What Winter Meetings?

Well this has been some Hot Stove League for the Dodgers thus far, right?  The Winter Meetings went just about as most expected…the current 40 man roster is the same as before the meetings started.  I don’t count Koehler because he was post Winter Meetings, and the signing is still pending physical.  I never thought Stanton was an option, but it was fun to fantasize.  My only disappointment is that Brandon McCarthy is still part of that roster.  I have no animosity towards Brandon.  It is simply because a $12 AAV for a #6 or #7 starter is a little expensive and unnecessary. It would appear that the Dodgers will be bringing 7 potential starters to Spring Training –Kershaw/Wood/Hill/Maeda/Ryu/McCarthy/Kazmir. The Dodgers would need a lot of split squad games to make sure there was innings to go around.  FAZ is just not going to eat the salaries of McCarthy and Kazmir without giving them a chance.

 

Of course there is still two months before pitchers and catchers report, so there is time to make changes.  I wouldn’t think teams are in a big push to add McCarthy without knowing what the cost is for that level of free agent.  The starting pitching market has not been tapped.  Arrieta and Darvish need to go to see what the ceiling is, then Lynn and Cobb, then the others.  McCarthy’s market will be determined once pitchers likeCashner/Chacin/Cahill/Gallardo/Miley/Volquez/Tillmanare signed.  Teams may be more apt to take McCarthy for a low tiered minor leaguer for one year than any of those pitchers on a two year deal. With the coming holidays, the starting pitching free agent market should go well into January.  So stay tuned.

 

There is no reason to release Kazmir at this time.  He is going to go to Spring Training and show whether he can still pitch or not.  He is a sunk cost so if he cannot pitch he will either be released or placed on the 60 day DL.

 

Right now Maeda and Ryu will have to pitch themselves out of the #4 and #5 slot.  FAZ is not going to rush Buehler (or White or Santana).  Buehler needs to work on his command, and he can do that at OKC.  He will have to adjust again once he makes it to the ML, but he has proven he can make adjustments at each level.

 

There is very little market for catchers, so it appears that FAZ values Grandal more as a co-starting catcher for LAD than the value of any return in a trade.  They can absorb the $7.7M projected arbitration salary.  I also do not truly believe that the Dodgers are ready to name Kyle Farmer as the big league back-up catcher.  Will Smith has had two plate appearances at AA, and while he had a good Fall AZL, he is not ready.  The Dodgers have 4 catchers in their top 30 prospects, and each one should start at a different level. Farmer – OKC, Smith – Tulsa, Ruiz – Rancho, Wong – Great Lakes.  Smith will dictate what happens.  If he shows he is ready to handle AAA, then he will get promoted and the others will follow.  Farmer’s value is more as a utility player anyway, so if Smith is ready, he will not be blocked.

 

I expect A-Gon to be a role player and do not project him as a starting 1B with Bellinger going to LF.  Put Belly at 1B, and leave him there.  Part of A-Gon’s role would be to be a mentor for Belly.  Remember that Grandal can also play 1B (not on a regular basis).  So if A-Gon does go down, and Farmer is tearing it up, I can see Farmer recalled and Grandal as the backup 1B and one of two back-up catchers.  It is not ideal, but they are options that most teams do not have.

 

Both Friedman and Zaidi have said they do not see a need for a LH hitting 2B.  I believe that…until they change their mind.  His splits for 2017 were not pretty – .290/.418/.452/.870 vs. LHP, and .190/.315/.262/.577 vs. RHP.  His three year split (2015-2017) is a lot more balanced….288/.372/.515/.887 vs. LHP, and .250/.338/.374/712 vs RHP.  He started out on fire last year, but could never get back to where he was at after coming back from injury (30 games on the DL).  He is still a plus defender considering Defensive Runs Saved and UZR.  CT3 turns the DP better, but he had a tough time fielding the position compared to Logan.  I still think Jace Peterson should be considered.  I like Lemahieu and Descalso for 2019.

 

Right now, Toles/Joc/Verdugo will compete to share time with Kike’ for LF.  Whoever wins the competition is the LF platoon.  All four can play CF if needed.  Trayce Thompson has zero options remaining, so if he is not considered ML ready at the end of Spring Training, I can see the Dodgers keeping two of the three, predictably Joc and Toles.  Verdugo needs to play every day, so if he is not the everyday LF for LA, he should go back to OKC.  Of course if Mark is right and Trayce is released for Koehler, the decision is easy.

 

We all know where Bums is on Joc.  I am a Joc fan more for his bringing my Trojans out of the locker room before this year’s UCLA game.  He signed a LOI for USC baseball and his dad is a USC alum. Mark is more enthusiastic about a better conditioned Joc than I am.  While conditioning is very important, Joc’s problems are in his head, not his stomach. Perhaps being out of shape may have created a bad 2017, but it is hard to ignore his 3 year splits against LHP of .188/.281/.328/.609.  I pull for the kid, because he is a Dodger.  But he needs to produce…conditioned or not.

 

Outside of Kenley Jansen, the bullpen is an absolute unknown to me. Maeda could be a valuable reliever, but his contract incentives are tied to number of starts and innings pitched.  Both Stewart and Stripling still think of themselves as starters, and want the chance to start.  Very unlikely with LAD.  Is Cingrani anything more than a JP Howell like loogy?  Many think he can be very good, but he has to show it first.  Who knows what to expect from Baez, Fields, Avilan, Font, Garcia, Liberatore, or Paredes.  Maybe one or more of them turns into Brandon Morrow…or Chris Hatcher/Sergio Romo.  Maybe Joe Broussard or Shea Spitzbarth can crack the roster from the minor leagues, or maybe this is the year the Dodgers get some return in their investment in Yaisel Sierra. For 2019, remember the nameJesen Thierren.  I mentioned him two weeks ago as a typical FAZ signee (low risk high reward) and someone to watch. The more I read about him, the more I am convinced the Dodgers may have uncovered another gem.

 

The bullpen will get the most attention (if not all) for 2018, but it will not be known names.  There will be more minor league contracts issued to enhance the competition.  Pat Venditte will have to be awfully good to make the 40 man much less the 25 man. Think more Louis Coleman and Casey Fien. Or Tom Koehler!!

 

What aboutNeftali Perez or David Hernandez?  Could either of them improve under the Rick Honeycutt tutelage?  Dustin Nosler brought up names like Seung-hwan Oh, Shae Simmons, and Ian Krol.  Of those three, Oh might be of some interest.  But where Nosler may have really been a sage is with his list of potential minor league relievers.  Stealing from Dustin:

RHP Richard Rodriguez

“Rodriguez was lights out for Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate this year, recording a 2.42 ERA and 28% strikeout rate out of the bullpen. He got lit up in his five big-league appearances, however, and was outrighted to the minors midway through his September call-up.”

RHP Kevin Comer

“Unlike most of the names here, Comer was actually a prospect once upon a time. The Blue Jays took him 57th overall back in 2012 before trading him to Houston a year later. Comer slowly worked his way through Houston’s system and spent most of 2017 pitching in relief at the Triple-A level. Surely, someone will scoop up this 25-year-old who struck out 27% of batters in the upper levels in 2017.”

RHP Luis Diaz

“I covered Diaz in this space last year after he pitched reasonably well as a 24-year-old starter at Double-A. He ultimately signed with the Angels and rattled off 17 scoreless innings to start 2017. Diaz didn’t fare quite as well following a promotion to Triple-A, though, where his ERA, FIP and xFIP all crested 5.00. Nonetheless, Diaz is a 6-foot-4 25-year-old who posted solid strikeout and walk rates as a starter in the high minors.”

RHP Mark Montgomery

“A former Yankees relief prospect, Montgomery was very effective out of the bullpen in Triple-A this year. In 67 innings with St. Louis’ Triple-A affiliate, he pitched to a stellar 2.43 ERA and struck out 27% of opposing batters.”

 

If they are not already, they should be on the FAZ radar.

 

SS, 3B, CF, and RF need no analysis.  With Corey, JT, CT3, and Yasiel, those are set positions.  I’d include Belly, but with A-Gon in the picture at all, 1B is still something that will be considered.  I just do not think it is plausible for A-Gon to even be considered a co-starter.  But some may want to see A-Gon at 1B and Belly in LF.  I am NOT one of those. However, there are 21.5million reasons why A-Gon at 1B cannot be summarily dismissed.

 

Spring training cannot come soon enough.  The team is good, but is it good enough?  That is why they play the games.

 

This article has 27 Comments

  1. Sorry to repeat myself but I like the quantity in the bullpen for the regular season and suspect that the hot pitcher will move into the setup role meaning that the setup pitcher ould constantly change. Once the playoffs begin, Maeda most likely would be the setup pitcher. Buehler and Urias would slot in at the 6th and 7th innings depending on who was hitting in those innings.
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    The skill level of the second baseman no longer needs to be what it was prior to the Utley rule. The double play is less contested by the runner. Good range and the ability to consistently make the routine play is what is needed at second. That position is more of an offensive position now than it used to be. Think Murphy. Hell, think Toles.
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    Taylor will get plenty of reps at second in spring training. If Toles and Joc look great in spring and Forsythe doesn’t, there is a good chance Taylor becomes the second baseman. So, CF isn’t as settled as many think.
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    I am a Stewart fan and I am beginning to like Oaks. Both have a chance to be in the rotation sometime in 2018.
    Kazmir has a chance of being healthy. He is worth something if he is. McCarthy’s value could increase in spring training. I see some spring training trades.
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    Grandal should stay on the team until mid-season and then see if a trade is a good idea. Smith gets time to develop and Barnes gets to rest more in the first half making him stronger in the second half.

  2. I like Stewart and Oakes as well… but as relievers in 2018. To be successful starters both need another pitch, but both could be lethal out of the pen and Stewart was in 2017 (2.18 ERA)! His difficulty came as a starter with a 5.27 ERA. I don’t think there is much chance he will start.

    Oakes has a natural sinking fastball and good control, but he lacks secondary pitches. I see him as a high-leverage reliever. He hit 95 as a starter so I could see 97-98 as a reliever and he woiuld be a ground ball machine. I think Koehler, Stewart and Oakes could all be in the pen.

  3. Oaks probably starts the year in AAA and Stewart at AAA or in the pen. Stewart in the rotation would mean multiple injuries happened. Kazmir gets a shot but IMO has nothing left to offer. Moving Cody around to make AGon happy is not a smart move unless his play justifies it. I see Kazmir DFA’d at some point and AGon being a highly paid bench piece. Buehler starts in AAA and so does Verdugo, how fast they come up depends on their performance and how the 4 and 5 starters and the OF platoons perform. McCarthy is insurance for Ryu and Maeda at this point or he could pitch out of the bullpen. So could Stripling, Stewart or Font who all can start.

    How is this for LF and 2B:
    RHP-Joc CF, Toles LF, Taylor 2B (and sometimes Barnes)
    LHP-Taylor CF, Kike LF, Forsythe 2B
    Forsythe will also get some starts at 3B with Kike or Barnes handling 2B when Turner has a day off.

    I believe the Dodgers are trying to shop Thompson (or Fields, Avilan, Font etc) to clear a roster spot to make the Koehler trade official. With 2 years of arb left and projecting for $6 M it is a low risk move with some upside.

  4. When my family was younger, my kids always hoped that we would buy a new car, just like their friends’ parents. But alas, we typically bought second hand cars, except for one time we bought a brand new car. That car turned out to be the best car I have ever owned. That’s how I feel about this years winter meetings. I want a new car, but instead, I drive away with a Tim Koehler. He may be serviceable and give me a few miles, but it won’t be long before I need to get another car.
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    If it were up to me, i would do the following: for starting pitching, Kershaw/Woods/Hill & Maeda are penciled in. I would scrap the McCarthy/Kazmir/Ryu program and let Stewart/Stripling and Oaks fight it out for the 5th starter. If FAZ is serious about not standing in the way of the young prospects, let’s go ahead and do it this year. I would start Buehler and Santana at OKC. Ryu can be kept in the pen for debt or traded for a prospect. McCarthy and Kazmir can be given away for a bucket of balls.
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    As for the bullpen – I’m not convinced that Koehler is going to morph into Brandon Morrow. Nothing in his history indicates that is remotely possible. I would go with what we have and perhaps the losers of the Stewart/Oaks/Stripling battle can step it up in the pen. Though if Oaks is not the 5th starter he’ll probably go back to OKC to get innings.
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    Our infield is set. I do not move Bellinger off 1B. If Gonzo is back to his SD Padre form, then, and only then, I would consider moving Bellinger to CF. 2B is Forsythe, plus to be determined. SS Seager and Culberson; 3B Turner/Forsythe and Kike.
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    Outfield – if Bellinger is moved to CF, I put Taylor in left and Puig in right. Joc, Toles and Hernandez are back-ups. If Bellinger stays at 1B, then the 3 reserves battle it out for LF and Taylor moves to CF. Verdugo starts the year at OKC. I’m not sure what to do with Thompson, but unless he has a truly amazing spring, he will probably be traded or go back to OKC.
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    Catcher – My ultimate choice would be to go with Barnes and Farmer. I would trade Grandal for prospects or as a bigger package to get an everyday outfielder (i.e. Inciarte). If Grandal stays, then Farmer goes to OKC to be the everyday catcher.
    .
    As to potential trades – I’m starting to warm to the idea that we match-up with Pittsburgh to obtain Cole and McCutcheon. Not sure what we give up in return, but they can be the players to get us over the hump to a victory in game 7 of the WS next year. I can think of a myriad of reasons not to do to that trade, but it does seem intriguing.
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    Of course, this is all subject to change, I may feel differently about all this after I eat lunch.

    1. Andrew McCutchen will be 32 next year. He is going to decline and he will not hit as many HR in LA. I am not so sure that Toles might do almost as well… and cost a lot less. Cutch also is owed $14.5 million next year.

      Gerrit Cole could be interesting. He’s 27 and could benefit from a move, especially coming to the Dodgers. If it’s a deal where the Dodgers have to take both , then it might take a package of Alvarez, Verdugo and Ryu. The Pirates will not take back much salary and Ryu is $7 million. That move could force the Dodgers to trade Grandal… if there’s a market. You have to find a fit. The Pirates will ask for Buehler and the Dodgers will not do that. They might have to add another prospect.

  5. On A-Gon: If he can return to his 2016 form, he has to play and he can only play 1 position, so Cody hjas to play somewhere else for 2018.

    Whether or not he can play will no be determined until late March.

  6. Sarcasm… the use of irony to mock or convey contempt. I really would like to see the mound raised up to pre Bob Gibson levels. Or maybe legalize the spitter. Or else make the hitters wear dresses (no sexism intended). Help the poor pitchers make a living. Not really clear about why everyone likes the offensive game so much. Suspect it has something to do with how much white males seem to like launching bombs at innocent paying spectators. Or maybe the instant gratification factor instilled in everyone these days. A couple of years ago I went to a game in San Diego and saw Greinke pitch a 1 to nothing shutout, 8 innings, then Jansen game in and struck out the side. I was screaming and cheering like a crazed Dodger fan Go figure). The game only lasted 2 hours and 20 or so minutes and I felt like I had really just seen an artist at work. Why would anyone want less of that. Guess I am just a different sort of cat than most baseball fans.

    1. Shows what I know, I always thought that sarcasm was the ability to insult stupid people without them realizing it!..

      I shall have to re-think my position.


      … and for the record, I am not in favor of all the changes, but they will happen because of the younger generation.

  7. 1. I disagree that 2B is an offensive position. Murphy is the exception. None of the Dodgers 2B candidates can hit with Murphy. If the Dodgers believed that 2B was purely an offensive position, then Willie Calhoun might still be a Dodger. Logan Forsythe is the Dodgers 2B because nobody is better defensively, including Chris Taylor. Forget the idea that the Dodgers exercised Logan’s $9M option to sit him.
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    2. Chris Taylor could move to 2B if the Dodgers had a legit defensive CF, which they do not have. I also do not like the idea of platooning up the middle. So Kike’ and Joc would not work in CF, but may work in LF. It really boils down to who has a better spring, Joc or Toles. Joc cannot hit LHP, and Kike’ cannot hit RHP which make them the ideal platoon. Even considering it is a smaller sampler size, Toles does not seem to have the same problem with hitting LHP that Joc has which makes him a much better choice to be the everyday LF. At least he is not overmatched against LHP like Joc is. No matter how much you want to spin it, a 3 year split against LHP of .188/.281/.328/.609 is not acceptable for a ML OF. I would be fine with Toles/CT3/Puig, with Joc and Kike’ as the #4 and #5.of
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    3. I do not think that Koehler is a replacement for Morrow. However, he could be this year’s version of Joe Blanton.
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    4. Trayce Thompson is not going back to OKC. He has no options remaining so he will either make the Dodgers 25 man (unlikely), be traded, or DFA. If he is DFA, he will opt for free agency rather than go back to OKC. He is going to want a chance to make a 25 man roster at some point next year.
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    5. The Dodgers are not going to take on $20M salary for McCutcheon and Cole. There are conflicting schedules as to what the Dodgers actual salary for luxury tax is, but none of them show the Dodgers can assume $20M in salary and not exceed $237M. I like Cole, but the Pirates would have to take back a comparable salary (Ryu and a reliever would work), and a boat load of prospects, probably starting with Buehler. If they would accept Verdugo, White, & Sheffield, I would consider it.
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    6. Grandal is not going to be traded at the deadline. No contending team is going to take a catcher at mid-season unless their starting catcher is hurt. The relationship between catcher and pitcher is too important. Jonathan Lucroy was different because he had an extra year. Grandal does not. If he is not traded before the season, then he will be in competition with Barnes for the starting job in ST.

  8. Well now – this is definitely a trade that I saw coming. Welcome back Matt Kemp!!! I think we just save a few dollars in payroll.

  9. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Kemp will never see the field as a Dodger. No place to put him, he is a liability defensively, and let’s face it, if you have been following FAZ at all the last few years, you KNOW the other shoe is gonna drop and they will send Kemp off for what they really wanted. Stay tuned, this is just about to get real interesting. Possible package deal to send Kemp to the AL as a DH for some pitching? Just sayin.

  10. Kemp owed $21 mil in 2018 and 2019 (haha and granted we were gona pay 4mil of it anyway, so he’s really a $16 mil player). WE save $30 mil this coming season.

    1) it gets us under that luxury penalty which is key
    2) sets us up to do something big (maybe bring back Yu or get Arrieta?)
    3) doesn’t cost us 1 prospect
    4) dumps worthless crap like macarthy, kazmir, and agone’s contract

  11. I’m in my car and out and about. Just heard that the Dodgers Re-acquired Matt Kemp for Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kaznir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson, and maybe I heard that Gonzo was DFA’d by the Braves. I think the Dodgers also included cash in the deal.

    Sounds like a deal I like, but need some time to digest it. In any case, I think this deal gets a lot of cash off the books. And Kemp, assuming he stays, could be a valuable right handed platoon bat in LF. Believe he hit 19 bombs last year, and more in 2016.

  12. They say it is revenge neutral. I guess I do not understand. We are trading 3 bad contracts for one bad contract. We are paying part of Kemp’s contract now. Agon has already been designated for assignments. Wow. Now we have four outfielders trying out for left field.

  13. If this plays out like I think, the Dodgers might move Kemp for as much as an AL team is willing to pay, but it should get them under the $197 Million Payroll Threshold.

    I would not hold my breath that they take on a contract that will get them over it.

    Essentially, Kemp counts $20 million to their payroll. If they can get half that, then great.

    FAZ is serious about setting the Luxury Tax Penalty ! WOW! Who saw this coming? There more to it…

  14. There is also the possibility that Kemp could stay. Lots of fans would love it.

    On more possibility: A-Gon comes back… or goes to SD.

    There’s a lot going on here.

  15. Will Kemp stay or go? I have no clue what FAZ will do next , but this is a BLOCKBUSTER!

    Who the hell saw this coming? OMG!

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