The Los Angeles Dodgers feel like they are going to at least look to make a splash this off-season. While the rumor on Monday has the team looking into pursuing shortstop Francisco Lindor, the rest of us are left wondering what that means for the incumbent shortstop.
Indeed, the elephant in the room is Corey Seager.
Personally, Seager is one of my all-time favorite Dodgers. It goes without saying, I would hate to see him wearing another uniform. However, I think the Dodgers are going to look into trading Seager this off-season. Furthermore, I believe the Dodgers could already have removed that ‘untouchable’ label on Seager for the first time.
In fact, I believe it’s quite possible that the Dodgers could be highlighting Seager as a marquee piece in a blockbuster trade this off-season.
— ???™? (@ThinkBlue47) October 21, 2019
Now, let’s take a look at the reasons – among many – that I believe you’re about to hear Corey Seager’s name in some trade rumors this winter.
Seager Likely Still Has High-Perceptive Value Around Baseball Circles
Amongst the Los Angeles fan base, Seager is still viewed (perhaps in biased sense) as an elite player. In reality, Seager has become merely a solid player entering his age-26 season. In 2019 – Seager tallied a 4.0 bWAR – which is solid. With that being said, it’s a far cry from the 5.9 and 5.7 bWAR seasons he put up in 2016 and 2017. Remember, we believed that was this young player only scratching the surface.
Truth be told, Seager has spent about two full years fending off one significant injury after another. This began before the 2017 World Series when he missed the entire NLCS. That’s a long time for a player not to be fully healthy. Also, if you watched Seager in 2019; it seemed like he never got comfortable.
What I noticed was him spoiling a high-degree of hitters’ pitches. In the first half of the year, I examined his batted-ball data; which showed he wasn’t barreling pitches like he has the rest of his career.
All of this led to a .272/.335/.483 slash line in a year where the juiced ball was marveled at. In short, it’s decent enough to say he did fine. Still, this was a slight step back from a middle-of-the-order masher he expected to develop into during his prime years. Now, here we are.
The take home message in this portion of the column is that if the Dodgers know due to injuries or any reason that Seager’s stock is higher in league circles than in the organization; there’s an opportunity to create a market for him.
Finally, the key variable that no one knows is if Seager’s stock has taken a hit internally within the Dodgers’ organization. To that I say it has.
Seager is a Scott Boras Client and Soon Due For a Raise
Indeed, Seager is a client of the famed super-agent Scott Boras. His salary was $4 million in 2019, and he will garner raises as he goes through the arbitration process for 2020 and 2021. Then, Seager will have his free agency if those years aren’t bought out via some type of contract extension. Therefore, two key points come up.
- Seager still has two years of affordable team control, for the Dodgers or someone else. Given his performance, this carries value.
- Without question, Boras will push for Seager to be paid amongst the game’s elite; somehow.
Let me ask you a question: do you think Boras is prepared to give the Dodgers any type of hometown discount? Fast forward to the winter following the 2021 regular season. It’s quite possible that Boras is still selling the virtues of Seager’s 2016 and 2017 near-elite seasons along with solid performances scattered throughout 2019 to 2021. Without a doubt, you will have 28-year old Seager and Scott Boras pushing for a six to eight or possibly ten year pact at around at least $300 million.
Because that’s what Boras does.
Surely, the Dodgers can expect this is coming. With other young players that will have extensions already on the way or being negotiated, would you give Seager a contract of that size?
You Have To Part With Something of Value to Gain Something of Value
Whether it be an elite pitcher to fill Hyun-Jin Ryu’s spot that isn’t a free agent, or a player like Lindor; the Dodgers will need to give up something of value. As we have seen in the past, teams aren’t just going to take Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling and give us one of their best trade assets. Therefore – to open up a door that was previously not thought to be open – Los Angeles would need to be willing to surprise with someone who was not previously made available.
If you follow the Dodgers closely, they have two options. First, they can remain mostly status quo and sign a few players after being outbid for Gerrit Cole and/or Anthony Rendon. Then, they can field the same core that has fallen short four straight seasons, of which Seager is a part of. Second, they can take one of those core members with complimentary pieces and flip it for an upgrade. It’s highly unlikely that they stand-pat and do nothing. To accomplish something, they will need to part with something of heavy value. If not Seager, then who?
Reading between the lines, I think the Dodgers are saying internally that they at least believe they can upgrade at the shorstop spot. The reasons listed above could just be a few of the items that have them leaning in this direction. However, they are only likely to do it if it’s someone truly in the ‘elite’ category. For example, how many shorstops are really in a class of Lindor and likely to be available in the first place? There would need to be a contingency plan in place at the position – and if the Dodgers aren’t somehow acquiring a new shorstop – there would need to be a large upgrade at another spot for them to part with Seager. You can speculate which players are worthy of that in the comments.
As I wrap up this column, this is based largely on watching Seager closely, reading between the lines, and the dangerous ‘gut feeling’. Still, as I look up on my wall and see the picture of Corey Seager hanging on the wall; I feel strongly that you will hear his name rumored about this winter.
In my game room. Only individual Dodger on my wall – for those who don’t know how much I love the Seager Boy. I don’t think I’ve ever posted this pic.twitter.com/ncQsPhZZgM
— Clint (@DiamondHoggers) October 8, 2019
Perhaps nothing ever comes of it, and he’s the shortstop in the two-hole come Opening Day 2020. Of course, that would be my choice if I had it in a perfect world. However, baseball organizations can’t operate on sentimentality forever. The reality of the baseball world is that our heroes are merely assets, and too many jobs and legacies ride on the line to wait for a player to breakthrough forever.
While you and I might feel in our hearts that an MVP year is coming again for Corey Seager, the key question is what the Dodgers feel. And the most important question is what needs to happen in order for them to make a splash without Seager, because the winds of change are blowing right now in Los Angeles.