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What Are the Dodgers’ Outfield Options Now?

Jun 2, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich (21) connects for a two run home run in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Just like that, within 24 hours, the Dodgers missed out on two key off-season targets. Shohei Otani signed with the Angels, and Giancarlo Stanton was traded to the Yankees. Arguably two very doable deals for the Dodgers have slipped through their fingers. In the aftermath of these two titanic transactions, Dodger fans are wondering, what now?  Who can the Dodgers target this off-season? Are any free agents, aside from the obvious re-signing Brandon Morrow, worth signing? Are there any trade targets left for the Dodgers to pursue?

Luckily, there still are unexpected options that could be explored to fill any roster holes. The outfield, mainly left-field, is one of the only arguable holes for the Dodgers. Center-field is set with Chris Taylor, and Yasiel Puig owns right-field. But left-field has no set starter as of yet for 2018. What then are the Dodgers’ options?

Free Agent Targets

In regards to the free agent class this season, there are only a small handful of appealing outfielders. JD Martinez, Lorenzo Cain, Jay Bruce, and Carlos Gomez are the only outfielders worth noting. Only Martinez would be worth considering, but his contract demands could become well out of our price range. Reports indicate he is seeking 7 years, at $210 million per Bob Nightingale:

At that rate the Dodgers will most certainly be passing on JD Martinez. As for Lorenzo Cain, the Dodgers likely would not pursue him because of the qualifying offer attached to him. Bruce and Gomez do not have qualifying offers, but neither seem like realistic options.

The free agent class for 2019-2020 is an entirely different story. Michael Brantley, Charlie Blackmon, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, and Bryce Harper are all free agents! Talk about having options! With $60+ million coming off the books next season, you can bet the Dodgers will be strongly considering Bryce Harper as an option. However, that is not until next season. The Dodgers could use an upgrade this season.

The Trade Market

Unfortunately Stanton is now on his way to donning pinstripes, rather than Dodger Blue. So with Stanton off the market, what options are there? Interestingly, the Marlins dangled Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna before Stanton left for the Yankees. Some reports indicate that they were doing so in order to force Stanton’s hand into accepting a trade, but it could be that the Marlins were just doing their due diligence. In any case, the Dodgers could inquire about both outfielder’s availability.

With Marcell Ozuna, you have a right-handed left-fielder that has pop and plays solid defense. His stat-line this year was his best yet: .312/.376/.548, 37 HR, 124 RBI’s. From left-field he has 11 defensive runs saved, and 10 outfield assists. Matt Swartz at MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $10.9 million in arbitration this year. If acquired the Dodgers would control him for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

In regards to what it would take to land him, it will likely be less than what it will take to acquire Christian Yelich. It will probably take at least two top 10 prospects, most likely starting with Alex Verdugo.

Christian Yelich is a more interesting name to consider. Though his stats this season were not as eye-popping, he is a year younger than Ozuna, and locked into a very team-friendly contract. His contract runs through 2021 at $43.25 remaining, with a $15 million option for 2022. He doesn’t have as much pop as Ozuna, but the team control, solid stats, and excellent defense make him a very appealing option. Not only that, but Yelich is a Southern California native. Born in Thousand Oaks, he graduated Westlake Village High School.

If the Dodgers could entice the Marlins with Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo, and say Jordan Sheffield and Trevor Oaks, they should definitely consider that! If it requires someone like Yadier Alvarez instead of Sheffield and Oaks, that could be considered as well.

In-House Options

This brings full circle to the in-house options. There are three main options to split the time: Joc Pederson, Kike Hernandez, and Andrew Toles (who will be returning from his knee injury).

Despite missing the season with a torn ACL, Dodger fans remember Andrew Toles fondly. He has speed that the lineup somewhat lacked, played solid defense, and was showing surprising pop before going down. Currently FanGraphs is projecting him for a 0.6 WAR, .275/.322/.436 triple-slash. Not superb, but definitely solid for only being projected for 182 plate appearances. Extend that to 500 plate appearances, and you are looking at a 1.65 WAR performance.

Next is Joc Pederson. How he has teased us over the last 3 years. From soaring heights in the first half of his rookie season, to injuries and sub-par performance in 2017, Joc has ridden the roller coaster in the MLB. FanGraphs currently projects him for a 1.6 WAR, .244/.355/.472 triple slash over 352 plate appearances. Very similar numbers that lead to his 3.6 WAR 2016. If he could sustain numbers like that in 2018 over the course of 600 plate appearances, the Dodgers have their left-fielder. The problem is that Joc and consistency have rarely gone together.

The last two in-house options are Kike Hernandez and Alex Verdugo. Hernandez is solid, but only really against lefties. Furthermore, he is better suited as the super-utility man on the roster. Alex Verdugo provides a great deal of intrigue given he is the #2 prospect in the system. His ability to make consistent contact, walk more than he strikes out, and his cannon arm all make him an ideal option. But, he is still 21 years old, and would need something akin to Bellinger’s circumstances in 2017 to take a chunk of the playing time from others ahead of him on the depth chart.

At this point there are multiple ways the Dodgers can approach the outfield situation in 2018. Will they explore a free agent? What about a trade? Or will they stay in-house to handle the outfield?

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Written by Blake Coble

Born and raised in SoCal and bled Blue my whole life. Absolutely love baseball and absolutely love the Boys in Blue! I have a fascination with analyzing the statistics and trends that drive player performance, and I love following our minor league prospects as well! Active duty Air Force currently stationed in Central California! Follow me on Twitter @yarritsblake

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  1. If Dodgers could pry Ozuna or Mccutcheon from Pittsburgh, fans would be satisfied. Starting pitcher Lynn would be great. Righty with champion pedigree. Then bullpen, Morrow or cishek. Saw him pitcher in Miami, closer experience. Then traded with Baltimore for the lefty or pickup Reed from Mets.could go back and get Watson.

  2. Move Taylor back to 2nd. Puig/ Toles/ Hernandez/ Verdugo/ Pederson should be good enough with lots of speed and provide lineup options.

    • One other possibility is that Gonzo comes to spring training healthy and hits like his old self, in which case Bellinger plays OF next year. I would still like the idea of moving Taylor back to 2B and making Forsythe a bench player.

    • Kelly,

      Good point about moving Chris back to second…but I think they should have considered that before re-signing Forsythe. But, to be fair, Forsythe played well in the postseason…the reason the boys lost the World Series can be put on Jansen blowing the save in Game 2, Kershaw blowing the lead in Game 4, and Darvish’s horrible starts…I like the idea of the front office trimming salary, this team is going to be competitive for years to come. I’m not upset about them passing on Stanton’s salary. I believed that the Dodgers should have traded Puig for Stanton in 2015…but who gets the Marlins’ job – Don Mattingly. I LOVE THE DODGERS! PEDRO GUERRERO #28 – BABY!

  3. I was kicking an absolute blockbuster with Miami around earlier today. The Dodgers would get Yelich (OF), 4-5 years and is a liftime .290 hitter with great defense and some speed. Castro is a lifetime .282 hitter who would take over at 2B and Prado now 34 and a career .291 hitter would be a bench player who can play decent defense at 3B, 2B and LF. This would reduce Miami payroll by about $31M in 2018 and about $37M in 2019 and $29M in 2020. The Dodgers would send players that would help Miami in the next year or two while they rebuild, but they would take some salary back as well. The Dodgers would send Forsythe ($8.5M only in 2018); McCarthy ($11.5M only in 2018); Ryu ($7.8M only in 2018). Also include would be minimum salary OFs Toles and Thompson and Utility man Segadin. This would pretty much keep the Dodgers salary where it is for 2018 and they could handle the future year increase with Gonzo and Kazmir coming off. There would be no more soft spots in the Dodger lineup and while Miami doesn’t get prospects, they get plug and play guys for lineup and rotation for next year. The Dodgers retain Pederson and Verdugo in OF in case Puig leaves after 2018. Prado earns $28.5M for the next two years which is substantial for a bench piece, but serves as incentive for Miami taking McCarthy, Forsythe and Ryu. Win-win. Dodger bench would have Grandal, Gonzo, Prado, Hernandez, Pederson. No platoons except catcher. Verdugo gets another year at AAA. Also opens up some roster spots.

    • Dodgers are not going to take Castro if it acquires Yelich, it will move Taylor to 2b and trade Forsythe to either the Mets, Angels, or Cardinals (to play 3b). Love to have Yelich, but he has a very team friendly contract so Marlins are not going to give him away just to dump the remainder of Prado’s contract ($28.5M). For Yelich alone the Marlins “might” take Joc Pederson and a young pitcher. And they might take back McCarthy’s $10M owed to get rid of Prado’s deal. Pederson, Kiké Hernandez, Trevor Oaks, and McCarthy for Yelich and Prado?

    • That is pretty ambitious , but there is no way that Miami takes on a bunch of big contracts for injury-prone people. They will want prospects for or Yelich, not “plug and play” guys.

    • Sounds good…Then again…Keep in mind if AGone does come back and shows 80 to 90% of his old self…he is at first base and our Rookie of the year is in the outfield…

  4. The Dodgers didn’t “miss out” on Stanton, they never wanted to take on a 10yr,25 mill per yr contract. And I agree with that. Why do that when you have such a good farm system?

  5. There is a FA RH hitting OF’er that may be of interest to Dodgers? Austin Jackson who plays all 3 OF positions and mashes LH pitching. Only 31 Jackson would make a nice 4th or 5th OF’er at a reasonable price. If Dodgers want to add a RH hitting OF’er by way of trade Steven Piscotty of the Cardinals would make a good corner OF’er who is signed to a reasonable contract (by today’s standards). Piscotty had a down year in 2017 likely related to his Mother’s diagnosis of ALS. Mom lives in Pleasanton, so getting to CA might be welcomed by Piscotty. Cardinal’s take back Logan Forsythe in return?

  6. The deal with Stanton makes the Yankees the over-whelming favorites to win it all next year. They could pitch all their duds and still win it all. They may have the most powerful offense ever put on the field.

  7. Gonzo needs to go. This talk about him at 80 or 90% is crazy. His bat is slow as well as his defense compared to Cody. And if he is on the bases it takes a double to score him from 2nd base.

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