Free Agency Round Up (Pre Trade Deadline) Part 1 of 2: Catchers, Bullpen and Pitchers

There is no bigger litmus test for a club’s future then offseason free agency. A club can make the decision to part ways with a safe veteran option in order to roll the dice with on a hot new prospect (see Jimmy Rollins). Conversely, they may lack confidence in a prospect’s stage of development and opt to sign a short-term deal with a safe bet veteran (see Chase Utley).

Much of the options for free agency will be determined by moves the Dodgers and other clubs make before the Monday trade deadline. I will look into the coming offseason and analyze the possibilities and tough decisions the Dodgers may face this off season.

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With Dodgers Trade rumors swirling, let’s take a position by position look starting with catchers, bullpen and pitchers.

Catchers – 2016


Yasmani Grandal – Signed through 2018, Arbitration each year


AJ Ellis – Free Agent in 2017

Austin Barnes – Team Control through 2018, Arbitration through 2021

Top Free Agent Options

Jonathan Lucroy (Team Option)

Wilson Ramos

Matt Weiters

Top Minor League Options

Austin Barnes

Will Smith

Kyle Farmer


Catcher is a position that is going to require some tough decisions. The easiest of the decisions would be keeping Grandal as the starting catcher. He is a year removed from being an all-star and has a team friendly contract for the next couple of years.

The only other option that would make sense would be to package him in a trade for Lucroy. However, the cost in prospects may prevent this from being an option. The tough decision that would need to be made is what to do with AJ Ellis.

Ellis’s contribution to the clubhouse exceeds his contribution on the field. He has been kept on the roster as a serviceable back-up to Grandal, but his role as back-up has kept Austin Barnes from being more than just an injury/September call up. The team saw enough potential in Barnes to include him in the trade for Dee Gordon and it’s time to reap the benefits.

Second Half Prediction

The Dodgers will stand with Grandal. He has eight bombs in the last month and has really progressed from his early season struggles.

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Starting Pitcher – 2016


Clayton Kershaw (Injured) – Signed through 2020, Opt out after 2018

Brandon McCarthy – Signed through 2018, Club option for 2019

Scott Kazmir – Signed through 2018, Opt out after 2016

Kenta Maeda – Signed through 2023

Bud Norris – Free agent in 2017


Hyun-Jin Ryu (Injured) – Signed through 2018, Player opt out after 2017

Brett Anderson (Injured) – Free agent in 2017

Alex Wood (Injured) – Arbitration eligible through 2019

Top Free Agent Option

Andrew Cashner

Top Minor League Options

Julio Urias

Jose De Leon

Grant Holmes

Frankie Montas

Yadier Alvarez

Walker Buehler


One thing is for sure … If the Dodgers are going to boost their starting rotation, it is going to have to be done by trade. There are very slim pickings when it comes to starting pitching, and after considering the options available, I would prefer to bring up farm hands like Urias and De Leon.

Cashner is the only serviceable option I see, but he has been inconsistent at best this year.

Ideally, if there is no trade movement, I can see a starting rotation of Kershaw, McCarthy, Kazmir, Maeda, and Wood for the first half of the season. The second half should see Urias and Wood swap bullpen positions, in order to have the kid in time for a playoff run.

Second Half Prediction

I can see the Dodgers standing pat at the trade deadline when it comes to pitching. Sure you have Sale and Archer being talked about, but at what price? If these pitchers could be had for a sensible price, I would pull the trigger, but I don’t see that happening.

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Bullpen – 2016


Kenley Jansen – Free agent in 2017


Adam Libertore – Team control through 2018, Arbitration eligible through 2021

JP Howell – Free Agent in 2017

Pedro Baez – Team control through 2017, Arbitration eligible through 2020

Joe Blanton – Free agent in 2017

Luis Avilan – Arbitration eligible through 2018

Louis Coleman – Arbitration Eligible through 2018

Ross Stripling – Unknown

Top Free Agent Options

Santiago Casilla
Aroldis Chapman
Neftali Feliz
Kenley Jansen
Mark Melancon
Yusmeiro Petit
Sergio Romo
Brad Ziegler

Top Minor League Options

Julio Urias

Jacob Rhame

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The bullpen may be the area of the most urgency for the Dodgers. If the team is unable to resign Kenley Jansen, they better be sure they can get a Chapman or a Melancon. I also feel they should look to resign Blanton. His contributions this year have been huge.

If the Dodgers are able to resign Blanton and Jansen, the bullpen will remain stout. Libertore has become a reliable one inning arm, and Stripling has shown that he can handle multiple inning assignments. I think the addition of one strong arm in the bullpen would go a long way.

Brad Ziegler comes to mind because of his side arm delivery. He brings a different look into the ball game.

Second Half Prediction

The second half for the bullpen may be very telling. They have been dominant for the last few months, but with Kershaw out, they haven’t been able to get that consistent rest every five games that they have been used to.

The Dodgers run to be NL West Champs will rely heavily on the bullpen, and with the addition of Stripling recently, and Urias down the line, I feel we have a great chance even without the return of Kershaw.

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=””]NEXT: Free Agency Round Up (Pre Trade Deadline) Part 2 of 2: Infield, Outfield[/button]

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Written by Staff Writer


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  1. Kenley Jansen is a free agent in 2017, but he’s also currently listed as a top free agent for the trade deadline?

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