When I first conceived this article during the playoffs it was of players I thought had used up their usefulness to the Dodgers. It was originally just going to be about why Alex Wood, Yasmani Grandal and Yasiel Puig should move on. Nothing personal as I admire all those players. However, with a look back at the whole season and the playoffs the tone changed. I still list those players but have been re-sold on Puig. This article also takes some perspective of the player and what might be best for him and not necessarily the Dodgers.
There is a common theme with these players. They have been bounced to and from the rotation over the last few years and it is negatively impacting their career arc and earnings.
Alex Wood: He was so good in the first half of 2017 with higher velocity than at any time in his career. At the beginning of the 2017 season he was sitting at 92-95 MPH. Starting in July 2017 a drop started to occur so he know sits at 88-91 MPH. Going from just the stretch probably hasn’t helped. When he went to the bullpen at the end of 2018 I expected an uptick but it never happened. He also didn’t seem the same coming out of the bullpen as he almost looked depressed out there. Would should be a starter and might make around $9 million in arbitration. I can envision a trade but I believe it would be selling low.
Ross Stripling: Strip had an excellent first half but seemed to wear out during the second half. A back injury didn’t help. For the sake of his career and future paychecks he should be a starter. 2019 is his age 29 season and he’s not eligible for arbitration until after this coming season.
Kenta Maeda: His contract is very team friendly, especially when he goes to the bullpen. All of his incentives are as a starting pitcher. If his contract is not modified, he should be traded to a team that will just start him. I like how they use him and would prefer they keep him with a modified contract.
Yasmani Grandal has, overall, been an excellent trade acquisition. He puts up strong numbers for a catcher and is elite at pitch framing. Grandal has had a problem with passed balls, even some yips catching the ball and has poor playoff offensive numbers. He is a free agent and was given a Qualifying Offer (QO). If he accepts I would be pleased but a lot of the fan base would not be. The fact he was boo’d during a playoff game should give him pause about returning to the Dodgers. I would not blame him if he left for more overall money and a fresh start.
There is a glut of outfielders that need to be either playing full time in the Major Leagues or should not be sent down to the minors. The bottom line is there are more qualified players than available spots.
Yasiel Puig: He was originally one of my guys to move on from. However, unlike most of his teammates, he was pretty good in the playoffs. The question would be, what do the Dodgers want to do with him long term? He is a free agent after 2019 and big, muscular guys don’t age well. I honestly don’t know what the market would be for him. I’d like to see them avoid arbitration and sign him to a 3 year/$24-27 million contract. After that I expect some regression due to a lot of wear and tear on his legs.
Joc Pederson: He brings good value as he heads to arbitration this year. He’ll end up at $4-5 million for 2019. I hate that they never let him develop as a hitter to hit off of left handed pitchers. He’s also pretty much a left fielder only now. With so many strong outfield candidates that bat left handed, I could see Joc being traded. I’d also be afraid that, once he gets away from platoons, he really blossoms. For his sake a trade would help his career quite a bit.
Andrew Toles: When he went down with a knee injury in 2017, he was the left handed hitting part of a platoon in left field. A numbers game put him in AAA to start 2018 and then he pulled a muscle that delayed his recall to the MLB. He barely got many chances in 2018 so it feels like a wasted season. There is no reason for him to be in the minors so they should either make room for him or trade him.
Alex Verdugo: I believe the Dodgers need a bat like Verdugo’s in the lineup. He has an approach at the plate that is needed in the lineup. He can work the pitch count, adjusts to the situation and isn’t all or nothing. Another left handed hitting outfielder, he has an excellent arm and can play all three outfield positions. If they decide to platoon him right off the bat then that will damage his career. He should either start every day in 2019 or trade him now. I want him to be a full time starter in 2019 to have another multidimensional hitter in the lineup.
There are a lot of talented players on the Dodgers but some could benefit from a change of scenery. My concern is for the Dodgers but also for the career of the player. Most of the players written about seem to be a held back due to the amount of talent the Dodgers have. The philosophy of using almost a full 40 man roster and a versatile roster seems to hold some players back.
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