Carlos Gomez
Angel Pagan
Colby Rasmus
Josh Reddick
Alex Rios
Michael Saunders
Mark Trumbo

Top Minor League Options

Alex Verdugo

Yusniel Diaz

Starling Heredia

Jacob Scavuzzo

Johan Mieses

Analysis

At the beginning of the season, the Dodgers felt they would finally get the returns they expected from the contract they extended to Andre Ethier in 2013. This would have strengthened Ethier’s trade value prior to the deadline if the Dodgers wanted to include him in a trade. Unfortunately a freak injury may cost Ethier the entire 2016 season. The hope is that he will be back in time for a playoff push. The Dodgers will have the option to buy out his contract in 2018.

Joc Pederson has seen a slight regression in power this year, but he has cut down on his strikeouts and raised his batting average slightly. Though he is not the clubhouse liability that Puig is, I fear that he may not reach the potential the Dodgers had hoped for. I feel that moving both Pederson and Puig would yield positive long-term results. However, the hit on the defensive side will be noticed. The Dodgers have serviceable young back-ups in Thompson and Toles, but I do not see them as a long-term answer either.

If the Dodgers are to make a splash in free agency, the outfield is where they can make their presence felt. I feel they should try and land one impact bat, and a veteran place holder until Verdugo is ready for the bigs.

My ideal acquisitions would be Jay Bruce, and Angel Pagan. Bruce would quickly inject power into the line-up. Pagan will provide a strong contact bat at the top of the line-up. The remaining Outfield spot can be manned through spring training competition.

Second Half Prediction

As much as I would like to see a purge in the Dodger outfield, I think we will see the same cast of characters for the rest of the season. The outfield brings strong defense, but it is a bad sign when your best hitting outfielder is a converted second baseman.

Making Sense of Evan Longoria Coming to Los Angeles

In Summary

What frustrates me from time to time about Dodger fans is that we sometimes feel that throwing money at the problem is the answer. Does the franchise have money? Yes. Does that mean we should spend money like a crazy person? Not a chance. Andrew Freidman and Farhan Zaidi were not brought in to help the Dodgers spend their money. They were brought in to streamline the spending process while developing a system that will sustain winning for a long period of time.

Currency in baseball isn’t limited to just dollars and cents. It has taken a few years to build the best farm system in baseball. While it means that the team will get younger and more cost effective, it also means that the currency the Dodgers use will begin to include prospects as well as dollars and cents.

This, to me, brings about the greatest opportunity for growth in a franchise that has been successful over the past three decades. In the last 30 years, the Dodgers have had 3 sub .500 seasons, and have won 6 division championships in the last 10 years.

If we define winning as Championship or bust, we will become bitter and disappointed like many other fans who expect to win the World Series every year. If we see winning as a process, we can see that we are building a franchise that will give itself a chance to win it all every year. It is naive to think that teams are built in the offseason to win the World Series.

They are built to make the playoffs, and what happens from that point on is determined by talent, a little luck, and the core leadership of the team. I believe that core is the guy at the top step of the dugout, and the Dodgers front office did a great job of taking care of that position in the offseason. For more Dodgers News, check back to Dodgers Nation!

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About The Author

As you would have guessed... I am a life long Dodger fan, and a native of the Los Angeles Area. Grew up in SGV and I now live in the SFV. Married to a beautiful and immensely patient woman who has given me 2, and God willing, soon to be 3 boys... Vin, Tommy, and (in December) Robinson. What you might not know is that I am a long time fan of the Arizona Cardinals, LA Lakers, LA Kings, and LA Clippers (THERE'S NO RULES MAN!). Avid chicken wing eater and record collector. I also have a sick love for economics, which means YES I AM A SUPPORTER OF THE FRONT OFFICE.

5 Responses

  1. HawkeyeDodger

    Randy,  Love the KISS shirt.  I have one similar from when they opened their tour at Dodger Stadium.  I enjoyed both pieces. However, no thank you on Pagan.  We’ve got enough injury prone players on the Dodgers and he seems to be in a serious decline to me especially his defense.  I think people need to stop knocking Puig on being bad in the clubhouse.  Seems like the last two years, the worst thing he’s done is wear shoes with Vin on them.  As for Joc, it seems to me that he may just be a LH Drew Stubbs.  I have serious doubts about his ability to ever hit .250.  If Puig is just a .280-285 guy who hits 12-15 HR’s while playing GG defense.  I’ll take it at $6 million a year.  However, if he can’t stay on the field, he isn’t doing anyone any good.

    It appears to me that the Dodgers need a RH bat to help against lefties.  The Dodgers have no one producing against lefties.

    Reply
  2. BruceMcClanahan

    Pagan is on the field no more than Puig, no interest there. Trade for Bruce now and look at a possible extension. Not ready to give up on Joc yet. GG CF is too valuable. Love Bellinger, Verdugo, and Calhoun. Puig can go in any deal.

    Reply
  3. HawkeyeDodger

    BruceMcClanahan My last name is McClanahan too.  Saw the Brewers just drafted a McClanahan and signed him.

    Reply
  4. BruceMcClanahan

    HawkeyeDodger BruceMcClanahan Good to know you. The Brewers actually have a loaded system, and should be contenders soon. Good luck to their McClanahan.

    Reply

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