Minor League Free Agents

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



This article has 20 Comments

  1. There will definitely be a number of new faces in the system next year, and Dickson will likely move to another organization. So could Barlow – some teams might look at Scott as a 5th starter.

    Some players will be back. Some won’t.

    Will Smith appears to be comfortable with higher level pitching. His hitting in the AFL was surprising, to say the least. If he can hit like that, KayBear may have to learn LF. Smith and Ruiz are not that far away.

    Cody Bellinger showed he could handle the pitching in the AFL last fall and we can see what happened to him. Alex Verdugo struggled and spent the year at AAA. Smith showed great hitting ability in the AFL – how far away can he be from the show? He will be 23 next Spring. Is it possible that Smith goes to AAA next year and Ruiz goes to AA or maybe Ruiz will start playing another position at times next year (LF)?

    1. I agree that both Dickson and Barlow will be moving on. O’Koyea had 3 years at OKC. He needs to move on to keep the dream alive. Barlow sees who is ahead of him in the organization, and he knows he is going to need a change in scenery to get that shot. Minor League FA’s continue to move to organizations they believe gives them the best opportunity to make and stick on a ML roster. I see Dickson as an AL candidate for DH.
      I do think Smith goes to OKC and Ruiz to Tulsa. Both need to be pushed.
      DJ Peters is this year’s Verdugo. He is simply gassed.

  2. A truly great defensive catcher is always high on anyone’s list. Will Smith has been compared to Yeager, who fits the bill as a great defender. If Smith is in Yeager’s class any hitting would be gravy. Runs saved = runs created and a great catcher can certainly save a ton of runs. As can a great defensive shortstop, 2nd baseman and centerfielder. Strength up the middle defensively cannot be minimized IMO.

  3. Interesting topic AC, and in Faz wheelhouse. Barlow could be put on the 40 man and he would be a good insurance policy at AAA. Dickson butchered a fly ball in LF in his only start the infamous Padres DH spring training lineup in Sept and never saw the field again. I like the idea of a LH or SH utility infielder to take some AB’s from Forsythe and give JT a day off. If they keep Grandal they may not need one as Barnes could play 2B against some righties. I think Faz will scour the possibilities of finding another Morrow on the cheap.

    They will also be looking for someone in the system to take the next step. Some like Yimi Garcia, coming back from an injury and his ‘spin rate’. Some like Dayton and Liberatore to regain their form, all 3 are coming back from injuries. I like Wilmer Font with his pitch mix as a possible bullpen guy, this link gives Matt Herges opinion of being big league ready right now. He also has a very good K per 9 and K to BB ratio, has a good slider and a splitter along with good velocity.


    1. Vegas, Dayton had TJ surgery August 30, so I would not expect him back before September 2018, probably about the same time as Urias. Both could be September callups.
      I too am curious to see how Garcia performs in ST. He has had the potential to be good.
      I am a Font fan. On August 25, I wrote a piece on Font. He did not perform well at his LAD ML audition, but I am hopeful that he will benefit from a full ST with the big league team.

      1. I liked Yimi. He had a bit of a gopher ball problem at times, but certainly could handle middle relief and to me is an upgrade over Baez if he can return to form. I don’t think we see Dayton at all next year. It could also depend on how crowded the 40-man is come September 1st. Pulling him off the 60-day DL at that time could push someone off that they don’t want to lose. Now Urias looks a head of schedule from all early reports so i do think we see him next season at some point.

  4. At the beginning of last year and again this year I was hoping O’Koyea Dickson was going to get a chance with the Dodgers but there are just too many players ahead of him and his defense isn’t helping. Maybe an American team and a DH role will be better for him. Hope he makes it.

  5. This is both what you want and expect.
    You want:
    A. A front office that people poach from because it proves you are doing something right on a corporate level.
    B. You want a front office that offers opportunity for the people who work there, it creates a good environment and attracts potential replacements.
    C. You want your employees to do well.
    You expect it because the team had the best record and made it to Game 7.
    It will be interesting, given the depth in executives, who replaces Kapler and Alex A. Kapler’s position more important, IMO.
    I hope they all do great.

  6. Watford my Man – Thanks for the info on more defections from the FO…
    AC as always thanks for the Minor Lg. FA updates. I got to chat a little with Dickson a couple ST’s ago and he seems a quality kid and hope the best for him…
    Why not have Farmer as BU catcher?? I like his versatility and we will have a AAA vet ready to fill the slot in case of injury…

    1. Peter, just to be clear, I was not looking for Casali, Hayes, or Pena to be the ML Dodgers backup catcher. If Grandal is traded, I fully expect Farmer to be the backup. Casali, Hayes, or Pena would be the backup at OKC as was Bobby Wilson for 2017. None of those three will (or should) make the 25 man.

    1. I like the creativity, but not so much the proposed moves. I see no reason for the Indians trade. Why would the Dodgers even consider trading Grandal at $7.7M (estimated) and receive in return another catcher, Yan Gomes, at $5.95M. I do not consider Danny Salazar an upgrade over Maeda or Ryu. I see no benefit on taking on the additional payroll in this transaction. I would have no problem including Jordan Sheffield in a transaction that benefited the ML Dodgers, but this does not.
      I am not sure that Ziegler at $9M is an upgrade over Baez. I do like the Dietrich part. But if the Dodgers are going to assume Ziegler’s $9M, I would insist on the Fish expanding the deal and including Ozuna. I am assuming that Verdugo and Alvarez would be key players involved. McCarthy might be a good fit here as well.
      McCarthy to the O’s is a logical landing spot for him. It just makes too much sense for the O’s to latch on to McCarthy. They can absorb the $10M. And at the very least, he would be mid rotation for the O’s. I still would rather sweeten the deal a little to get Hunter Harvey, or a lot for Austin Hays (probably not likely). But if it is soley a salary dump, I am okay with that as well.
      I did not see anywhere in Dustin’s analysis a projected $15M for benefits that need to be considered for luxury tax.
      I do agree that Mike Minor and Brandon Morrow will be given the most effort by the Dodgers to sign as FA. I think he is a little short on both in terms of years and dollars it will take to sign.
      Using Eric Stephen’s analysis that Hawkeye referred to above, the Dodgers will need to make a decision. They can get under the luxury tax by trading McCarthy, Grandal, and an arbitration eligible RP in the $2.0M range, and not taking any additional players in return, dependent on the total contracts for the team controlled players. The magic number is $237M, which should not be an issue under any circumstance. The surtax is expensive, but IMO the ownership can absorb it. That is sheer conjecture, never seeing the organization’s balance sheet. They will not lose 10 spots in the draft as long as they stay under $237M. They can take on the additional contracts of Minor & Morrow, and sensible trades that will benefit the team on the field.
      I think they will definitely get below the luxury tax after 2018, losing dead contracts of AGon ($21.5M), Kazmir ($15M), Arruebarrena ($5M), Toscano ($1.5), and Kendrick ($5M). Players expected to contribute in 2018, Ryu ($7M), Forsythe ($9M), and McCarthy ($10M) & Grandal ($7.7) (if they are not traded), will also come off the books. They should be able to extend Kershaw, and take on other considerable contracts. I do not beleive that Harper or Machado are in the Dodgers plans, but they should be able to afford one of them.
      I can also play devil’s advocate with myself with respect to Darvish. As long as the Dodgers are going to exceed the luxury tax in 2018, they might as well seriously consider signing Darvish this year. While they will be north of $200M, it will not approach $237M. Plus, outside of CK, the only other two potential high cost FA pitchers for 2018-2019 that I would consider would be Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez. Darvish is certainly at least comparable, so the cost would be the surtax for 2018 only, and with CK and Darvish being #1 & #2, they can fill in with Buehler, Wood, Hill, Maeda, White, Urias, Oaks, Alvarez, Santana, Ferguson for #3 – #5, all under team control.
      Trade Grandal, McCarthy, Fields, Avilan, and Joc, and sign Darvish, Minor, and Morrow. That would leave a Toles/Kike’ platoon, but is that really all that bad?

      1. AC

        That sounds pretty good to me.

        I don’t even know that we would have made it to the World Series, without Darvish.

        1. They probably would have made it, but we may have been back to do we or don’t we with Kershaw and short rest.

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