- The Dodgers have a minors pact with switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, as SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Venditte, 32, is a unique and perhaps under-appreciated artist who is able to create his own preferred platoon match-ups by pitching with both arms. He owns only a 4.97 ERA in his 50 2/3 MLB frames. But Venditte ran up 69 2/3 inning of 3.36 ERA ball with 8.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 at the Triple-A level last year with the Phillies organization.
Though Shohei Ohtani has not even yet been officially posted — that’s expected as soon as Friday — the supreme young talent is drawing plenty of attention from MLB organizations. Those clubs received a memorandum over the weekend asking them to provide information to Ohtani and his representatives on a variety of subjects, which is only the beginning of a highly unusual and utterly fascinating recruitment process.
Here’s the latest:
- Though Ohtani is limited to a signing bonus and a minor league contract in coming to the Major Leagues, he stands to earn substantially more through marketing endorsements, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Marketing agents have predicted to Nightengale that between endorsements back in Japan and in the United States, Ohtani could command north of $20MM annually. That’d make him MLB’s highest-paid player in terms of off-the-field revenue.
- Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic spoke to agent Scott Boras (who was in the running to represent Ohtani before Ohtani signed CAA and Nez Balelo) as well as MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem about Ohtani’s earning capacity. Unsurprisingly, Boras offered sharp criticism of a system that won’t allow Ohtani to top a $3.535MM signing bonus at this point. “He is precocious, greatness cast adrift, forced into the MLB lifeboat,” said the always colorful Boras. “And his admission is handcuffs that prevent him from getting at least what his older, lesser valued peers received—in Tanaka’s case, more than $150 million.” Halem, as one would expect, wholly disagreed with Boras’ notions, pointing out that it was Ohtani who passed on the chance to sign with MLB clubs as an amateur out of high school, which could have jump-started his earning potential. And, it was Ohtani who asked to be posted as an amateur just two years before he could have been posted as a professional. The free column has quite a few quotes from both Boras and Halem on the matter and is well worth a full look.
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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
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.
The Giancarlo Stanton trade saga has been one of the top storylines of the offseason, and there’s no end in sight at the time being. To date, the Cardinals and Giants have reportedly submitted formal offers, while the Dodgers and Red Sox have also been linked to the slugger.
We’ll track today’s developments on the Stanton front right here:
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that other clubs have gotten the sense that there’ll be resolution on the Stanton talks one way or another by the time the Winter Meetings kick off on Dec. 10 (all Twitter links). That is to say, the Marlins will either have traded him by that point or interested parties will have exhausted their patience and begun to explore other possibilities on the trade and free-agent markets. Crasnick also notes that while the Cardinals and Giants are the most-cited suitors, there are other clubs that are in active pursuit of Stanton.
- Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that Stanton has given the Marlins a list of teams to which he’d accept a trade, and the Dodgers are among those teams (all links to Twitter). Per Morosi, the Dodgers and Marlins have discussed some Stanton trade scenarios, but the Giants and Cardinals have shown more focused interest in Stanton. Some teams interested in Stanton feel the Dodgers are his top choice, which could slow negotiations as Stanton could veto any deal until knowing for certain that the Dodgers don’t plan on making a move for him. At this point, however, Stanton has not rejected any trades, according to Morosi.
- Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has a full no-trade clause – not a partial NTC – agent Jim Boggs tells Cafardo. Regardless, coming off a back injury-shortened season in which he accounted for minus-1.1 fWAR in 252 plate appearances, finding a taker for Gonzalez, 35, figures to be a tall task for the Dodgers. LA may simply eat the $21.5MM Gonzalez is owed next season in order to jettison him, Cafardo suggests.
As of Black Friday, the 2017 offseason has been astonishingly quiet. The trade and free agent market seems as though it’s being held up in large part by the situation surrounding NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Once that massive domino falls, it’s possible we’ll see a flurry of free agent activity follow. In the meantime, however, Stanton rumors are a heavy focus of the baseball media cycle, and as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd pointed out in an in-depth piece earlier this month, his market is wide and complex. As we approach the weekend, here’s an overview of what we know about the Marlins’ attempt to deal their All-Star outfielder.
He’s the best player available on the market- This may be redundant considering I already mentioned his brand new MVP award, but the subject is well worth its own spotlight. His .281/.376/.631 batting line is other worldly, and his 59 homers paced all of baseball in 2017. While his 6.9 fWAR only tied for fifth among all players in the majors, the rest of the top seven (Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout) won’t be available for teams to acquire in a trade. The top three free agents (Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer) aren’t anywhere near as valuable in terms of expected WAR output as Stanton.
Teams perceive his remaining contract as close to market value- According to these three tweets from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, multiple teams told the Marlins that the remaining 10 years and $295MM left on Stanton’s contract are a pretty good estimate of what he’d earn on the open market, were he a free agent this offseason.
He has a lot of power over his own fate- Not only does Stanton have a full no-trade clause in his contract, but he also has the ability to opt out after the 2020 season, at which point he’d leave 7 years and $218MM on the table in search of a new deal. The opt-out makes trading him even more complicated, as it caps the contract value upside for his would-be new team. Meanwhile, the full no-trade protection gives him enormous leverage in the process. Many teams would love to add Stanton to their lineup, and the Marlins are looking to shed payroll. Ultimately, this means the Fish may not end up being able to accept the best offer, and could have to simply settle for the proposal from the city Stanton wishes to play for most.
The Marlins’ leverage over him is nonzero- While Stanton is a coveted asset and enjoys no-trade protection, he’s made it well-known that he isn’t interested in being around for a rebuild. The slugger’s desire to leave Miami could result in him approving a trade he’s not thrilled about just to play for a contender. On the other hand, it could also result in a tense game of chicken between Stanton and the Marlins to see who will bend first. Although the Marlins have a firm mission to shed payroll, they can do so in other ways; they don’t actually have to trade Stanton at all. And as much as Stanton wants to be traded, he might be willing to hold out for a team of his choice and risk staying put. The case is fascinating.
Some evaluators believe the Marlins’ asking price is unrealistic- While Miami’s asking price isn’t entirely clear, it seems as though they’re looking for a team to pay all (or nearly all) of his salary while including prospects. This has led some to suggest that the Fish need a “reality check” in terms of their asking price. If the contract is indeed roughly market value, then it’s difficult to imagine that a team will give up good prospects for the privilege to pay Stanton his full dollar value over the course of the deal.
He prefers to play near a coast- While this doesn’t seem to be a firm deal breaker, it complicates matters for teams like the Cardinals and Phillies, who have the payroll space and prospect depth to swing a trade for the prolific slugger.
The Cardinals and Giants have made formal offers- The Giants were the first to officially submit a trade proposal, with the Cardinals following suit later that same week. This doesn’t mean the trade discussions are finished; those trades could still be tweaked or even scrapped entirely in favor of starting from scratch. But the fact that there are at least two offers on the table gives the Marlins some options to weigh for the time being. It’s not known what those offers are, however, though we do know that the Cardinals included Sandy Alcantara in their proposal. It’s equally uncertain whether Miami even takes those offers seriously.
As many as eight teams are engaged in talks for him- While only six of those eight teams are thought to be serious pursuers, the fact that so many teams are showing strong interest bodes well for Miami and their power in negotiations. In addition to the Cardinals and Giants mentioned above, we know that the Dodgers, Phillies and Red Sox have had some level of dialogue with the Marlins. The Yankees, too, have reportedly done their due diligence, though it doesn’t sound as if they’re actively pursuing Stanton.
It was just last January that Fernandez signed a minor league deal with a $200K signing bonus, ending a rather prolonged stretch in free agency following the second baseman’s escape from Cuba in December 2015. While Fernandez posted some very good batting numbers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional (.319/.403/.423 in 2580 career plate appearances), he also hadn’t played since 2014, which unsurprisingly led to some rust during showcase appearances for scouts.
Still, there was some thought that L.A. had scored a bargain when they inked Fernandez, as he was seen by some as a player who was ready for a relatively quick promotion to the big leagues. Indeed, his performance in 2017 seemingly did little to shake that assessment, as Fernandez hit .306/.366/.498 over 369 PA for Double-A Tulsa. Fernandez continued to display good contact skills with just 33 strikeouts (against 24 walks), and he hit 16 homers at the Double-A level — a nice power increase considering he only hit 37 homers total in all his time in the Serie Nacional.
Fernandez didn’t play after July 29 due to a DL stint, and unless that injury was something particularly serious, his release seems rather surprising. Even if the Dodgers faced a roster crunch or simply didn’t see Fernandez as a long-term piece, one would think a trade would’ve come before an outright release (though the Dodgers might’ve quietly shopped him and found no takers). Still, given the relatively low price Fernandez cost Los Angeles in the first place, the Dodgers might’ve felt they weren’t losing out on much by releasing him.
The 29-year-old Fernandez now figures to get some attention on the free agent market, particularly from teams in need of middle infield help. Fernandez has spent much of his career at second base, though he also has a handful of games at first base, third base and in left field.
9:24pm: Ravin has now been dealt to the Braves in exchange for cash considerations, Shaikin tweets. He joins fellow reliever Grant Dayton in following executive Alex Anthopoulos from Los Angeles to Atlanta.
7:31pm: The Dodgers have designated righty Josh Ravin for assignment, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times was among those to tweet. As he departs the 40-man, righties Trevor Oaks and Dennis Santana will join it.
Ravin, 29, showed some big swing-and-miss potential after landing with the Dodgers but never fully caught on in the majors. A PED suspension and some injuries certainly had an impact. Ravin ultimately threw 16 2/3 frames in the bigs in 2017, allowing 12 earned runs with a 19:9 K/BB ratio. In 35 1/3 Triple-A innings, he pitched to a 4.33 ERA with 14.0 K/9 against 4.8 BB/9.
The addition of Dayton becomes the first acquisition for newly hired Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos, who is certainly quite familiar with the southpaw from his time in the Dodgers front office. Atlanta, evidently, can afford the greater patience — as well as the inconvenience of tying up a 40-man spot for part of the offseason — that comes with Dayton as he rehabs.
Certainly, Dayton carries an intriguing background to his new organization. He seemingly came from nowhere to dominate down the stretch and become one of the Dodgers’ top relievers in 2016. But Dayton showed signs of trouble throughout the 2017 season and ultimately struggled to a 4.94 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 23 2/3 innings before going down with a UCL injury.
Given the timing of the surgery, it’s fairly likely that Dayton won’t pitch in the majors in 2018. The Braves can, of course, add him to the 60-day DL to open the year, but will have to clog a 40-man spot in the meantime to maintain control rights.
- The Blue Jays announced last night that they’ve brought back former first-round pick Deck McGuire on a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. Toronto selected McGuire, now 28 years of age, with the 10th overall pick back in 2010. The former Georgia Tech star tore through Class-A Advanced with the Jays but began to struggle upon reaching Double-A and was ultimately traded to the A’s for cash considerations in 2014. McGuire has since pitched in the upper levels of the Dodgers and Cardinals systems, and in 2017 he made his big league debut with the Reds after turning in a terrific season in Double-A. McGuire tossed 168 innings with a 2.79 ERA, 9.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for Cincinnati’s Pensacola affiliate, and he impressed in a brief sample of MLB innings as well. Through 13 2/3 frames with the Reds, McGuire allowed four earned runs (2.63 ERA) on 10 hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts.
- Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times tweets that the Dodgers are closing in on a minor league deal with left-hander Manny Banuelos. The 26-year-old Banuelos was once one of the most prized prospects in the Yankees’ farm system before elbow problems slowed his career. Banuelos had Tommy John surgery back in 2013 and has since undergone a second elbow operation to remove bone chips. His lone season with MLB experience came in 2015 when he tossed 26 1/3 innings with the Braves. Banuelos spent the 2017 season with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate and struggled to a 4.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9 in 95 innings. It’s perhaps worth noting that he spent the bulk of 2017 as a reliever (nine starts, 30 relief outings) — his first career season working primarily out of the bullpen.