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).
- Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers agreed to a 3-year contract worth $93M
- Literally (figuratively) every front office and field staff type left the organization
- Yasmani Grandal and Hyun-Jin Ryu recieved qualifying offers
- Ryu accepted, Grandal rejected
- Joe Kelly and the Dodgers agreed to a 3-year, $25M deal (editor’s note: I also suggested that we forgive him)
- Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and cash were shipped to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey, and two prospects
- Homer Bailey was released
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.
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.
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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