There has been a lot of discussion about pending ML free agents, but there are 572 minor league free agents, including 23 Dodgers. To qualify for minor league free agency for 2018, a player would have signed a minor league Uniform Player’s Contract (UPC) in 2011 and not be released from the terms of that UPC. Teams can renew a player’s UPC six times before the player is declared a minor league free agent. In rare cases, the player’s organization adds him to the 40-man roster to preempt free agency. In even rarer cases, the two sides agree to a successor minor league contract for 2018, as the Diamondbacks did with 2011 fifth-rounder Michael Perez in October.
Perhaps the best known Dodger minor league FA is 27 year old O’Koyea Dickson. Dickson was drafted by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2011 Amateur Draft out of Sonoma State, and has remained a Dodger his entire professional career. He was primarily a 1B until he started playing more and more in LF with OKC, until he played LF almost exclusively all of 2017. He finally received “The Call” in September 2017. He got 9 PA (7 AB), and got his 1st ML hit with a PH single against Madison Bumgarner. On November 6, 2017, Dickson was outrighted to OKC, and he became a minor league FA. The Dodgers can certainly re-sign him to a minor league contract, but he also recognizes that the chances of him making the Dodger 25 man are not that great, and he will probably sign with another team to improve his chances. Whatever happens, I wish nothing but the best for O’Koyea.
Other Dodger Minor League Free Agents:
RHP – Scott Barlow, Fabio Castillo, Eddie Gamboa, Steve Geltz, David Hale, Jair Jurrjens, Justin Masterson, Juan Noriega, Oliver Polanco, Tim Shibuya, Andrew Thurman, Madison Younginer
LHP – Jeremy Bleich, Ike Davis
C – Jack Murphy, Sean O’Connell, Wynston Sawyer, Bobby Wilson, Shawn Zarraga
SS – Drew Maggi
OF – Todd Cunningham, Quincy Latimore
Of the FA’s listed above, I would think that the one they would like to hold on to more than any other is RHP Scott Barlow. Barlow was the Dodgers 6th round draft choice in that same 2011 draft. It is also possible that one or two of the catchers might be re-signed.
There were also several other familiar names from other teams on the list. Former Dodger, Ivan De Jesus Jr., had an outstanding season at Colorado Springs (AAA), and should find a home. Former Oakland A’s 1st round draft choice (13th overall) Grant Green is also a FA. Farhan Zaidi certainly is very familiar with Green. He is another of FAZ’s specialties, utility players, so he might get a call for a minor league contract, strictly for insurance. Green is from Southern Cal (Anaheim and University of Southern California). Have to talk up a Trojan. A backup catcher Andrew Friedman is familiar with is Curt Caselli, a former Tampa Bay Rays catcher. Another former big league catcher I am familiar with is Brett Hayes, 2nd round draft choice in 2005. One other catcher that might get a look could be Brayan Pena. Any of Caselli, Pena, or Hayes could be good mentors for Smith if they are willing to accept minor league roles.
A couple of days back, someone thought that one area that the Dodgers might look at is a LH utility infielder. While I am sure that there are multiple options who may be available via trade, there are a few LH or SH infielder free agents that might be considered. Stephen Drew, Erick Aybar, and Alexi Amarista are ML FA that might be considered. If too expensive, there are some MiLB FA that might warrant a review; Emmanuel Burriss (33, SH), Nick Franklin (27, SH), Rey Navarro (28, SH), Niko Goodrum (25, SH), Angelo Mora (25, SH), Juniel Querecuto (25, SH), Benji Gonzalez (28, SH). Three pitchers that might raise some interest are LHRP, Wade LeBlanc, LHRP Paco Rodriguez (yes that Paco Rodriguez), and LHP Jayson Aquino. Finally, former catcher converted RHP Christian Bethancourt, is also a minor league FA. Before you trash all these pitchers, remember this is where Brandon Morrow was last year.
Now before everyone says I don’t want anything to do with any of these minor league FA, that is not how FAZ looks at it. There are multiple minor league FA that will be on the AAA roster. The Dodgers like to have ML ready players at OKC just a phone call away. Yes, depth. In addition, I am not advocating any of these players. They are simply players I am familiar with or players that do have ML experience.
Arizona Fall League:
Will Smith (56 AB) 4 DBL, 1 TPL, 1 HR, 11 RBI – .339/.415/.500/.915
Yusniel Diaz (57 AB) 1 DBL, 1 TPL, 1 HR, 9 RBI – .281/.344/.386/.730
Matt Beaty (59 AB) 6 DBL, 2 HR, 10 RBI – .254/.290/.458/.748
DJ Peters (32 AB) 1 DBL, 1 TPL, 2 HR, 4 RBI – .188/.278/.469/.747
Andrew Sopko (15 IP) – 6 BB, 9 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
Michael Boyle (12 IP) – 2 BB, 10 K, 3.75 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
Isaac Anderson (9.1 IP) – 4 BB, 10 K, 2.89 ERA, 1.82 WHIP
Shea Spitzbarth (10.0 IP) – 2 BB, 16 K, 5.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP