As we all know, the 2017 Dodgers finished one win shy of winning the team’s first World Series title since 1988. Although the team ultimately fell short of its overall goal, the future is bright, and amidst the hot stove of the offseason the Dodgers find themselves with very few holes to fill. That being said, with the 2017 Baseball Winter Meetings quickly approaching, an offseason that has been slow moving so far is sure to gain momentum in the coming weeks.

With so many front office members in the same place at the same time, it is the perfect time to either lay the framework for a deal, or close a deal that is already in the works. Dodgers’ President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has a history of making moves at the winter meetings. In 2014, Friedman pulled off two deals that landed Austin Barnes, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Hatcher, Howie Kendrick, and Yasmani Grandal in Los Angeles. Will the Dodgers continue to make shrewd moves around the fringes of the roster, or will they aim their sights even higher? If a big deal does go down, there could be a domino effect that shakes up the entire roster. Everything this offseason seems to be waiting on…

Shohei Ohtani:

The Japanese superstar is the player making the most noise so far this offseason. He is a unique talent that was widely regarded as the best pitcher AND best hitter in Japan over the last few years. It is a long-shot for him to end up in Los Angeles since international spending restrictions from prior years limit their offer to a meager $300,000. Other teams, including the Yankees, can offer up to $3.5 million as a bonus. In addition, it is assumed that he wants an opportunity to get consistent at bats when he is not pitching. Although the Dodgers might be able to accommodate this by playing him at first base or in the outfield, Ohtani signing with an American League team that utilizes the Designated Hitter is probably more attractive to him.

However, Ohtani’s agent recently sent out a memo to all Major League teams to gain information addressing how they would handle seven specific areas. If the Dodgers make a good impression and present a compelling case, it is feasible to see Ohtani ending up in Dodger blue. The Dodgers do love position flexibility and Ohtani offers flexibility unseen in the MLB in quite some time. If the Dodgers do strike out on Ohtani, maybe it’s time to pull the trigger on a trade for a big-name starter (Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole come to mind) or trade for…

Giancarlo Stanton:

The reigning National League MVP is available in a trade as the Marlins’ new ownership group, led by Derek Jeter, has made it clear that they plan to cut payroll. Stanton put together a fantastic 2017 season, triple slashing .281/.376.631 with a major league-leading 59 home runs. He would slide right into the middle of the Dodgers’ order and man left field for years to come. However, Stanton’s contract is not only huge, it is complicated for a couple of reasons.

  • He has a full no-trade clause. Although it is presumed that he would ok a trade to the team he grew up rooting for, he has not explicitly said as much.
  • Other teams, mainly the Giants and Cardinals, have been fervently pursuing him this offseason. Unlike those two teams, the Dodgers do not have a hole in their lineup and will not get into a bidding war to acquire Stanton.

  • He still has 10 years and $295 million left on his contract (year 11 is worth $25 million with a $10 million buyout). He can also opt out after the 2020 season, which makes it even more confusing to predict a trade package that would be needed to complete the deal. For a team like the Dodgers, it might not seem like a big issue to pick up his contract, but they are trying hard to get under…

The luxury tax threshold:

Although the Dodgers seem to have unlimited funds, it is becoming increasingly urgent for the organization to bring their payroll down below the $197 million dollar luxury tax threshold. If not, the team is in danger of accumulating an even higher tax bill (up to 95% of the overages), and dropping down 10 spots in the draft. Staying below the $197 million line for a season would allow the Dodgers to reset the penalties they’ve accrued and give them a fresh start in taxes moving forward.

With raises given to the nine arbitration-eligible players, mlbtraderumors.com has estimated the Dodgers 2018 opening day payroll to be around $183 million. While that current estimate has them safely below the threshold, adding Stanton’s contract, averaging out to nearly 30 million annually, would push the club well above it. Any trade for Stanton would likely require a player such as Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, or Adrian Gonzalez to be sent to Miami. Trading away one of the high-priced pitchers would be useful in solving a roster crunch where the Dodgers have too many…

Starting Pitchers:

It is never a good idea to assume health for starting pitchers, especially for a Dodgers’ rotation that has missed so much time over the last few seasons. That being said, even before making any trades or signing any free agents (Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are both available), the Dodgers will enter the 2018 season with these starting pitchers under contract:

  •       Clayton Kershaw
  •       Rich Hill
  •       Alex Wood
  •       Scott Kazmir
  •       Kenta Maeda
  •       Hyun-Jin Ryu
  •       Brandon McCarthy
  •       Brock Stewart
  •       Walker Buehler

In addition, guys like Trevor Oaks, Wilmer Font and a recovering Julio Urias could all be ready to make a run at cracking the rotation. Maybe the Dodgers decide to thin out the number of starting pitchers by adding a few of these guys to the…

Bullpen:

For the last few seasons, the bullpen has been a strength for the Dodgers as the relief corps has had one of the lowest collective earned run averages in the majors. The team will need to decide whether or not to bring back their two key free agents, Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Morrow is coming off of a fantastic season where he posted a 2.06 ERA, a 0.916 WHIP, and struck out 50 batters in 40.2 innings. But he has had a career riddled with injuries and the club may be unwilling to offer him a three to four-year deal that other teams might. Watson had a bit of a career resurgence when he was acquired at the trade deadline, posting a 2.70 ERA to go along with a 1.050 WHIP. He was even better in the NLCS and World Series, throwing six scoreless innings across nine appearances.

However, similarly to Morrow, the Dodgers may be unwilling to pay the price he will demand on the open market. It seems unlikely that the team will target one of the other high-priced free agent relievers available, especially with the surplus of arms they have available. Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling and Josh Fields had solid albeit unremarkable seasons. Tony Cingrani, Luis Avilan, Edward Paredes, and a recovering Adam Liberatore will all be options from the left side. Stewart and Buehler could also be bullpen options, as it would keep their innings in moderation and their stuff would play up in the bullpen.

Mitch White, Yaisel Sierra, and Jordan Sheffield are other intriguing young arms in the system that could make an appearance sometime in 2018. Yimi Garcia is also expected to be healthy and ready for action come opening day. Don’t expect significant moves in the bullpen. However, one place where we could see a lot of movement is…

Left Field:

If the Dodgers acquire Stanton, this is a no-brainer. If not, expect to see a carousel of rotating players as Dave Roberts looks for the best possible matchups. Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, and Alex Verdugo are all expected to compete for the starting job against right handers. Hernandez has proven to be a lefty masher in his career, compiling a career .270/.364/.518 slash line. The final position where we might see some changes is at…

Catcher:

It looks like Austin Barnes has cemented his status as the everyday starting catcher moving forward. That leaves the Dodgers in an awkward position with Grandal who would be an effective, but expensive, backup. Recent reports have showed that the Dodgers are willing to trade Grandal and this would not only save the team a considerable amount of money, but they could also receive a valuable piece, or pieces, in exchange.

In limited action, Kyle Farmer has shown that he is not overwhelmed playing on the big stage and could prove to be a valuable backup who, like Barnes, also has positional flexibility. The Dodgers also own one of the deepest catching corps in the minor leagues with Will Smith, Keibert Ruiz, and Connor Wong all making their way up through the system. If the Dodgers do trade away Grandal, all that is left to work out is who comes off the…

Bench:

There does not appear to be much of hole here as players like Toles, Verdugo, Hernandez, Charlie Culberson, and the backup catcher all have the inside position to earning a bench spot. The only opening might be for a left handed hitting backup infielder but there does not appear to be many cheap alternatives available. Chase Utley is available, though his struggles last year might be a concern. Expect the Dodgers to tweak around the fringes to round out the bench.

Whatever the front office decides to do, whether it be a big splash or a small ripple, the team is set up for sustained success for years to come. The Winter Meetings kick off December 11th in Orlando, and Ohtani will be posted sometime in the next few days. The 2018 roster should begin to start taking shape soon. Stay tuned.

Giants Executives Meeting With Giancarlo Stanton’s Representatives

3 Responses

  1. Rick Kreitlein

    I don’t think LA can afford to stand pat with the lineup and expect to waltz to 100 wins again, especially if they are prepared to let two of Robert’s 8th inning options depart. Letting the wretched Giants have Stanton without a fight would be sickening.

    Reply
    • Daniel

      Let the giants pay for Stanton! They slready have so much money tied up in large contracts they will be stuck for years. And all the Dodger players need to do,next year is pseform as good as they did last year. I think some of them will be even better!

      Reply
  2. gregn213

    RosterResource, which I think is assembled by one of the people at MLBTR, adding up the guaranteed salaries, the dead money owed to former players, the minimum wage owed to the 5 players who aren’t eligible for arbitration, used the same salary guesstimates as the link you provided for the players who can go to arbitration, and got 25 players owed over $208M. Also, do all those horrible taxes and draft penalties kick in for the Dodgers if they go over the $197M luxury tax limit, or if they reach $235M?

    Reply

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