- According to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Tony Gonsolin’s return is “a ways away for me with where he’s at.” Roberts told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register and other reporters that Gonsolin had yet to begin a throwing program since being placed on the 10-day injured list last Sunday. Gonsolin is sidelined with shoulder inflammation that began to bother the right-hander around Opening Day, which was why he didn’t get any game action prior to his IL placement.
Josh Donaldson ran the bases well enough progress to the next portion of his rehab, suggesting a return to the Twins as early as Monday or Tuesday, per Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com (via Twitter). When Donaldson does return, he’ll put his perfect season on the line. He doubled in his only plate appearance of the season before straining his hamstring. Luis Arraez, however, has maintained the potency of the hot corner while Donaldson’s been away. Arraez has slashed .381/.462/.571 while starting six of the seven games since the injury. Willians Astudillo started on Arraez’s day off, going 0-2 while driving in a run with a sac fly. Elsewhere…
- Braves setup man Chris Martin will be eligible to come off the injured list on April 17th, but manager Brian Snitker doesn’t think it will be that simple, per Mark Bowman of MLB.com (via Twitter). Martin’s shoulder only recently became an area of concern. Still, Martin is looking at a longer-than-minimal stay on the injured list. In the meantime, Sean Newcomb and Jacob Webb will have the opportunity to raise their stock in the Atlanta pen, per the Athletic’s David O’Brien (via Twitter). Webb from the right side and Newcomb from the left will try to soak up some of Martin’s setup duties.
- Brusdar Graterol is readying to make his season debut. Per Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter), Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “Everything looked good, so we’re trying to figure out the next step. We’re hoping to get him back soon. Just hesitant to put a day on it.” Graterol got a late start in preparing for the season, leaving Blake Treinen, Corey Knebel, and Kenley Jansen as the late-game righties available to Roberts. The Dodgers have high hopes that the 22-year-old Graterol can be weaponized either as a traditional setup man or as a multi-inning option out of the pen.
The Dodgers announced that right-hander Ashton Goudeau has been claimed off waivers from the Giants. Goudeau was designated for assignment by San Francisco earlier this week.
In less than five months’ time, Goudeau has now been a member of five different organizations. After making his MLB debut with the Rockies last season, Goudeau went to the Pirates, Orioles, Giants, and now the Dodgers in a series of waiver claims. The 28-year-old has also previously pitched in the Mariners and Royals farm systems during a pro career that began when the Royals selected Goudeau in the 27th round of the 2012 draft.
Over 563 2/3 innings in the minors, Goudeau has started 70 of 171 games and posted a 4.81 ERA, 20.44% strikeout rate, and 6.23% walk rate. His first taste of Major League action resulted in a 7.56 ERA over 8 1/3 innings over four appearances with Colorado in 2020.
The Dodgers announced they’ve placed Cody Bellinger on the 10-day injured list with a left calf contusion, retroactive to April 6. Corner outfielder/first baseman Luke Raley has been recalled from the alternate training site in a corresponding move.
Bellinger has been nursing a calf injury since Monday, when he was unintentionally stepped on by Athletics reliever Reymin Guduan in a race to first base. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said Bellinger has been able to jog in the past couple days and is making “steady but not significant improvement” (via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register). It doesn’t seem as if the team’s overly concerned about a potential long-term absence. Bellinger will first be eligible to return April 16.
Raley now has an opportunity to make his major league debut. The Dodgers drafted the left-handed hitter in the seventh round in 2016 but traded him to the Twins in the 2018 Brian Dozier deal. L.A. reacquired Raley last winter as part of the return for Kenta Maeda. The 26-year-old has hit well in limited Triple-A playing time and slashed .275/.350/.471 over 551 career plate appearances at Double-A.
10:41pm: If the league attempts to punish Bauer, the union “would challenge any discipline not covered under current rules,” Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
8:09pm: Major League Baseball announced last month that it plans to crack down on pitchers doctoring baseballs. Now, one of the game’s highest-profile pitchers, Dodgers right-hander Trevor Bauer, is under the league’s microscope, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports.
Bauer started against the Athletics on Wednesday, when he yielded two earned runs on 10 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. The umpires from that game have since collected multiple “suspicious baseballs” that Bauer threw, according to Rosenthal, who writes that they “had visible markings and were sticky.” As Rosenthal notes, though, the league may not be able to prove whether it was Bauer who doctored the ball, so it’s unclear whether it will discipline him.
Of course, the fact that the league’s looking at Bauer is especially intriguing when considering some of the past comments the outspoken 30-year-old has made in regards to potential cheating. He accused Astros pitchers of using illegal means in 2018 in an effort to increase their spin rate, and he then called the team “hypocrites” and “cheaters” last year.
Bauer had a career campaign in 2020 as a member of the Reds, with whom he won the National Cy Young, before signing a three-year, $102MM guarantee with the Dodgers in free agency. The returns so far have been promising, as Bauer has posted 20 strikeouts against three walks while giving up six runs on six hits in 13 innings, though this latest development is unwelcome for him and the Dodgers.
Cody Bellinger could be headed to the injured list, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). He was held out of Wednesday’s game with a sore calf and last saw game action in Monday’s 10-3 victory in Oakland. Mookie Betts played centerfield in his place on Tuesday night, but the reigning MVP runner-up was out for Wednesday’s game with a stiff lower back. Betts could return for Friday’s home opener, however. Still, it might be prudent for manager Dave Roberts to keep Betts in right field for the time being. That would mean more time in center for Chris Taylor. AJ Pollock didn’t see any time in center last season, but he does have eight years of Major League experience at the position. Elsewhere in the west…
- Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo is moving southpaw Caleb Smith to the bullpen, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). It’s not yet clear who will take Smith’s spot in the rotation. Zac Gallen is on the mend, but he won’t quite be ready in time for Smith’s turn on Saturday. Taylor Widener lines up for Friday’s game, while Luke Weaver will pitch on Sunday. If they go with a bullpen game, both Alex Young and Taylor Clarke are already in the bullpen and capable of bulk innings. Smith, of course, would also be available out of the bullpen. He gave up three earned runs on five hits and three walks in three innings on April 3rd, his only start of the season.
- The Rangers had other offers for Rougned Odor beyond the deal they accepted from the Yankees. Other offers had more favorable financial terms, but the Rangers prioritized adding talent, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). Fangraphs had Antonio Cabello as the Yankees’ 23rd-ranked prospect prior to the trade, while Josh Stowers was listed in the “Realistic Bench Pieces” section.
Prior to today’s game, the Dodgers placed righty Tony Gonsolin on the 10-day injured list due to inflammation in his throwing shoulder. The placement was retroactive to April 1. Right-hander Dennis Santana was called up from the alternate training site to take Gonsolin’s spot on the active roster.
Manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times) that Gonsolin has been dealing with the shoulder problem “the last few days,” which explains why Gonsolin has yet to make his 2021 debut. Gonsolin had been ticketed for a multi-inning bullpen role to begin the season, though given the Dodgers’ penchant for managing pitchers and the right-hander’s own track record over his short MLB career, Gonsolin is likely in line to receive some proper starts as the year goes along.
Gonsolin has a 2.60 ERA/4.11 SIERA over 86 2/3 innings as a big leaguer, starting 14 of his 20 career games over the 2019-20 seasons. He also started both Game 2 and Game 6 of the World Series last fall, though both of his outings were essentially bullpen games as the Dodgers mixed and matched pitchers throughout the Fall Classic. With generally above-average career metrics, the 26-year-old Gonsolin would likely be seen as promising rotation building block on a team that wasn’t so deep in pitching, and it’s possible the Dodgers might still use him in a more traditional starter role down the road.
The World Series champions added the National League Cy Young winner to their already-stacked rotation. What else is there to say: They’re ready to defend their title.
Major League Signings
- Trevor Bauer, RHP: Three years, $102MM guaranteed (opt-out after year 1 and year 2, $40MM in ’21, $45MM in ’22)
- Tommy Kahnle, RHP: Two years, $4.75MM guaranteed ($750K in incentives)
- Justin Turner, 3B: Two years, $34MM ($14MM team option for 2023)
- Blake Treinen, RHP: Two years, $17.5MM guaranteed ($8MM team option with $1.5MM buyout in ’23)
- Total spend: $158.25
Trades and Claims
- Acquired 3B Sheldon Neuse and RHP Gus Varland from the A’s for LHP Adam Kolarek and OF Cody Thomas
- Acquired RHP Jhan Zambrano from Rangers for RHP Josh Sborz
- Acquired RHP Kyle Hurt and LHP Alex Vesia from the Marlins for RHP Dylan Floro
- Acquired LHP Garrett Cleavinger from Phillies as part of three-team trade that sent LHP Jose Alvarado from the Rays to the Phillies and 1B Dillon Paulson, a PTBNL or cash considerations from the Dodgers to the Rays.
- Acquired RHP Corey Knebel from the Brewers for LHP Leo Crawford
Notable Minor League Signings
- Matt Davidson, Andy Burns, Rangel Ravelo, Enny Romero, Elliot Soto, Tim Federowicz, Brandon Morrow, James Pazos, Jimmy Nelson, Mike Kickham
Contemporaneous with Willy Adames being called out on strikes to seal the 2020 World Series, the Dodgers became the heavy favorites to repeat. That early in the offseason – literally seconds – the current champ almost has to be favored, but it was especially true of these Dodgers. After eight years of playoff blah-ness, they finally put the narrative of their postseason failures to rest. Thus began a new era of Dodger baseball.
What’s more, after eight consecutive division titles, one would think they snagged their 2020 rings in a last-gasp effort to validate an aging core. Au contraire: Somehow, they feel more like a team on the rise. Mookie Betts is entering just his second season with the team and the first of a 12-year mega-contract. The roster boasts an enviable collection of under-27 playmakers in Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Corey Seager, Julio Urias, Will Smith, Brusdar Graterol, Dustin May, Gavin Lux, and Tony Gonsolin. Even if we turn to the farm, there are reinforcements for the coming years on the way in Keibert Ruiz, Jacob Amaya, Josiah Gray, Michael Busch, Kody Hoese, Andy Pages, Ryan Pepiot, and whatever other scrap-heap pick-up they turn into their next Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, or Max Muncy (cough Sheldon Neuse cough).
Much has changed in the months since their ascent to the peak of MLB’s hierarchy. Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove now live in their division, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco are New York Mets, even the baseball itself is different. But one thing hasn’t changed: the Dodgers are still the favorites. Vegas has the Dodgers at +350, and they’re the overwhelming favorite pick among pundits.
Yet, it was largely a quiet winter for President of Baseball Ops Andrew Friedman. By the time February rolled around, the only free agent he’d signed to a Major League deal was Tommy Kahnle, who will likely miss all of next season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Eventually, however, the Dodgers would step into the spotlight and flex their considerable financial might. They made their big splash in signing Trevor Bauer to a hefty, and yet relatively low-risk three-year deal that’s meant to maximize their current window without overburdening their long-term payroll. Though it took awhile to consummate, ultimately, Bauer in Hollywood was really the only way to appropriately end the polarizing righty’s much-publicized free agency.
For the Dodgers, the deal pushed them into tax payor territory for the first time since 2017. That’s notable mostly because teams have become so tax-averse in recent seasons, though for a team with resources like the Dodgers, it’s hardly a significant development.
The re-signing of franchise icon Justin Turner further pushed them into tax territory. Bringing back Turner on a two-year, $34MM deal pushes the Dodgers past the second tax threshold, meaning that every dollar on the payroll beyond $250MM gets a 62.5% tax. As of now, Cot’s Contracts has the payroll at $262MM, fairly well past that second tax line. If the Dodgers stay over this line for the entire season, they will also have their highest draft pick in 2022 moved back ten spaces. Does that matter? Sure, but not as much as Turner and Bauer helping their title chances.
While Friedman opened up the checkbook this offseason in flashier fashion than is his custom, he also did so in smaller, more Friedman-ian ways. By signing arbitration-eligible players Barnes and Buehler to two-year deals, the Dodgers don’t gain any extra control, but they do get some cost certainty. Barnes signed for two-years, $4.3MM with an additional $400K on the table in incentives based on games played, while Buehler signed for a reasonable two-years, $8MM with a number of baked-in escalators based on the number of games started and where he finishes in Cy Young voting. Buehler will have two more seasons of arbitration eligibility after this deal expires.
The Dodgers said goodbye to a number of long-term pieces, too. Joc Pederson played 748 games as a Dodger, Kiké Hernandez 648 games, Alex Wood appeared in 95 games (only 9 this time around), Adam Kolarek made 46 masterful appearances over two seasons, Floro leaves after 104 appearances since his arrival in mid-2018, Terrance Gore never became a factor, Jake McGee gave them a solid 24 outings plus four more in the playoffs, and Pedro Baez departs after 355 games over seven remarkably steady seasons in the bullpen. The total contribution of those eight departing players amounted to 2.1 bWAR (5.67 bWAR when extrapolated to 162 games). Strictly speaking, Bauer could replenish that supply on his own.
Positionally, the Dodgers hope that Gavin Lux will end up taking many of the at-bats left behind by Hernandez and Pederson. Taylor will remain as their ninth position player. Matt Beaty or Neuse – acquired from the A’s – could get an opportunity to backfill the tail end of the roster. The positional flexibility of Taylor, Beaty, and Neuse will help account for any unforeseen injury pretty much anywhere on the diamond except catcher, where the Dodgers have another highly-regarded prospect in Ruiz waiting in the wings.
The most substantive difference between the 2020 Dodgers and the 2021 Dodgers comes on the pitching side. In the rotation, Bauer is the newcomer alongside returning heroes Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, May and Urias. May somewhat surprisingly won the fifth starter’s job, sending veteran David Price to the pen along with Gonsolin, their other primary depth option. That’s seven quality arms that they can turn to throughout the season to soak up chunk innings. Beyond those seven there is a drop-off, but Jimmy Nelson made the roster, and he’s another former starter who will be in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
The bullpen itself is the unit that will look the most different after losing recent mainstays like Baez and Floro. The Kahnle signing might help, but not until 2022. For this season, bringing back Blake Treinen was huge for this team considering the little bit of uncertainty surrounding Kenley Jansen. Jansen is the longest-tenured Dodger after Kershaw, and tales of his demise may be slightly overblown. Despite his struggles, he still finished 2020 with 11 saves in 27 games with a 3.33 ERA/3.03 FIP. His velocity is down, but his batted ball numbers from the regular season were still excellent. Regardless, Treinen was a solid understudy during the playoffs, and he has experience closing games. Graterol’s slow start to the season paired with Joe Kelly being on the injured list has made Treinen all the more critical.
Corey Knebel is the third piece that could prove instrumental to preserving wins. Though he missed all of 2019 and posted just a 6.08 ERA/6.64 FIP, the Dodgers got him before the Brewers were going to DFA him, so the cost was minimal. Prior to his injury, Knebel owned a 3.15 ERA/3.11 FIP over 223 innings with 57 saves. His velocity didn’t come all the way back in 2020, but his curveball was money. He may need to devise a new approach, but he’s an interesting gamble for a somewhat-diminished bullpen.
All told, Bauer’s addition to Kershaw and Buehler at the top of the rotation was the impact move. The roster was already in such good shape, however, that not much else needed to be done to stay ahead of the rapidly-rising Padres.
How would you grade the Dodgers’ offseason? (Link to poll for Trade Rumors iOS/Android app users)
Brusdar Graterol’s placement on the 60-day injured list was either a procedural move or incorrect, depending on who you ask, but the Dodgers’ right-hander does plan on returning to the field in less than 60 days. His delayed debut this season is “related to COVID from the past,” per Jorge Castillo of the LA Times. It’s a peculiar situation surrounding the flame-throwing Venezuelan. He’s not hurt, simply behind. He didn’t begin throwing this spring until late in March, and he’s still working himself into game shape. Let’s make the rounds to see how other arms are progressing out west…
- Extension negotiations with Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa have drawn plenty of headlines in recent days. Things have been rather quiet regarding another impending free agent star shortstop, Corey Seager. The Dodgers did make some effort to work out a long-term deal with Seager this spring, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). Those discussions apparently didn’t get very far, as Heyman notes Seager “will enter the (regular) season without an extension.”