I Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident…

On Opening Day 2018, these positions in the lineup will be manned by the following players (barring injury):

C –   Austin Barnes– As good or better than Yasmani NOW.

1B – Cody Bellinger– Gold Glove and a Superstar

2B – Logan Forsythe– Look for a huge year from him

SS – Corey Seager– The only concern is health.  If healthy, he is a beast!

3B – Justin Turner– More of the same.

CF – Chris Taylor– Best CF on the roster and he will get better.

RF – Yasiel Puig– The fact that he has room for improvement is incredible.

Left field is the only position that is unsettled.  Now, of course some of those players could be traded, but I do not think it is likely.  I think the major question is “Who’s in LF?” That is the million, maybe $295 million dollar question.

There is no shortage of prospects on the roster for the position:  Kike Hernandez, Andrew Toles, Alex Verdugo, Joc Pederson and Trayce Thompson (if he stays on the roster… and he may not).  And then… there are players who could be signed as free agents or traded for: Giancarlo Stanton, Stephen Piscotty or Randal Grichuk, JD Martinez, Marcel Ozuna, among others.

My own personal opinion is that there is very little chance JD Martinez will become a Dodger because of the extremely high cost (like $150 million) and the fact that he is a hack in the outfield. The odds are also very slim that Giancarlo Stanton becomes a Dodger because of the astronomically high cost and length of his contract.  Now, if the Marlins were to include $50 million, that might be another story, but that seems unlikely.

What seems likely to me is that the Giants or Cardinals get Stanton and if the Cards do, they may need to add a LH bat in the outfield. This may be one of those cases whereby players change teams and do better in another part of the country. How about Joc Pederson and Trayce Thompson for Piscotty or Grichuk?

Marcel Ozuna would be nice and just what the Dodgers need:  A RH power bat, but the price would be high.  Something like Verdugo, Alvarez and May for him.  Actually, this could be the best deal… even though it is an overpay.  Ozuna will cost the Marlins a lot of money and the Dodgers can control him for two more years. He would slot perfectly at #5 behind Cody Bellinger.

Trayce Thompson is likely gone… one way or another. Kike and Toles are perfect extra outfielders.  Verdugo and Pederson are the odd men out.. along with Yasmani Grandal if a trade partner who wants to overpay is found.

I cannot see where Adrian Gonzalez fits in next year.  No way. No how.  I just don’t know how it will all go down, but I can’t see him on the team.  A-Gon made no sense to me.  The Ozuna deal makes the most sense to me.  Best case scenario:

  1. Taylor  CF
  2. Seager  SS
  3. Turner  3B
  4. Bellinger  1B
  5. Ozuna  LF
  6. Puig  RF
  7. Forsythe  2B
  8. Barnes  C

Subs:  Culberson, Toles, Hernandez, Farmer, Locastro

That is a strongly RH lineup, but Puig hit them very well last year and Forsythe hit them well in the past.Barnes had reverse splits.  Trading Pederson, Grandal and Verdugo is a flawed scenario, but one to consider.

This article has 40 Comments

  1. Mark
    I posted about Ozuna playing LF and batting 5th would( I think) be a perfect fit for both Ozuma and the Dodgers and if it came to Verdugo and Alvarez I would make the trade although I would rather lose Pederson and Toles rather than Alvarez,

  2. Just when you think it’s safe to go in the water, MT brings up the TRADE yesterday!!! Damn, it will be nice when Agon is gone and we can put it to bed…
    Speaking of Agon, I’m exited about ST already… Let Agon play himself off the team or let him go with Bellinger in LF… I’d like to see Toles be given a fair share of games and see if his hitting is there… His speed will be an asset for sure..
    Is Verdugo really a ‘Gwynn’ type hitter??? If so pencil him in LF… It’s his Puig like demeanor/IQ that worries me… Is Buehler the next Blue mega star???
    Damn I love Dodger baseball…

  3. You alluded to Seager’s elbow. Since the information we have is minimal all we can do is speculate.

    If his chance of playing more than 120 games is 50/50 that may affect outfield choices.

    Our shortstop options without Seager are Taylor, Hernandez and Culberson. Unless Culberson is the primary SS, that removes one of our outfielders from the mix.

    I have no idea who, but I suspect we add an outfield bat to cover that eventually. I don’t see this front office relaying on Pederson, Verdugo, Toles, Hernandez to provide two starters.

    1. I would imagine that they have or will draw his blood, centrafuge it and inject the plasma back into his elbow for healing. My dog had a scratched cornea and they made eye drops out of his blood. They dialated his eye and it made him drool like a fool as he waited in the waiting room.
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      1. We’ve always had bigger dogs. We had two St. Bernards for quite awhile. We surprised the kids with a Samoyed for X-mas almost two years ago. Still plenty of shedding but less drool.

  4. I can’t see the Marlins moving Ozuna without moving a contract with him. I figure they need to move three of their first 6 hitters:
    Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, JT Realmuto, and Justin Bour.
    And Realmuto isn’t going anywhere….

  5. Stanton and Martinez are non-starters. Those are Ned Colletti type moves (not a criticism), or Dave Dombrowski. But they are not FAZ moves. I know Dodger fans love the idea of Ozuna in LF, but I also do not believe that is going to happen. If all it would take is Alex Verdugo, Yadier Alvarez, and Dustin May something inside me says they would do that to get Ozuna for the next two years. FAZ loves complex deals, so maybe they really go for it and try for Christian Yelich and Kyle Barraclough as well.
    If they go for a trade, I would look at Avisail Garcia, White Sox RF, but he can play LF. I see no advantage to Piscotty over Toles, and certainly not Grichuk. If the Dodgers want a Cardinals OF, they ought to hold out for Tommy Pham. I still believe that a good move would be to look to Atlanta for Inciarte. Acuna is their CF of the future. Insert Inciarte as a GG caliber CF and move Taylor to LF. I also like Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr from the Phillies. All that being said, it is much more likely that it will be Toles/Kike as the platoon LF, Verdugo goes back to OKC, and Joc is the #5 OF.
    I was pushing for Alex Bregman in the beginning of 2016 (I know, no chance). Now my go to player is Austin Hays, O’s OF. I think he will start out in AAA this year, but he has can’t miss written all over him. The Dodgers have as much chance to get him as they did with Bregman. They missed out on Bo Bichette and took Gavin Lux over him, but he is another player I would really like to pursue. I advocated him before the 2016 draft.
    I agree with Rudy that the Dodgers should concentrate on a RHSP who can go 180 IP. Chris Archer will undoubtedly be on FAZ’s radar. I would also expect Julio Teheran to be shopped and I think FAZ will listen. He is a young reclamation project that FAZ likes. Michael Wacha, Jake Odorizzi, and Shelby Miller are other reclamation project candidates who have two years team control. FA pitchers like Andrew Cashner, and Jhoulys Chacin will also get a look. Pitchers like Gerrit Cole, Jacob DeGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, are going to cost prospects that FAZ will not spend. If they would not spend them on Chris Sale they will not spend them on any other front line starter. I am still an advocate for trying to get Hunter Harvey out of Baltimore. Huge Risk and Reward. Sounds like a FAZ move. I am still upset they did not really go after Chris Sale.
    I do think Grandal will be traded. I am not sure how the Dodgers feel about Farmer as a catcher. They certainly did not give him an opportunity with the ML team. So if Grandal is traded, look for a veteran FA backup like Hundley or Iannetta. I do not know about Joc, but they will not give him away. I would expect Brandon McCarthy to be moved for salary savings. I do not see how Adrian Gonzalez finds himself on the Dodgers 25 man next April. He will get a chance to show what he still has in ST, because there is no reason to DFA him before then. If he looks like he can help, they will hold on him, but I think he becomes more of a detriment to the roster. Sorry, but bad backs just do not get better with age, and to think otherwise would be thinking with your heart.
    IMO, the one move they have to do is re-sign Brandon Morrow, and find another LHRP. Dayton is out with TJ surgery. Liberatore can never stay healthy, and it does not appear that the Dodgers are sold on Avilan. If they want to continue to short cut starting pitcher’s innings, the bullpen has to match the Yankees or 2014/2015 Royals. The Dodgers have the ability to go big or do nothing. I think it will be minor moves and continue to build depth. Again great for a 162 game season, but will it get them over the hump in the playoffs?

    1. AC

      I agree with you that Morrow is the best and easily thing, the Dodgers can do, in the off season.

      Considering there are not any really good starting pitchers that will be free agents after the 2018 season, and because of that, we will probably have to trade for a top reliever at the trade deadline anyways, if we make it to the post season, next year.

      But wouldn’t be better, just give Morrow close to what he wants, instead of risking losing out at the trade deadline to another team, and giving away some of our top prospects, to get a quality reliever for the post season, if we make it next year?

      I am sure the front office are up to creating, a creative contract, that will not only make Morrow happy, but it will fit what the Dodgers want to do, to get under the luxury tax, after the 2018 season.

  6. Well – the dust has settled and we fans are already salivating over next year’s roster. Here are my thoughts:
    1 – I agree with all who seriously doubt that the Braintrust will take on any long term deals that involve big salary. It’s not resigning their own (Jansen or Turner); the Dodgers are still in luxury tax land; they won’t want to be locked into long term deals. This management group seems to prize flexibility very highly and the likes of a JD Martinez or a Stanton doesn’t permit that. I have been shouting for a RH corner OF with power since they got rid of one (Kemp) a few years ago.
    2 – There’s no way that Ozuna comes to LA. The new owners of the fish have already said that they aren’t trading him (I know, you never know, but it seems very unlikely).
    3 – They have plenty of in-house options to play LF next year – we all know who they are. It’s not an area of real need.
    4 – I think that most here agree that Grandal’s tenure with the Dodgers is probably ending. A trade will save money and bring either prospects or maybe something that the Dodgers really need, like relief pitching.
    5 – The Braintrust discussed the need to rebuild the ‘pen in light of Tony Watson and Brandon Morrow leaving. They won’t pay big $$ for any relief pitcher (except Jansen, who is irreplaceable) as that is the Moneyball way. Morrow will get closer $$ or close to it and he has an injury history so they will likely let him walk. They have some in-house options (they mentioned Yimi Garcia) and there will be others who are invitees (like Morrow) who they can sign cheaply. The baseball press is talking 3/$24MM or thereabouts for Morrow and that isn’t going to happen in LA.
    6 – I’m sure that they would like to trade either McCarthy or Ryu, both of whom have some value and their trade would provide salary relief. They won’t be able to trade Kazmir who apparently can no longer pitch – why would someone want him?
    7 – This is a team that was 1 win away from winning a championship, so why would they change much? They will nibble around the edges and look for marginal improvements that can be done inexpensively and make a bigger splash at the deadline.
    8 – They do have a glut of LH corner OF – Toles, Verdugo and Pederson. Of the 3 Verdugo may have the most market value but the Braintrust does love their prospects so he probably isn’t going anywhere. If I were a betting many I would bet that Joc may be done in Blue.
    9 – They will try to trade Adrian Gonzalez – Bellinger is much better at 1B and they have a glut of OF already. I just don’t know if they will find any takers.
    10 – My prediction: they try to unload Grandal, Pederson, Gonzalez and either McCarthy or Ryu.
    11 – I like the idea of acquiring a RHP to start. Of AC’s list, I have never liked either Julio Tehran or Jhoulys Chacin . The Shelby Miller or Michael Wacha ideas are more the Braintrust’s style – both are coming off of major arm injuries. I doubt that either are going to throw 180 – 200 innings any time soon. I doubt that the D-Backs will want to trade within the Division so that seems to leave Miller out.
    12 – The Cards will want to trade Grichuk – they sent him to the minors last year because he couldn’t hit. He strikes out a ton. He is the Cardinal Red version of Joc Pederson. They will try to hold on to Piscotty.

  7. Mark, good analysis of our current players. I think Taylor will only get better at CF or 2B if they wanted to put a juggernaut on the field. I think Forsythe will have a solid year next year. He’s not going to hit .195 against RH pitching again nor do I think he will ever hit 20 HR’s again playing in LA. Puig’s numbers against lefties this year were fluky. I think he is a solid #5 hitter if he continues his maturation. Frankly, he had better AB’s in the WS than both Seager and Bellinger. Puig knows he’s only got two years left on his contract. I don’t see any reason for regression. Beautiful dog too.
    I think people tend to underestimate Toles. Maybe because he wasn’t drafted by the Dodgers and seen as a big prospect in our system. A platoon of Toles and Kike in LF will get us at least 25 HR’s and two outfielders with plus arms. With Toles you get plus speed too which the Dodgers lineup can use. I tend to agree with MJ that Toles has prematurely been pigeon holed as platoon player, but since he’s coming off of an injury it would be probably be the best thing for him next year.
    As for the the other names being tossed around. I’d take Stanton and his deal before JD Martinez. I’m not paying Martinez $20+ million and be a butcher in LF. At least Stanton can play a high level of defense. I’m kind of like Mark where at first it sounds great and then you actually look at Stanton’s deal on paper and go, UGH. I think the Dodgers would be fine short-term and long-term with or without Stanton. By the time Stanton’s deal starts looking bad, Turner, Jansen and others will be off the books, but I think more emphasis should be on pitching anyways. As for the Cardinals castoffs, no thank you. I will pass on both of those guys. Ozuna would be great, but count me as skeptical about his availability. The Phillies aren’t moving their kids to the Dodgers. They have a ton of money to spend and will be big players in the big free-agent class next year. Now Inciarte is a guy who has intrigued me for some time now. The Dodgers no longer really need a leadoff hitter but I still love him. He’s a pest and a great defender. If the Dodgers could acquire him, I’m moving Taylor to 2B not LF though. Forsythe has one year left on his deal. I don’t see the Dodgers going after any of these guys who have signed QO’s.
    Otani is hitting the market. Can the Dodgers figure out how to get in on him is the real question? I don’t care if that makes the Dodgers lefty heavy considering Seager and Bellinger both hit lefties well. Some rumors that Otani wants to go with Darvish somewhere. I hope Dodgers fans stop with the nasty tweets to Darvish because I’m sure Otani talks to him.
    Mark, I don’t like your bench. Cult Hero Charlie Culberson is a .225 hitter if he played in the bigs all year. Locastro is a guy who can play a lot of positions and from what I’ve read, none of them that well. Farmer isn’t a good defender from what I’ve read. Only one lefty coming off the bench.

  8. A few days ago, I raised the possibility that Kike could have a breakout. I am not guaranteeing it, but JD Martinez started blooming at the same age Kike will be next year. Kike does have big power, so you never know.

    I would not mind seeing Toles and Hernandez platoon in LF. Barring trades, this could be the lineup:

    1. Taylor CF
    2. Seager SS
    3. Turner 3B
    4. Bellinger 1B
    5. Puig RF
    6. Forsythe 2B
    7. Barnes C
    8. Toles/Hernandez LF

    That might be the best defensive team in baseball. Then the bench could be Verdugo, Farmer, Culberson and Joc. That’s 6 Outfielders, but Kike can play IF too.

    1. Flip flop your LF and 2B. Kike mashes lefties and Toles will hit. I hate seeing speed guys get wasted in the 8 hole.

  9. Puig won Wilson’s version of the GG tonight. Heyward is a Rawlings person, coincidence? Probably less of a popularity contest too.

  10. So, let me get this straight – Puig is not a Gold Glove RF’er in the NL, but he’s the best defensive RF ‘er in baseball? What a crock…

    Here is the entire list of 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Award winners:

    C: Martin Maldonado, Angels
    1B: Carlos Santana, Indians
    2B: DJ LeMahieu, Rockies
    3B: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
    SS: Andrelton Simmons, Angels
    LF: Alex Gordon, Royals
    CF: Byron Buxton, Twins
    RF: Yasiel Puig, Dodgers
    P: Tyler Chatwood, Rockies

    Best Overall Defensive Player: Byron Buxton, Twins

    Defensive Team of the Year: Los Angeles Dodgers

    1. One is Wilson and one is Rawlings. J-Hey wears a Rawlings glove by the way. Also, the Wilson vote doesn’t let old crotchety coaches vote. More based on sabremetrics. Puig has the best % of runners advancing an extra base in all of baseball. So while assists can be down, they do recognize it is because players don’t generally even try to run on him anymore.

        1. I thought so. I’m glad he got recognized for his work and I liked the response he put out when he didn’t win Rawlings GG award. If he stays on the right path, we could see his best year yet next year. I didn’t expect this much power this year. I was hoping .280-.285, 12-15 stolen bases , 15 HRS, and the GG defense. I think we will see the avg come up next year.

  11. I know there is not a lot of interest to talk about #4 or #5 starting pitchers. Everybody wants Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, Jon Lester, Dallas Keuchel, and Corey Kluber…but they are not available. Detroit is not going to trade Michael Fulmer, the Mets are not going to trade Syndergaard or DeGrom, and the Cards are not going to trade Carlos Martinez unless they get something very special in return. If you cannot have any of those, who wants to hear about Teheran, Wacha, Miller, Odorizzi, Cashner, Chacin. They are not Aces so why should the Dodgers be interested? After all we are talking about the Dodgers who should be able to pay ($$$ and prospects) for anyone they want?
    Like it or not, Kershaw, Hill and Wood are the top three Dodgers starting pitchers. Only Kershaw is expected to pitch 175+ innings. Leaving Maeda/Ryu/Buehler/McCarthy/Stripling/Stewart/Kazmir/Oaks for the final two spots. Buehler has pitched a total of 103 professional innings, and there is no way he is going to pitch 180 innings at the ML level. He will be the #6. Stripling and Stewart are relievers who just don’t know it. McCarthy? Really? Kazmir? Will he ever throw another pitch? Leaving Maeda and Ryu as #4 and #5. Neither one will approach 180 IP. Ryu turns 31 next year and becomes a FA the following year, with a questionable shoulder. Maeda turns 30 next year and really is a 5 inning pitcher. He could be a very good reliever, but his contract probably precludes that opportunity. If you are happy with the prospects of Maeda and Ryu as #4 and #5, so be it. I like to look for the next J.A. Happ, or maybe the next Jake Arietta (a nobody until 28). Odorizzi turns 28 next year, and Teheran, Wacha, and Miller all turn 27. All have had success at the ML level, and all have fallen on hard times. Will a change of scenery do them good? I have no idea. I am certain that FAZ and their scouts have scouted many of these types of pitchers.
    Another way to keep top of the rotation pitchers is to go the Kyle Hendricks route. It took two years for him to get to Chicago. The Dodgers probably have multiple Kendricks types in the lower ranks. Maybe Alvarez, maybe White, maybe Oaks, maybe May, maybe Santana. But they need Hendricks in 2018, not 2020. Who will be that #3? I would be fine with Wood being #4. I suppose those who believe only top of the rotation will do will have no problem spending $22M to $25M for 5-6 years for Yu Darvish.
    I agree with those that believe Toles could be a good LF. I am sure that FAZ believes that a platoon of Toles and Kike’ will be more than adequate. I am not prepared to believe that Kike’ can be another JD Martinez, but I do believe that a platoon of Toles and Hernandez can provide 25-30 HRs, and it will not cost $150M.

    1. I’m good with Ryu and Maeda starting the year unless the Dodgers can dump some salary to upgrade. I would prefer Maeda in the pen, but he would have to lose an honest battle for the rotation spot. Also, the Dodgers would have to adjust his contract and I don’t think that would be a problem. They paid him an incentive that he fell just short of in 2016.. I agree with Mark, if Ryu is around I think he will be much better. If you take away his numbers in Colorado, they’re quite good and I guess he’s working on a two-seem fastball this off season. Ideally, Buehler and Urias are the #4 and #5 pitchers by season’s end with Maeda in the pen, but who knows how Urias will respond and Buehler will develop. I would love to have Darvish back for 3 or 4 years, but it isn’t going to happen in my opinion. I would love to have Ohtani too. I think Alex Cobb is heading to the Cubs. Mark always said that the Dodgers would rue the day they took on Crawford’s contract. Really, they handled the bad contracts of Crawford, Ethier, and Kemp just fine. They bit the bullet and re-signed Turner, Hill, and Jansen. In the end, it is the final year of Gonzalez’s contract that may tie their hands from doing what they really want to do this off-season.

      1. BTW, I’m hoping Santana forces his way into the bullpen next year. Guys like Stewart, Santana, and Yimi could help a lot, but they still need to add a Morrow or Minor and I’m not buying into this narrative that the Dodgers won’t spend money on the pen outside of Jansen. They were willing to trade for Chapman and Britton who were going to be expensive additions.

      2. But, I bet they won’t sign up for many more bad contracts…
        Think about it – Crawfish, Gonzo and Andre cost the Dodgers about $65 million in 2017. Add in Kazmir, McCarthy and other “sunk costs” and they had $90 to $100 million in non-productive money last year. Wow!

        They could have paid Stanton, Ozuna, Yelich and Verlander and still had money left!

        1. Verlander was big money and 3 prospects. I agree they aren’t going to sign up for a bunch of bad contracts, but in their mind Kazmir, McCarthy, and Anderson weren’t bad contracts. I’m with you on the FAZ train, but the best of them miss sometimes. Just pointing out the irony that in the end it may be Gonzalez’s deal that hampers them. I looked at the Punto Trade as an extension of the purchase of the team. They took on Becket and Crawford knowing they weren’t good contracts.

      3. Hawkeye

        I am surprised so many people want to get rid of Ryu too.

        He had to pitch in Colorado more then the other pitchers, back in our rotation.

        Hill never made one start in Colorado this year.

        I wonder what Ryu’s era would look like, if he never had to make one start in Colorado, like Hill.

        And that is not because Ryu doesn’t have a decent era, he does, but it would be much better, if he was never made, to start in Colorado like Hill.

        About Corey and Cody, remember Corey was hurt, and this was only Cody’s first year, in the majors.

        Puig has a few more years in the majors, then these other young players, and they were hitting higher, in the line up.

        I think some people were expecting to much out, of Corey and Cody.

        Not only did Puig win the Wilson defensive player in right, the Dodgers as a team, was the Wilson defensive team, this year too!

        1. I think Ryu is sub 3 ERA outside of Coors field or at least close. I’m not pointing out Cody and Corey as a knock just as a maturation from where Puig had been in the past in the playoffs. Although, I don’t buy Corey was swinging over low curve balls because he was hurt. They were just overly aggressive.

  12. Sources: In Giancarlo Stanton trade talks, the Marlins have had preliminary communication with the Red Sox, the Cards, SF and the Phils. Talks are expected to intensify at GM Meetings next week.

      1. That is the one thing that can force the Marlins to take a deal the Dodgers find palatable. Stanton holds all of the cards and he wants to play on the west coast and not for a rebuild.

    1. Just rumors, but from what I’ve read the Marlins prefer the Cardinals as their trade partner. However, Stanton prefers the Giants out of those four teams.

      1. Hawkeye

        I don’t know if you noticed this, but Corey wasn’t going the other way, as much as he normally did.

        And like you said about Puig, Corey and especially Cody, trying to do to much, is related to there inexperience.

        And Corey barely hit above 200, after he came back off the DL, toward the end of the season, so he was hurting much more, then he would say.

        I just thought of a provoking question, do we even make it to the World Series, without Darvish?

  13. What I took from the article that was posted yesterday was that Barnes’ ability to frame as well if not better put Yasmani and his passed balls on the bench. I think all teams have made it more of priority thus the narrower range. However, if a catcher isn’t there consistently I would take it with a grain of salt much like defensive metrics.

  14. Per Dan Szymborski of ESPN.com: ZiPS’ projected value for Brandon Morrow is three years, $29.2 million (A.A.V.: $9.73M) and ZiPS’ projected value for Yu Darvish is six years, $156.6 million (A.A.V.: $26.1M).

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