After the non-tender deadline came and went on Monday, many new free agents found themselves on the open market. One new free agent is Yimi Garcia, who will not be back with the Dodgers in 2020. This leaves the Dodgers 40-man roster at 39 as of this writing.
Players that are non-tendered are rarely a sure thing. Often times they are coming off of injuries or bad seasons and teams feel they aren’t worth the projected arbitration salary. A couple of wrinkles in the upcoming season include the 3 batter minimums for pitchers and the extra roster spot that will probably be for a position player.
From the list of available players here are some needs that could be fulfilled:
- That 26th man
- Backend starting pitcher
- Right handed bat
Position Player Candidates
Three years ago, Charlie Culberson sent Vin Scully off the right way. pic.twitter.com/g4XEK1WHlO
— Chavez Ravine Fiends (@RavineFiends) September 25, 2019
We’ll start off with a true old friend in Charlie Culberson. He slashed .259/.294/.437 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in a down season after slashing .270/.326/.466 in 2018. Culberson is an excellent infielder with good speed (28.2 feet per second). The Dodgers could do a lot worse than Culberson for the new 26th spot on the roster as he also bats right handed. Not that it should matter to the front office, but he is universally loved amongst Dodger faithful.
Jose Peraza was traded by the Dodgers after the 2015 season to the Reds. He’s one of those cases where the production never seemed to match the prospect potential. His 2019 (.239/.285/.346) was a big drop from a good 2018 (.288/.326/.416) as he even got sent to AAA for a few days. He has about the same speed as Culberson and the need for him is similar to Charlie.
The last two seasons for Steven Souza have been a disaster. He was acquired from the Diamondbacks from the Rays after he had slashed .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs in 2017. He was bad in 2018 before getting hurt and wrecked his left knee before the 2019 season. Before he was hurt he had good speed. Who knows how much speed might be lost due to his injury. Souza is an outfielder who bats right handed with a decent power/speed combo, when healthy.
— Robby Rowland (@RobbyRow_12) April 21, 2019
Kevin Gausman is known as a starter but the Reds put him in the bullpen at the end of 2019. He’s a two pitch guy; 95 MPH fastball and a splitter. That’s the same pitch mix as Kirby Yates and it took him a bit to become a great reliever.
As evidenced by his 6.37/3.10 starter/reliever splits, I think Gausman has the potential to play up in the bullpen and I like the fact he uses a splitter.
The best case scenario is that the Dodgers can get Blake Treinen for a good deal and Kenley Jansen rebounds. That would help to make the bullpen a real strength and one that Dave Roberts can trust.
Treinen was an All-Star in 2018 and even picked up AL Cy Young consideration that season. However, shoulder woes plagued the sinker-baller in 2019 and lead to his ERA climbing by nearly 4 full runs. But when he’s healthy, he’s dominant.
Has their ever been a more Friedman guy available https://t.co/s08AZHWXiU
— Brook Smith (@brookme3) December 3, 2019
Just make this happen!
Most of us haven’t heard of Jason Adam and how good can he be if the Blue Jays let him go. His pitch mix is a fastball (94 MPH), curveball and a changeup. Adam is one of those guys that the Dodgers sign for potential and see if they can change his pitch mix for more success.
One change for Los Angeles is that Rick Honeycutt is no longer the pitching coach, so only time will tell what effect that has on the club’s long history of success stories.
Starting Pitching Candidates
The Astros traded for Aaron Sanchez at the trade deadline and he promptly hurt his shoulder. After August shoulder surgery, he’s not expected back until mid-2020 at best, so he could be someone that is signed as back end rotation insurance — similarly to how clubs may look at Rich Hill after elbow surgery.
The Dodgers might have a lot of younger pitchers in the rotation, and with that comes innings limits. Someone like Sanchez could be a nice boost in the middle of the season. Some have said that he also could be a good bullpen option.
Before he injured his shoulder, Jimmy Nelson looked to finally be turning potential into results. After 3 seasons where he posted a 4.46 ERA over 426 innings, in 2017 he seemed to put it all together. He had a 3.49 ERA with 199 strikeouts over 175.1 innings before succumbing to an injury late in the season. However, the following two seasons have been injury-riddled for the right-hander.
I would expect Nelson to sign a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Welcome back, Taijuan Walker! ?????? pic.twitter.com/JQ2SBFm3IV
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) September 29, 2019
After finally recovering from 2018 Tommy John surgery, the Diamondbacks decided not to tender a contract to Taijuan Walker. The move was surprising as he was a pitcher in high demand just a few years ago. 2020 could be a season where Walker could put up around 100 innings as he continues his recovery. Thankfully for Walker, he still has youth on his side.
Just like Treinen, there aren’t many opportunities to get a player like this off the free agent market for cheap.
There are some interesting pieces now available. I’d like the Dodgers to go pretty hard for Blake Treinen and Taijuan Walker as they both have the talent to be elite. Moreover, it could be an opportunity for new LA pitching coach Mark Prior to follow in his predecessor’s shoe steps with successful reclamation projects.
I’m guessing it will take about $8M for Treinen and $6M for Walker since there will be many other teams interested. Any of the above players could provide some help and are worth a look. As the saying goes, “you can never have enough pitching.”