Since the 2019 season ended, much has been made about Corey Seager’s subpar, return-from-injury season. This has led fans and sports analysts to project him being traded for an upgrade at shortstop. Though options are available for an “upgrade”, the Dodgers should wait and give Seager another year to right the ship.
Corey Seager was initially called up for the 2015 September roster expansions. In those 27 games he hit 4 home runs, 17 RBIs and slashed .337/.425/.561. The following season Seager became the everyday shortstop for the Dodgers. Picking up right where he left off in 2015, Seager hit 26 home runs, 72 RBIs while slashing .308/.365/.512. His impressive debut season earned him All-Star, Silver Slugger, and National League Rookie of the Year honors. Seager saw a slight regression in his 2017 season but was still solid, hitting 22 home runs and 77 RBIs while slashing .295/.375/.479. For the second consecutive year, he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger award winner.
In 2018, Corey Seager appeared in just 26 games. He hit .267 with 2 home runs and 13 RBIs before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He would miss the remainder of the season recovering. Further adding to that recovery, Seager also had a late-season arthroscopic surgery on his left hip.
Dodgers announce Corey Seager will have hip surgery while recovering from Tommy John surgery, should be back by spring training pic.twitter.com/FwJN6gwQyw
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) August 7, 2018
In 2019, Corey Seager continued his extended recovery. He did not play his first spring training game until March 20th, just 8 days before the Opening Day. After a slow first 7 games in which he bottomed out hitting .130/.286/.261, he managed to knock the rust off. On June 11th, Corey Seager strained his left hamstring in the 9th inning of a Freeway Series game against the Angels. The injury came at a time when Seager seemed to really be hitting his stride. In the 10 games prior to the injury, Seager had been on a tear. In those 43 plate appearances, he had been hitting .425/.465/.675 with 7 doubles, a home run, and 9 RBIs, raising his batting average from .245 to .278.
April was Corey Seager's spring training . . . . he's starting to look good right now! https://t.co/xFWflhlBDU
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) June 7, 2019
After returning to action a month later, Seager’s batting average yo-yoed up and down. It bottomed out at .259 on September 12th. He then closed the regular season on another hot streak in which he went 19-48 (.396) with 5 doubles, 3 home runs, and 13 RBIs over his final 13 games. Ultimately Seager finished with a respectable .272/.335/.483 slash line to go with 44 doubles (tied most in the NL), 19 home runs, and 87 RBIs.
Free Agent/Trade Rumors
The Dodgers have made it known that they wish to add some right-handed power before the 2020 season. Free agent third basemen, Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson have been rumored targets along with a potential trade with the Cleveland Indians for shortstop, Francisco Lindor. If the Dodgers were to acquire one those third basemen, Justin Turner has already been vocal about his willingness to move to first. If the Dodger’s were to acquire Lindor without moving Seager, there’s thought that he could shift to third and Turner to first. More likely however, is that Seager would be part of the package to acquire Lindor.
Seager > Lindor
Was Lindor better in 2019 than Seager? Absolutely. Enough to merit giving up on Seager? No. Among the shortstops who record 500+ plate appearances, Corey Seager ranked 15th or better in most offensive categories even though he had less plate appearances than 20 others. This includes top-10 in 2Bs (2nd), RBIs (5th), and BB/K (10th).
Corey Seager (SS) and Max Muncy (2B) were finalists (top 3) at their positions. https://t.co/rCVGgPdgcB
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) November 8, 2019
Most players do off-season work to keep their good swing habits and arms in shape. Seager wasn’t completely ready at the start of spring training, let alone able to work on his swing prior to that. Given that information, Seager’s offensive production could’ve been better if he wasn’t actively trying to regain his swing during the regular season, only to have his progress disrupted by a midseason injury. In fact, all things considered, his offensive production is actually quite impressive. Dodger fans saw a Seager that had two significant surgeries and hadn’t played in a game for nearly a year, put up very solid numbers.
Unless the Dodgers plan to acquire Lindor and KEEP Seager, they need to focus on one of those aforementioned third basemen for their right-handed power needs. Giving up Seager and prospects for Francisco Lindor, who’s estimated arbitration salary is also expected to be more than double what Seager’s expected, is not beneficial at this point in time. Not when Seager’s potential upside is too great. Despite his classic offensive production, Justin Turner has lost a step at the “hot corner”. Third base needs to be the focus of the Dodgers especially when you have Jeter Downs coming down the pipeline to replace Seager if he can’t get back to his 2017 self.