On the possibility of re-signing free agent right-hander Yu Darvish, Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi admitted Saturday that “there would be some hurdles for us to add any significant contracts at this point” (via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, on Twitter). Zaidi didn’t specifically cite LA’s goal to stay under the $197MM luxury tax threshold, but Plunkett notes that the club doesn’t want to get any closer to the mark than it currently is. The Dodgers already have approximately $186MM committed to their 2018 roster. With Darvish seemingly poised to sign a contract worth in the neighborhood of $25MM per year sometime during this glacial offseason, a return to the reigning NL champs obviously looks unrealistic.
Here’s more on the Dodgers, courtesy of Plunkett unless otherwise noted:
- Darvish’s presence on the open market puts his future in question, and left-hander Clayton Kershaw could find himself in a similar position next winter if he opts out of his contract after the season. When discussing the option Friday, Kershaw said he’s focused on staying healthy in 2018, his age-30 season, and “everything will take care of itself from there.” While Kershaw is the game’s top pitcher when he’s available, back injuries limited him in both 2016 and ’17 – thus destroying his Cy Young chances in each campaign. Still, barring a disastrous 2018, it seems likely he’ll exit the final two years and $65MM of his contract in favor of securing a richer deal. Regardless of whether he hits the market in a year, Kershaw expects far more action in free agency than we’ve seen this winter – in part because teams intent on avoiding the tax (including the Dodgers) won’t have that same motivation.
- There’s mutual interest in a reunion between the Dodgers and free agent infielder Chase Utley, as Zaidi revealed that the two sides continue to “have conversations.” As a free agent last winter, Utley stayed on the market until late February before returning to the Dodgers for $2MM. He went on to provide solid bang for LA’s buck in his age-38 campaign, during which he hit .236/.324/.405 in 353 plate appearances.
- In an ideal world, the Dodgers would be able to dump outfielder Matt Kemp and his two-year, $43MM commitment on another club. Of course, they’ve had no luck in that department since acquiring the 33-year-old in an unusual, tax-geared trade with the Braves in December. Unless something changes by spring training, the Dodgers expect Kemp to be part of their left field competition, Zaidi informed reporters, including Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, Enrique Hernandez, Alex Verdugo and Trayce Thompson will join Kemp in vying for roles, Gurnick writes. Kemp has gotten into “great shape” this offseason, per Zaidi, who contends that “a motivated Matt Kemp can help a lot of teams in baseball, including us.” Kemp hasn’t been all that helpful to any club since 2014, when he slashed .287/.346/.506 in 599 PAs to conclude his first tenure with the Dodgers. Even then, though, Kemp’s well-known defensive limitations somewhat offset his contributions at the plate.