It might be one of the most difficult times in history to be a Dodgers fan right now. Even more than losing back-to-back World Series, the last six months have been wild for fans in Los Angeles. The Astros cheating scandal just reminded us that we should have had our first championship since 1988, and things have only gotten stranger since then.
The Dodgers got Mookie Betts in February, which was great, but things have gone downhill quickly. The entire sports world shut down with the COVID-19 pandemic, and baseball has had to have conversations on how to proceed. The league has already decided with the Player’s Union that 2020 will count as one year of service time, regardless of whether or not games were played.
That rule adjustment makes this year that much more difficult for Dodgers fans. If no games are played this year, Mookie Betts can enter free agency without ever playing a game for Los Angeles. Unfortunately, there are more key pieces on the team that going to be entering free agency after 2020.
When Justin Turner came over to the Dodgers, very little was expected of him. At best, the assumption was that he would earn some sort of bench role and rotate into the lineup. Turner shocked the baseball world when he hit .340 for the Dodgers in 2014 across 109 games played.
Since that time, Turner has become a staple in the Dodgers’ lineup. He has hit 112 homeruns and driven in 383 en route to two World Series appearances and a few iconic clutch moments. Turner will be 36 in November and is also in the final year of his four-year deal. It does not seem likely that JT would play anywhere else, but if the year were to be skipped altogether, it would be hard to justify spending more than two years on him.
Turner’s offense and defense took a little bit of a downturn last year as his age begins to show a little. Regardless, he is one of the best stories to come out of Los Angeles in a long time. Expect him to get a Chase Utley type of deal, but for much more money.
If you were surprised Joc was still on the team when Spring Training started, you’re not alone. Pederson seemed like the perfect trade candidate when the Dodgers acquired Mookie Betts, maybe even before that. A powerful left-handed hitting outfielder that crushed 36 homeruns in platoon role just screams trade bait for a crowded outfield like the Dodgers have.
And that’s not to say they did not try. The Dodgers had a deal in place that would have sent Joc and Ross Stripling to Anaheim, a deal that ultimately fell through. Nevertheless, Joc is in the final year of arbitration before he is eligible to become a free agent. He projects to earn close to $15 million a year annually, putting him far out of Los Angeles’ price range for a platoon guy.
So if 2020 is a total loss, the Dodgers held onto Joc for no reason at all. The plan was likely to look for a trade partner throughout the year, but we may never know.
There are four other guys scheduled to enter free agency that are worth noting as well. Pedro Baez is in the final year of arbitration, earning $4 million in 2020. It’s a little bit of a guess to assume Baez what Baez gets paid since the Dodgers have used him in a very strange way throughout his career.
Alex Wood signed a one-year, $4 million deal to return to the Dodgers and enter their starting rotation. With Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin ready to go, it seems as though Wood would go elsewhere in 2021.
Blake Treinen signed a one-year, $10 million deal that the Dodgers were hopeful would pay off. Treinen has been an elite reliever as recently as 2018 and they were betting on him returning to that form. He only threw one inning in spring training, but I am sure there are other teams that would be willing to take a gamble on him.
Enrique Hernandez has been a fan-favorite since he arrived in Los Angeles, but he is in his final year of arbitration as well. Your guess is as good as mine as to what teams will pay him, but he was having a heck of a spring. Kiké hit three homeruns in thirty at-bats during Spring Training.
All of that to say, the 2020 season better happen. The team will look much different next year no matter how many games are played in 2020, so now is the time to take advantage and bring a World Series back to Los Angeles.