3 Remaining Needs for the Dodgers

After finding inspiration from this MLB Trade Rumors post, I want to reset and assess what I feel are the three remaining needs for the 2019 Dodgers.

What has happened already?

First, we properly reset and revisit what has actually happened so far in this offseason (no Harper rumors here! #HarperFreeZone).

All caught up?

With all that has been done — or not done — nothing of abundant merit has been done to actually improve the 2019 Los Angeles ball club. …no slight to Mr. Joe Kelly.

What comes next for the Dodgers?

That’s the million dollar — or $40M — question. Harper is in the crosshairs (I lied above). Manny Machado is long gone, and never coming back. JT Realmuto would be a Dodger already if Jeter and Marlins were borderline reasonable. So we sit days away from the 2019 calendar year with needs.

Need Number 1: Figure out the rotation and bullpen

Yes, I’m opening this section by cheating a bit and including two action items, but they’re not as far apart as they seem.

Clayton Kershaw. Walker Buehler. Rich Hill. Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ross Stripling. Kenta Maeda. Caleb Ferguson. Julio Urias. Dennis Santana. 

These are the names of players that the team views as starting pitchers. This is, of course, after the trade of Alex Wood. Of the latter two above, Santana has no shot of cracking the rotation out of spring training, and Urias needs innings, so let’s eliminate those names for this practice.

Kenley Jansen. Pedro Baez. Joe Kelly. Scott Alexander. Dylan Floro. Tony Cingrani. JT Chargois. Josh Fields. Yimi Garcia. 

Those names make up the relief core. While the addition of Kelly makes it a bit nicer on paper, it is hardly an imposing bunch. The latter three in this case are unlikely to even be with the club by opening day, so we’ll drop those names as well.

Coming from the names in the starting hat above, Caleb Ferguson likely finds his way back into the bullpen for 2019, so now you’re at this point:

13 names for 5 rotation spots and 7 spots in the bullpen (please don’t carry 13 pitchers)

During the winter meetings, Dave Roberts had this to say,

Kenta’s gonna start, and we expect Ross to compete for a starting job.

If we can assume the rotation locks so far are Kershaw, Buehler, Hill, and Ryu, one of Maeda and Stripling will have to be in the bullpen. Sorry, Dave.

Additionally, all offseason long we have read the rumors that the Dodgers are in on Cleveland starter Corey Kluber. That’s another starting pitcher!

Personally, I’m starting to feel less inclined to trade for Kluber. I am uncomfortable trading Alex Verdugo after losing both Puig and Kemp. Simple as that.

In other trade rumors, we have also seen Hill and Stripling’s names tossed around.

I think we can start to surmise that pitching is a fine area of depth, which is good, but it also presents a headache to put together by March 28.

I’m not here to do the job of the front office and figure it out — although I easily could — I’m merely here to present need number 1: figure out your pitching, Dodgers!

Need Number 2: A Catcher

This here could be an easy answer. Just let Kiké catch!

Joking aside, earlier this offseason I got destroyed a bit when I suggested that maybe, perhaps, Austin Barnes isn’t as bad as his 2018 season was. Close to two months later, that still is the only glimmer of hope for the current opening day starting catcher for the Dodgers.

I’m not suggesting that I’m fine with Barnes as the guy, by the way.

All offseason the rumors for the Dodgers have been 85% JT Realmuto, 10% Francisco Cervelli, and 5% grab bag of Martin Maldonado/Jonathan Lucroy/Wilson Ramos.

Ramos is off the market, Lucroy was statistically worse than Barnes in 2018, and Maldonado bores me.

Cervelli has a history of concussions (plus Pirates fans liken him to a piece of glass in forums).

Realmuto has been “my guy” since at least episode 21 of the Blue Heaven Podcast, but the Marlins are starting trade talks AT Cody Bellinger. I’m not the biggest Cody supporter in the world, but I know that the kid is bordering on untouchable. No dice.

The future is right around the corner with Will Smith and Kiebert Ruiz, but the team needs someone to rely on as a bridge along with Barnes at the outset of 2019.

While certain sects of onliners (new word, you’re welcome) are calling for the return of AJ Ellis, my assumption is that Friedman scrapes together the $25-$30 (yes, dollars) that it might cost to sign free agent catcher Nick Hundley as that bridge.

I’m sorry.


Need Number 3: A Second Baseman

After not getting Scooter Gennett in the deal with the Reds, I became resigned to the fact that the Dodgers will likely run with some mixing and matching of Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor, and Max Muncy at second base for the 2019 season. Actually, I had the realization by mid-November, and honestly, I’m not super mad at it.

I know a lot of people want DJ LeMahieu for some reason, but I’m not super comfortable signing a player that can’t really always hit outside of Coors Field. Call me crazy.

When asked about the position at the winter meetings, Dave Roberts had this to say,

I think we have some very good options at second base. Kiké is a plus defender, we like Taylor over there, and also I trust Max over there.

My feeling is this, if you can’t pay to get better at one position, pay to get better at another. The team could be much worse off going into 2019 running Kiké, CT3, and Muncy out there (see above for LeMahieu as an example of worse).

For the folks that are ready to light their torches and gather up their pitch forks, I bring forward several facts and observations:

  • I don’t pay for the team
  • I don’t fill out the roster
  • Max Muncy actually became much more serviceable, if not playable, at second base by season’s end
  • I have no control in what happens
  • My address is 1234 Internet Street


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  1. If Harper is not signed. Sign Marwin Gonzalez for 2b/SS/3b and move Taylor to LF; Bellinger in CF, Verdugo in RF with Kiké backing up at 5 positions to get plenty of at-bats. Use Pederson in a package that includes a pitcher (Stripling?) for Realmuto, or in a trade to the Rays for Zunino (other players would be included). I actually like the possibility of trading with Rays for Zunino, RP Stanek, and perhaps 2b Robertson.

    • Good call and I also would love to see Zunino. Would also be thrilled to dump Joc. Losing Stripling as our long reliever would hurt most.

      Clint, great article. I would disagree that we don’t need a 2b though, and the thought of Hundley or Ellis as our primary C makes me wanna hurl. I also see no way JT, Yimi, and Josh are not with the team. 1 of them maybe but not all 3.

    • I agree with this author almost 100%—I would go hard for Kluber & Realmuto–getting both just might not happen and no mention of Harper–I have no idea what the front office will do about him—–No On Cody or Verdugo for either one of those 2–But Ruiz could be in a deal for Realmuto–and Yes Joc & Strippling could be in a deal for Kluber–both deals could add other prospects like Toles-Alverez-DJ Peters White and others–this might happen-Alot goes down in Jan & feb these days—I have a feeling something will happen–BUT if it doesnt we will be ok to start the season–We still have a fine team-Lthough I will trully Miss Puig & Kemp

  2. Nice Big 3!
    With Pitching, the Dodgers look to throw the kitchen sink around some more this year. If Kenley isn’t back in good form, Joe Kelly isn’t likely to carry the pen. If the Dodgers make an upgrade at starting pitching, or with Harper, I’d be surprised. The FO always shoots for the moon, makes a lot of fuss on the best players available and usually comes up with so-so pick ups, on the cheap.
    At 2B, you are super spot on!
    At Catcher, the right choice would be Francisco Cervelli. He’s got one year left on contract -the Dodgers need a one-ish year bridge. Pirates’ Elias Diaz, their backup, is a future phenom too.
    I’ll throw my hat in the dump Joc ring and would love to see Nick Castellanos in Dodger blue. His defense drastically improved last year and hits vs. lefties would be a game changer in the “oh no! the Dodgers have to play against a left-handed pitcher!!” column.

  3. Good observations. Like you, I’m not for trading Verdugo after losing Puig. However, if they were to land Harper then I think Verdugo is expendable. On that note, I don’t see a trade involving Verdugo until the Dodgers have an answer on Harper or unless they get another left-handed OF bat in the mix – which I don’t think is likely.

    I’m also not sold on DJ as a second base option. I would be more inclined to talk to the Marlins for Castro in a package deal for Realmuto, or look at Lowrie. CT3 is good at the position, but he’s a valuable defensive asset in the OF. Kike is the same at 2B and the OF. I wouldn’t want him tied down to any one position.

    I’m good with the starting pitching depth as it stands. If they could land Harper then they could include Verdugo, Smith, and May in a deal with the Marlins for Realmuto and Castro.

  4. Friedman will make a move down the road, and probably one that is unexpected and involves multiple players. The key is that we need to replace home runs lost when Puig and MK and Grandy departed. Unfortunately, Harper is a left handed bat, and the asking price for Realmuto is stratospheric. Mr. Friedman, the call is yours.

    • BLUE LOU! Hope your Holidays are going well and I am more concerned about the HR’s this pitching staff surrenders to be honest. We lost game # 5 of this years WS and were sent home because Dodger pitching allowed 4 HR’s to Boston while the results of this obsession with platooning ultimately made the Dodger offense a mute point.

    • BALANCE! I have been pushing for that for some time now. We are vulnerable to LHP as it is unless Dodgers can obtain that RH impact hitter to go in middle of order…and for 2nd base? Platooning like they intend to do most likely IS AS DUMB, IS AS STUPID, IS AS RIDICULOUS as anything they do or don’t do. 2nd base should not be a platoon position. As for starting pitching, IDK but we shall see.

  5. I agree with getting the pitching in order. Adding quality instead of waiting until the quality pitchers are gone and having to settle for medicrocy.
    I also agree with acquiring a quality (field leader) catcher.
    My only issue with your assessment is I think they need an everyday first baseman. Second base can be filled everyday by Taylor, he’s a natural 2nd baseman.
    Establish an everyday infield with Taylor at 2nd and a new 1st baseman. Establish Bellinger as the everyday CF.
    We need to stop with the shuffling of players and positions. Let the players settle in at their everyday positions so they can concentrate on hitting the ball.

  6. I am not an MLB GM but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express past night. Clear needs are right handed hitting (since the Reds trade) and a catcher.

    If the Dodgers can land Kluber with Verdugo and prospects and Harper (left handed) for less years and more $/year I think that gets us over the top.

    I do love that management doesn’t bury the team in long contracts (exception Mike McCarthy) or in years past a la Darren Dreifort, Mike Schmidt, Matt Kemp and Kevin Brown.

    The Dodgers have been in 20 World Series and lost 14. It’s cool to uncover short term stars off the trash heap like Taylor, Muncy and the like but this isn’t Tampa Bay.

    If you never roll the dice you can’t take it down. Frankly I’d rather not be the 2nd best team even though I am grateful to he competitive every year.

    So many times the Dodgers were one player short from making it happen. Friedman has also proven the ability to ship bad contracts out with depth. Let’s take a flier. No more champagne in the visitors locker room.

  7. This should be (but won’t be) the 25 man opening day roster:
    SP: Kershaw, Buehler, Hill, Maeda, Ryu
    RP: Jansen, Kelly, Cingrani, Ferguson, Stripling, Floro, Baez, Urias
    IF: Freese, Muncy, Kiké, Seager, Turner, Barnes, Grandal (yes him)
    OF: Pederson, Taylor, Bellinger, Verdugo, Harper

    I knew Ryu would accept his offer, which unfortunately takes a spot from Urias in the rotation. Hopefully Ryu can be moved for both monetary and roster spot purposes come Summer. At this point Miami is still rightfully but somewhat foolishly asking for the moon for Realmuto, and barring a trade for him there’s no one better than Yaz out there, if we can bring him back for a year that’d be great, or even an inflated 1+1 with the 2nd year a team option in the event Smith or Ruiz don’t pan out (read: at least one will). Maeda should be in the pen all year imo but won’t due in part to his contract which BTW I wish they could rework but I digress; he takes up a spot that could go to Santana. CT3 can (cringes) platoon with Joc in LF and Bellibomb in CF, with Kiké spelling Verdugo/Harper every now and sometimes in RF.

  8. Friedman ruined the team when he traded Puig and the other 3 to the Reds. Something is wrong the way so many FO and coaches jumped ship. The team will never make it to the playoffs, with or without Harper. One man cannot fix this mess that FO created. I had such hopes when the new owners took over. Turns out they are no different than the past owner. All they care about is making lots of money and to hell with the fans. Oh Magic, I thought you were better than this! I’m done with the Dodgers. They broke my heart trading Puig. I’ll watch him help the Reds beat up the Dodgers when they play them.

    • Good grief, Dodgers have won the NL West 6 consecutive years and gone to the World Series last 2 seasons. Yes, there has been turnover in the FO and on-field coaches but that is going to happen when a team continues to be successful year after year. Take a breath and see what the roster looks like at the end of Spring Training and then again in post season. The Dodgers are at the point that a roster transition is needed in order to remain competitive for post season play. The 3 players traded to the Reds are their final season before free agency and there are 5 more still on the roster in the same situation (Hill, Ryu, Freese, Cingrani, and Fields). Change in MLB rosters is inevitable, it is just part of the business; sitting back and allowing all 8 to become free agents at the same time next year is not good business and I trust this FO to assemble a roster that will not only be competitive in 2019, but years to come.

  9. I don’t see Verdugo as the answer. He is left handed single hitter. Need more power from the right hand side of the plate. The starting pitching. is good but not great. This present team is not treat to win the world series. I would love to see Dodgers spe enough money to be threat to win the world series. I don’t have an answer to what they must do, but it needs to be more than seeing what is cheap.

  10. I don’t see Verdugo as the answer. He is left handed single hitter. Need more power from the right hand side of the plate. The starting pitching. is good but not great. This present team is not treat to win the world series. I would love to see Dodgers spe enough money to be threat to win the world series.

  11. Trading Puig is a historic mistake. Like trading Wills or trading Martinez or not re signing Beltre. To make up for this they should go for pitching adding a “Kluber” and another solid reliever. With that pitching and with Turner, Seager, Bellinger and Muncy they can get to August and rent some power at that point and have another shot at a National league championship. Then we need smarter managing to win 4 more games. Game 4 last year and game 2 the year before comes to mind. Time to manage every World Series game as it was game seven. And one last thought coach to beat the shift. The heart of this team will be the starting rotation as good as any in the N.L.

  12. The Dodgers have to be really careful not to keep selling off the farm. In the last year and a half:
    Received and kept: Downs, Gray

    Lost: Puig, Wood, Kemp, Farmer, Calhoun 2B, Alexy RHP, Davis SS, Diaz OF, Kremer RHP, Bannon 3B, Pop RHP, Valera 2B, Copping P, Railey OF/1B, Smeltzer P, Deleon P

    I may have missed something….but, the Dodgers have traded away a lot of depth and talent for short term rentals that yielded nothing that remained…..It seems that the FO could have made better deals and could have netted more in return for what they gave up.

    • You failed to take into account that the Dodgers have had added substantial talent to the minor league system through the June 2017 and 2018 drafts plus 2 international signing periods.

  13. This should be our team in 2019
    1B Muncy
    2B Kike
    SS Seager
    2B Turner
    LF Harper
    CF Cody
    RF Verdugo
    Barnes-Taylor-Freese-Joc-RH prospect–DJ Peters? or trade for one
    this spring could show some body also
    there would be a spot for a RH hitter in the outfield on the bench
    and also the bullpen would have many to choose from
    this team could win the Wrold Sieries
    We could easily compete with the big 3 in the AL
    This could really happen if the trades could be done

  14. First get real here… NO Realmoto, No Machado and NO Harper. Not going to happen. Never was at those numbers and a team has to be INSANE to give a 10 year contract at 300-400 million absolute Insanity. No need for Realmoto as we have Smith and Ruiz incoming starting 2020 and it would be crazy to give up Bellinger.

    Friedman recently stated that the Dodgers have traded more Farm Team players away than any other team in the last two years. Getting two top ten Minor League Talents from the Reds was a solid move. They are re-stocking and have great talent loaded up for 2020 in Smith, Lux, Santana and possibly May and White. And gaining 16 million next year in flexibility is a great job. Puig was not a hot commodity in the trade market although if I were the Marlins I would have taken him for the Cuban market. Puig is a great celebrity and fan favorite. He loves the fans.

    They will have pitchers Hill and Ryu coming off contracts after 2019 campaign. And the young arms that get some experience now will be that further ahead for 2020. I forecast the Dodgers will be better in 2019 than 2018 in wins barring injury as we will have key players like Seager, Turner, Ryu and Muncy in the line up at the start of the year. Remember last year the dreadful start in the first quarter?

    If Muncy can play at second base we will have a helluva an offensive infield and if Barnes can resemble even close to 2017 offensively he will be fine. I do not agree we absolutely need to make any trades as this team wins the NL West as it stands with everyone but the Rockies in rebuild.

    The important thing here is to win the Division after that it depends on injury and who gets Hot. This team can win the division and if they are a little fortunate may have the deepest Starting rotation in baseball. I would love to see a 6 man rotation to take stress of Kershaw, Ryu and limit Urias’s innings…

    If Verdugo is as good as the FO thinks and Toles plays to his already shown ability we will have an even stronger Outfield this year and a great defensive one.

    The only defensive weak spot in this entire team is Muncy and they say he is working hard at it. IF that is the case The 2019 Dodgers win 100 as is… And take the division again…

    Kluber is interesting but not really needed and I would keep Stripling if at all possible as he has been incredible out of the bullpen and could be a great starting pitcher when the log jam clears up in 2020. Remember the first half of 2018? I think Stripling was slightly injured for awhile in the second half as his number took a nosedive.

    Looking forward to 2019 and beyond Go Blue…