I find myself in somewhat of a dilemma. I never believed the Dodgers would spring for Stanton. That is not what they do. It is not who they are. But yet I was getting excited about the chance of the ONE true game changer available this year becoming a Dodger. I was convinced that the Dodgers only entered into the discussion to get Stanton to say no to the Giants. I do not believe they ever intended to consummate the trade and take on that debt. The one constant this off season has been management’s claim as to their necessity to get under the luxury tax threshold to reset the tax. Why, I do not know. They lose another $60M in salaries next year.
There have been two game changers available the last two off-seasons, Chris Sale and Giancarlo Stanton, and the Dodgers have neither. They are both in the AL East. And if anyone believes the Red Sox will not go hard after JD Martinez, they need to go back and study Dave Dombrowski. Sure FAZ may get involved, but only to drive the price up. Just like Stanton, Martinez will not be a Dodger. Ozuna? The Cardinals will offer one or two of their top pitching prospects and the Dodgers will offer Sborz and Sopko. Guess who wins?
It may seem that I am bitter. A better descriptive is disappointed. I got my hopes up when I knew better. SHAME ON ME. FAZ has proven to be masterful at uncovering the nugget, and building a deep farm system. And as a Dodger fan, I am truly appreciative. But they have not shown a willingness to go for a game changer. I was supportive of not going after Hamels or Price or Cueto in 2015. I agreed that they should not have signed or traded for Aroldis Chapman in 2016. I was on board with the Rich Hill and Josh Reddick trade in 2016. I was surprised when they committed nearly $200M to 3 players last winter. And I thought the trade for Darvish was excellent. But I do believe that not trading for Stanton may turn out to be short-sighted.
The Dodgers were set up. Stanton could have been that RH protective bat for Bellinger. Now it’s Puig. Some of you are convinced that Puig has turned the corner. I am not there yet for an entire season. Everything went right for the Dodgers last year. Cody, Taylor, Wood, Barnes, Morrow all had career changing seasons. Can they duplicate them? Puig reinvented himself. Will that continue? How serious are the injuries to Kershaw’s back and Seager’s wrist? Are Maeda and Ryu anything more than 5 inning pitchers? Can Urias actually make it back from his shoulder injury? Are Buehler or Verdugo ready? Some of the answers will turn out to be positive, but all of them? They no longer have Darvish or Morrow. After all the Cubs won 103 games in 2016 and 92 in 2017 with basically the same team.
What do I expect?
- Some more signings like Pat Venditte, Travis Taijeron, Jesen Therrien, and Guillermo Zuniga. They will continue their search to find that proverbial nugget.
- They will continue their quest to get under the luxury tax threshold.
- They will pretend to be in on multiple high priced FA (i.e Darvish/Martinez) to bid up the “winning” contract, but will not sign them.
- They will check in on multiple possible trades, but there will only be some off the wall trade coming out of nowhere.
- Andrew Toles and Kike’ Hernandez will be the LF platoon. Joc will be the #5 OF and Verdugo will go back to OKC where he will play every day instead of sitting on the bench.
- A-Gon will play the Utley role as a LH bat off the bench.
- There will be multiple 10 day DL trips because the team will have no idea what to do with McCarthy and Kazmir.
- There will be some trade deadline transaction to stay in the playoff run.
- The Dodgers, Cubs, and Nationals will win their divisions.
What I do not expect is a significant FA signing or trade.
What I hope for, some of:
- Not let the luxury tax dictate the moves.
- A trade of Grandal, McCarthy, Verdugo, Avilan, and Ryu to Baltimore for Austin Hays, Hunter Harvey, and Zach Britton. Either the Orioles are going for a sell-off or they are going to go for it in 2018. Giancarlo Stanton to NYY will dictate what they will do, but I am hoping they will want to go for it. While I do not think he is necessary, the Dodgers are going to have to take on some salary, thus Britton. The O’s have Brach and Givens to close. The O’s get two starting pitchers, OF replacement for Hays, reliever replacement for Britton, and a catcher mentor for Chance Sisco.
- A trade of Forsythe, Font, and DJ Peters to the Braves for Ender Inciarte. The Braves need another year for Ozzie Albies to be ready to be every day 2B, and relief pitching. This is a tough one. The Dodgers may have to sweeten this. THE DODGERS NEED A TRUE DEFENSIVE CF. No more LF (or 2B) that can play CF.
- A trade of Alvarez, Estevez, Joc, and Trayce Thompson to the Marlins for Marcell Ozuna and JT Riddle or Derek Dietrich (LH hitting infielder). I am not sure how much the Marlins want to deal with LA.
- Kazmir will be DFA’d to end the charade of him having a bounce back season.
- Sign Jhoulys Chacin to be the #5 starting pitcher (nothing more than 2 years).
- Sign Nick Hundley to be back-up catcher.
- Sign Brandon Morrow
Again, I do not expect any of these, but I am hopeful that one or two might be accomplished.
There has been some preliminary speculation as to what the Red Sox will do to counter Giancarlo Stanton. I still think JD Martinez will be wearing a Red Sox uni next season. Others believe that the Red Sox will go after Eric Hosmer. I think that would be a mistake. I think Hosmer is another Josh Reddick where he cannot play for a big market team. I think the best place for Hosmer is back in Kansas City. If the Red Sox get Martinez, I would guess that the O’s will be more in a sell off mood rather than try for one more year. However, Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette will not want to go quietly.
Okay, I got all of my negativism out of the way. This is the week of hope for our favorite baseball team. Some may not want any changes. They like the team just the way it is. I do not believe in the status quo, it keeps things stale and stagnant. Just ask the Cubs fans. Change has to be made to keep the team growing. Sure, I will be sorry to see some of the young guns go. Nobody is a bigger advocate for the minor leaguers than I am. But I will be excited if it brings a player or players to take us to the next step in this journey…a World Series Championship.