The departure of Trea Turner to the Phillies has left the Dodgers with a bit of a hole at shortstop, but it seems they won’t be filling that spot with top free agent option Carlos Correa. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the team is not pursuing the former Astro and Twin, in part due to his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing team of 2017 that beat the Dodgers in the World Series, and how that might upset a large portion of their fanbase.
The financial aspect of signing a player like Correa is playing a part too as the 28-year-old could command a deal in excess of $300MM. The Dodgers’ payroll is on track to be significantly lower than in 2022, and they certainly have the financial muscle to take on a contract like that, but they’re also waiting on whether or not Major League Baseball opts to uphold Trevor Bauer’s two-year suspension for violating the league’s policy on sexual assault and domestic violence.
Should the suspension be upheld, the Dodgers won’t owe anything to Bauer, but if it’s overturned or reduced the Dodgers will be on the hook for all or part of his salary. As Bill Shaikin of the LA Times notes, there’s $60MM of salary at stake, although that number could rise to as much as $100MM, as the Dodgers are a third-time luxury tax offender. As Rosenthal notes, it’s enough cost uncertainty for the Dodgers to be wary of adding significant payroll this winter.
The news that they’re not pursuing Correa doesn’t necessarily rule them out of spending on a shortstop, and although reports have indicated there’s momentum towards Xander Bogaerts returning to the Red Sox, the Dodgers have been connected with him earlier in the off-season. Dansby Swanson is the other top shortstop available, while lower profile options in free agency include Jose Iglesias and Elvis Andrus. Alternatively, they could just plug Gavin Lux in at shortstop and seek to replace the lost offense from Turner in other areas.
Such areas could include center field, as well as adding another middle-of-the-order bat and a starting pitcher. Rosenthal notes that the team is looking to rely more heavily on young, minimum salary players this year, and free agent additions would be more modestly priced, and cites Kevin Kiermaier and J.D. Martinez as options, while the team has been connected to Andrew McCutchen recently. The Dodgers do have the likes of Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch and Jacob Amaya on the roster all with less than a year of service time, and they could be candidates to see increased playing time next season.
For Correa, while having a big market team like the Dodgers involved in the bidding certainly doesn’t hurt negotiations, he’ll still find plenty of suitors. The Twins have been aggressive in trying to re-sign him, while the Cubs have already met with him at the Winter Meetings and have the payroll to take on a big, long-term contract. The Giants are also a team to watch now that they’ve missed out on Aaron Judge, as they too have the deep pockets and payroll space required to sign Correa to a lengthy contract.