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Following a World Series loss to the Houston Astros, the Dodgers will enter the 2018 season with the majority of their core intact. The NL West division competition won’t figure to get any easier, however, and the organization’s payroll obligations already exceed the luxury tax threshold, which will make it more complicated to patch holes through free agency. The good news is that they enter the winter with wealth in another area … their deep farm system.
- Clayton Kershaw: $98MM through 2020 (can opt out of contract following the 2018 season)
- Kenley Jansen: $66MM through 2021
- Justin Turner: $48MM through 2020
- Rich Hill: $34MM through 2019
- Adrian Gonzalez: $21.5MM through 2018
- Kenta Maeda: $18MM through 2023
- Scott Kazmir: $16MM through 2018
- Brandon McCarthy: $10MM through 2018
- Logan Forsythe: $8.5MM through 2018
- Yasiel Puig: $7.5MM through 2018 (under club control through 2019; eligible for arbitration following the 2018 season)
- Hyun-Jin Ryu: $7MM through 2018
Arbitration-Eligible Players (projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)
- Yasmani Grandal (5.115) – $7.7MM
- Luis Avilan (4.146) – $2.3MM
- Alex Wood (4.123) – $6.4MM
- Tony Cingrani (4.088) – $2.2MM
- Josh Fields (3.162) – $2.2MM
- Pedro Baez (3.059) – $1.5MM
- Enrique Hernandez (3.054) – $1.3MM
- Joc Pederson (3.022) – $2.0MM
- Yimi Garcia (3.004) – $700K
Other Financial Obligations
- $24.5MM to Yaisel Sierra through 2021
- $14MM to Hector Olivera through 2020
- $6.5MM to Erisbel Arruebarrena in 2018
- $5.5MM to Matt Kemp through 2019
- $2MM to Dian Toscano through 2019
- 2B Chase Utley, OF Andre Ethier, OF Curtis Granderson, OF Franklin Gutierrez, SP Yu Darvish, RP Brandon Morrow, RP Tony Watson
[Los Angeles Dodgers Depth Chart | Los Angeles Dodgers Payroll Outlook]
At the kickoff of last year’s offseason, reports surfaced that the Dodgers were under pressure from MLB to cut payroll, though CEO Stan Kasten insisted that it wasn’t a mandate. While there hasn’t been word of any similar pressure this winter, Los Angeles already has over $207MM in guaranteed commitments for 2018 before so much as even inquiring on any free agents. Forty million of those dollars are owed to a combination of Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir and a group of players who are no longer on the roster. While it’s probably not safe to expect the Dodgers to be stingy, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them shy away from long-term, high-risk contracts, especially with some notable extension candidates making up the core of the MLB roster and another wave of talent budding in the upper minors.
That minor-league system includes six players in MLB Pipeline’s top 100, four of whom are either at the Double-A or Triple-A level. Their top two prospects, Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo, could help at the major league level early in 2018. With that kind of farm system, it’s possible we could see the Dodgers swing a major trade. I already noted that they’d be an ideal fit in a hypothetical Marcell Ozuna trade with the Miami Marlins, and indeed it seems like they’re in play for Giancarlo Stanton to an extent as well (though certainly his contract is larger than anything it would take to sign any of this year’s free agents). On paper, it seems like Verdugo in particular would make the most sense as a trade chip, depending upon how the club views a deep set of outfielders, though it remains to be seen whether the Dodgers have any real interest in dealing him.
Speaking of Stanton, the Dodgers appear to be one of the best fits for his services. Not only are they one of the few teams with both the prospects and financial muscle to lure the NL MVP from Miami, but they may have an added advantage considering Stanton is an L.A. native. In fact, recent reports indicate that he’d approve a trade to the Dodgers; if he truly wants to land there, and the team is at least willing to offer enough to force the Marlins’ hand, then this could be a match. But it’s not presently clear just how much interest the Dodgers have and whether Stanton would push hard to go to one specific team.
The possibility of adding a big bat ties into a complicated picture on the position-player side. It seems probable that Gonzalez will take at least some of the time at first base to open the season, so as things stand currently, the Dodgers would enter 2018 with some combination of Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson in the outfield, with Enrique Hernandez likely to fill a backup role and Andrew Toles as a sort of dark horse for playing time. Of course, Gonzalez faded badly in an injury-riddled 2017 season, ending with a shockingly poor .242/.287/.355 slash line in just 252 plate appearances last year. If he can’t rebound to some semblance of his former self, the Dodgers might ultimately opt to cut him loose (and eat his enormous salary) in order to move Bellinger back to first. This concern could lead to L.A. signing a platoon partner for Gonzalez at first, or adding a cheap right-handed outfield option to their roster. From my point of view, however, it doesn’t make much sense for the Dodgers to mess around with the middle- and lower-tier options at those positions. Their roster is already crowded with many players of that type, so it might not be worth sacrificing a roster spot to add another part-time bat to the mix.
Logan Forsythe is currently listed at the top of the second base depth chart for the Dodgers, and it would be perfectly reasonable to open the season with him at the keystone. Justin Turner and Corey Seager are obvious locks for their positions, so it’s hard to imagine the Dodgers making any real changes to their infield. They could, however, explore some veteran backup options. It wouldn’t be a complete shock to see them re-sign Chase Utley. The Dodgers could probably use a lefty-hitting infielder, and the 39-year-old veteran fits the bill. Other options to hit from the left side include switch-hitters Erick Aybar and Jose Reyes, but the trade market could well hold more promising possibilities.
The back end of Dodgers’ rotation for the past couple of seasons has been a patchwork quilt of oft-injured hurlers who provide solid value when healthy. But the front end is absolutely dynamite; legend Clayton Kershaw will once again be the team’s opening day starter, while Rich Hill and Alex Wood are locks for the number two and three spots. Beyond that, things get a little murkier. Kenta Maeda was a lights-out relief pitcher in the playoffs, and although he’ll probably open the season in the Dodgers’ rotation, they could also opt to use him once again as a relief ace. Buehler will contribute in some capacity this season, but I’d put my money on the Dodgers sending him to Triple-A to open 2018. Julio Urias will probably return from injury at some point as well, though that will be much later in the year and he’ll be nursed back to health with quite a lot of caution. Beyond that, whether they sign a free agent pitcher or employ a wait-and-see approach with their brittle rotation depth seems like a coin flip.
If they do sign a free agent pitcher, a reunion with Yu Darvish seems plausible. Despite an implosion during the playoffs, Darvish was solid for the Dodgers overall and comes with an extensive track record of success. Beyond him, they could be in on Jake Arrieta, or attempt to trade for Chris Archer of the Rays or Michael Fulmer of the Tigers. With the kind of rotation depth the Dodgers have, it makes more sense for them to look at large upgrades rather than risky players like Andrew Cashner or Tyler Chatwood.
The Dodgers bullpen is largely in good shape. Tony Watson and Brandon Morrow are set to depart as free agents, but the dominant Kenley Jansen remains under contract as the team’s closer. Luis Avilan, Tony Cingrani, Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling and Josh Fields will all be back as well. Their rotation depth could bleed over into their bullpen, meaning one of Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-jin Ryu or Maeda could pitch in relief to start the season. With all this in mind, it seems as though the bullpen doesn’t need much help. It wouldn’t make much sense, then, to spend big money on Greg Holland or Wade Davis, but they’ll probably explore options from the next tier. A reunion with Morrow would make plenty of sense, and beyond him there are names like Bryan Shaw, Juan Nicasio and Mike Minor that could hold appeal.
What stands out most about the Dodgers organization is its depth of resources and the multitude of ways in which it could combine them. The team could acquire a big name trade target by moving assets at the minor league level or in the majors (Pederson or Yasmani Grandal come to mind), or it could throw a wad of cash at a free agent. The Dodgers will probably make a push for Shohei Ohtani, and landing the two-way star would mean yet more possibilities for corresponding roster tweaks. At the end of the day, it seems likely that they’ll make at least one significant acquisition, and probably more than that. Under Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi, the Dodgers have sought to build without simply relying on bringing in expensive veterans from outside the organization on long-term commitments. But after coming up just shy in the 2017 World Series following five-straight NL West titles, the desire to finally win it all could provide significant motivation to cash in financial and prospect capital and put a super team on the field.
What route Dodgers end up taking this winter is anybody’s guess. But we can safely presume that they won’t have a quiet offseason. They have loads of options and they’ll be exploring all of them. I expect the name “Dodgers” to pop up often in trade and free agent rumors, and I expect them to be at the epicenter when the dominoes start to fall.
Dodgers are the new Yankees of Baseball…let the bashing begin…
Except the Yankees win championships.
Not very many in this century…
More than the Dodgers.
We’re new… Friedman is just getting started
how much did they pay you to say that…
Yankees bought Sabathia, Tex and Burnett to win 1 championship. Dodgers never went on a spree like that with their current FO
Doesn’t matter…old or new they have spent so much that MLB warned them of their debt…the luxury tax is a deterrent but its seems now that really deosn’t matter….personally I believe the Dodgers shouldn’t even be allowed to be in on Ohtina or Stanton until they get under the Luxury tax
Ohtani wont bet a big contract. So basically its ok for the red sox or yankees to spend big but not the dodgers. lol ok sorry someone has mades the Yankees look like the Rays the past few years
anyone over the luxury tax shouldn’t be allowed to be in on him…I never said that the Red Sox or Yankees should be able to bid on him…if clubs go over the luxury tax they shouldn’t be allowed to be in on these guys
that is assinine the new bargaining agreement already penilizes big markets why should the amount you spend so you from signing some one for cheep. if you want a salary cap that’s one thing but banning then from signing a player is just plain stupid
Thats not how the CBA works. A team can have a billion dollar payroll as long as they pay their luxury tax. Theres no salary cap. Teams can spend what they want. That would be ridiculous to tell teams who they cant bid on
Are you saying you want a salary cap in the MLB or a salary cap just for the Dodgers?
Why are you worrying about that? They are paying for it right? I detect a little bit of jealousy
It’s not just the tax they’ll pay. Their payroll also determines the draft. If they have too high of a payroll, their spot gets moved down 30 spots. Best record in baseball last season. The Dodgers wouldn’t make their first pick until the end of the second round.
And the Dodgers inherited a multi div winner
Nice job turning this story about the Dodgers into yet another Yankees discussion. Well done.
I think the mgmt needs to pull the trigger for Stanton.
I think that would be a bad move for the Dodgers considering their young talent Ang Kershaws opt out clause. They are clearly good enough to get to the WS so I don’t think they need to go all in on s panic move and trade for Stanton. Another full year of Bellinger should help out. Win now (since you are set up for it) but stay competitive for the future.
Stanton will get his way to LA some how even if it’s a 3 way trade
No way Friedman takes on a 10 year contract. He hasn’t given out one for more than 5 years $80 million since he took over and he doesn’t want to get stuck with paying the last 5 years of Stanton’s deal.
Friedman also hasn’t been presented with the possibility of trading for a top 5 talent in MLB. Friedman knows that with the contracts Harper/Machado and not long after Trout get are going to make the Stanton contract look really appealing.
I think it would be a bad move they have the core they should give it another shot
First thought is they would never take on that huge, risky contract. But second thought, they just might. A year ago, management was pretty cavalier about the early exit from the postseason. We’re proud of what we accomplished this year, blah, blah. A lot of fans who’ve gone through decades of coming up short were livid. This year I believe management feels just as gut-punched as the fans. Well, they ought to feel that way. They’ve run out of excuses, basically, and I think they know it. The motivation factor is impossible to quantify, but it’s there, and it might push them over a line they wouldn’t otherwise jump.
all in ad
Go get Stanton. Send Puig and whatever it takes. Go for it now!
If there were a deal, there’s no way the Marlins would be interested in Puig. Buehler and Verdugo would be up their alley.
I know I wish Dodgers fans would stop mentioning Puig
If you were a GM, and you wanted Stanton, it wouldn’t be smart to offer more than you have to. You don’t need to trade someone as valuable as Puig to get Stanton. That isn’t the way good deals, or fair deals are done.
That would be a Marlins eating a good chunk of his contract kind of package if you’re including Buehler and/or Verdugo
I doubt the Dodgers will trade Buehler and might only consider Verdugo because of their glut of outfielders. Since Friedman took over they’ve resisted trading their top prospects and it’s worked out incredibly well for them. They believe they know how to develop players. I was just expressing that if it were “whatever it takes” that’s who the Marlins would want.
I don’t know how much of the contract their willing to eat but I’d guess it’s minimal in the first three years. Probably more willing after they get the new TV deal.
On this board fans decide who they don’t want, in this case Puig, and decide the Marlins will take that player as part of the package. I’d guess that money saving, in the first three years, is the primary goal with the return being 1a. Of course they’ll want both. But if people here are making a package they shouldn’t include expensive players within two years of free agency.
the whole point of Stanton is that it won’t take too prospects unless the fish eat 75 million they aren’t getting those two
I would imagine the issue with Ohtani for any NL team is how to use him when he’s not pitching. He could be your DH for American League road games and your primary pinch-hitter. I suppose you could use him as a late-inning ‘defensive’ replacement and get him a couple of ABs if needed. But would you risk injury by starting him in the field a day or two a week?
he would be great advantage on days he pitches tho
I wouldn’t touch Stanton’s contract. Hopefully the Dodgers learned from the Pujols albatross contract down the 5 freeway. I’d sign Otani and Morrow, trade for Yelich and Gordon and kick it with the homies the rest of the offseason.
There is a big difference between Stanton and Pujols and that’s age. The Angels signed Pujols for his age 32-41 seasons, while Stanton would be in his age 28-37 seasons. Those 4 seasons from age 28-31 instead of 38-41 seasons are a huge difference. Pujols has posted 40 WAR from his age 28-37 seasons, That same $240 million contract he signed would have returned $260 million in value and been a positive for the team if he gave them 40 WAR at 2008’s $6.5mm/WAR and even more value when you consider that 1 WAR has now surpassed $8mm.
prime Pujols Is also way better than Stanton
Haha they aren’t trading for Gordon.
Dodgers front office really dislikes Gordon as a player. He is never coming back.
Come on friedman i really like most of the moves you make but Kamzir McCarthy and Yasiel Sierra was basically flushing 120 million down the toilet
can’t believe Kazmir is getting paid 16 million.
Probably he can’t believe it either.
what a great country…
Stanton and $50 M paid over five years for Verdugo and Stewart , Sign Ohtani and Addison Reed and call it an off season…
As I recall, Puig and Mattingly did not work well. I don’t think a trade sending Puig to Marlins is probable at all.
This is true too, but the biggest reason why it isn’t probable is because it makes no sense.
Don and Puig definitely is a poor match, though the bigger issue is that Puig is only controlled for two more years, and the Marlins being the Marlins would want more control over young talent.
Well he’s actually only control until this year.
Puig is FA after 2019. He can opt into arbitration after this year, but he’ll still play for the Dodgers for two more years.
am I the only dodgers fan that had no interest in the Stanton contract
Stanton controls where he wants to go. Since the Marlins have signaled that have to move him, Stanton is in the driver’s seat. If he wants to go to the Dodgers, then they can force the Marlins to pay a much bigger chunk of his contract than if there wasn’t a No-Trade clause to be waived by Stanton.
Would Stanton make the Dodgers better? duh, but at what cost? who do they have to give up or not sign?
hard to see Joc Pedersen figuring it out at this point. his approach is an on/off switch, with no adjustments. occasionally he will barrel one up but even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile. trade him now to a team that thinks they can fix it
Hard to find a good CF with that kind of power bat. Even though his AVG is low, teams will be interested. I agree with selling while his value is high since we have CT3, Toles and Verdugo for CF. Those 3 are everyday players, we need Jocs roster spot but we should get a nice return for it.
Taylor to the keystone and he becomes top 10 2B in the game. Sign Cain and you would have 4 OF’s who can play all 3 spots.
Obviously, our biggest need, aside from resigning Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson (or trading for Zach Britton, signing Jake McGee, Mike Minor, or fiery righty Anthony Swarzak or Trevor Cahill), is a number two starter. I don’t think signing a starting pitcher would be the best thing for our payroll, but we could certainly improve through the trade market. While we’ve been connected to Archer in the past due to Friedman’s time in Tampa Bay, we could do well looking north of the border… Marcus Stroman. Big game pitcher who has been an innings pitcher the last couple of years, he thrived at Dodger Stadium during the WBC Championship (I was there to see him live and he was as electric as the best of them), and of couse could be the ace of many ballclubs. He’s not a free agent til 2021, and is only 26 years old. Trade proposals anyone, but I’m gonna throw out some players. I think the trade centers around Andrew Toles, because the Blue Jays need speed and a corner outfielder. While I like Toles, we won a lot last year without his help, but I think he has the potential to be an all-star a couple of times. Of course, to trade for a pitcher, we have to include a pitcher, and I say why not Scott Kazmir while eating most if not all of his salary. Blue Jays probably won’t take him but why not try? We could also add a pitching prospect that doesn’t include Julio (though I don’t he counts as a prospect anymore), Buehler, or Yadier Álvarez, such as Trevor Oaks, Mitchell White, Wilmer Font, or even Brock Stewart. Or we could include a bullpen piece such as Luís Avilán, Josh Fields, or even Ross Stripling. Aside from the pitchers (relief or starting), one final piece could be a power bat, such as Trayce Thompson, Rob Segedin, Yusniel Diaz, or DJ Peters (most to least likely to depart). Heck, we can even include Yasmani Grandal and we get back Russell Martin (though this one’s just a laugher!) Anyways, just some names throwing out there. Who do you think can get us Marcus Stroman?