Free agency finally got underway this morning and while free agents won’t be able to officially sign until November 5, rumors will be aplenty for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers will be active on both fronts as they’ve already been linked to Rays ace David Price via trade and have admitted to scouting Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. With 10 free agents of their own and declining the options for both Mark Ellis and Chris Capuano, the off-season is in full swing.
We’ve already predicted which free agents we think will re-sign with the Dodgers so without further ado, here are our predictions about who the Dodgers will sign or trade during the off-season.
Sign Masahiro Tanaka
I went through extensively why the Dodgers should sign Tanaka yesterday and I do believe they’ll do whatever it takes to sign him if he’s posted like everyone believes. Tanaka is currently 26-0, including the Japan Series and given the Dodgers recent international signings, it’s a natural fit.
Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett are coming off serious injuries while Ricky Nolasco will walk via free agency. A rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Masahiro Tanaka would be one of the best in baseball and give the Dodgers a chance to win night-in and night-out.
Tanaka will be expensive and will surpass the $111.7 million the Rangers paid for Yu Darvish back in 2011 with posting fee and contract included.
Trade Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp
Yes the Dodgers didn’t play a game with all four outfielders healthy, but I don’t foresee all four to stay with the team this off-season. Kemp is coming off two surgeries and hopes to be ready for spring training while Ethier should be ready to go after a leg injury sidelined him the better portion of a month.
Ethier signed a five-year $75 million extension back in 2012 as it was the first act of good faith from the Guggenheim Group. However, Ethier was never worth that much money and if the Dodgers trade him, they’ll have to eat most of the contract.
The Dodgers would be wise to deal one of the two as it’ll alleviate the jam in the outfield and they could get a prospect or two in return.
Re-Sign Brian Wilson and Juan Uribe
Re-signing Wilson would be the cherry on the top for the Dodgers as he’ll likely want closer’s money or be a closer for another team. However, his relationship with Ned Colletti could be a deciding factor for him as he became a fan favorite during the season.
Meanwhile, Uribe would be the perfect stop-gap at third base before top prospects Corey Seager is ready for the big leagues, so a one or two year contract wouldn’t be terrible. Not to mention, the third base market is relatively weak as Jhonny Peralta could be another target if Uribe goes in a different direction.
Sign Eric Chavez
In looking at the capable free agent third baseman, it’s hard to find anyone that could start for the Dodgers. However, Chavez could be a good option off the bench and a platoon partner for Uribe in 2014.
Last season, Chavez hit .281 with nine home runs and 44 RBI in just 80 games as he battled injuries, but in his previous year with the Yankees, he hit .281 with 16 home runs and 37 RBI in 113 games. Chavez would provide some sock off the bench and be a much needed upgrade over Jerry Hairston Jr.
Sign another middle reliever
In looking at the relief market it’s hard to find someone that Dodgers would be interested in. Edward Mujica, Jason Frasor and Jesse Crain stick out as the Dodgers likely won’t retain Carlos Marmol.
Brandon League looms in the bullpen, but as we saw last season, he can’t be trusted in pressure situations. Getting another solid arm in the bullpen is a huge key as the Dodgers have several bullpen free agents.
Colletti, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson have come out and said that the team will be aggressive this off-season so expect some change. In looking to find someone to replace Nick Punto and/or Skip Schumaker, the middle infield market is considerably weak, so don’t be surprised if they remain Dodgers.
It’s an exciting time to be a Dodger fan as the ownership group has shown a true commitment to putting a great team together for multiple seasons and 2014 should be no different.
In case you missed it – Dodgers Decline Mark Ellis and Chris Capuano Options