Collusion or Just Frugal and Prudent

So far, this year is beginning to mimic last year a bit. There has been some movement, but it is for the lesser thought of FA or in one case a player who wants a bigger pay day next year (Josh Donaldson). It seems that a lot of teams are looking for the trade route first before even considering a high cost FA. Look for Harper and Machado to go into 2019 before they are signed, especially Harper. The Phillies are looking to maybe get Jean Segura instead of Machado. Yes, they say that they may be interested in both, but I think that is more posturing than anything else. I think they would be fine with Segura and say Patrick Corbin rather than Machado. I think they will wait to go all out on Trout before they spend the money on Harper. The Mets needed a closer, and there were certainly a few to choose from in the FA ranks. The one they were supposedly originally tied to was Craig Kimbrel. But he is looking for a 6 year and $90MM+ deal. I do not even think the Braves or BoSox are interested in him at that price. So, Van Wagenen went to Seattle to see about Diaz. The conversation probably went something like: Brodie – “Jerry, this is Brodie Van Wagenen. What will it take to get Edwin Diaz?”Dipoto – “Hi Brodie, Robinson Cano and his contract want to go back to NY, so it starts there.”Brodie – “OK – We will take Cano off your hands along with Diaz. But you are going to need to take Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak as part of the trade, and still pony up some cash. Now let’s talk about the rest of the return.” The deal is:Robinson Cano – $120MM less $20MM estimated to be paid by Mariners and Edwin Diaz; forJay Bruce – $26MMAnthony Swarzak – $8MMJarred Kelenic (Mets #3)Justin Dunn (Mets #4)Gerson Bautista It boils down to the Mets getting Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz for $66MM, while the Mariners pick up three prospects a 1B/RF and RHRP and save $66MM but lose Edwin Diaz. And the Mets get to keep 2B Jeff McNeil. That makes Cano the Mets 1B. Let’s see if we might be able to factor in what the cost of Edwin Diaz is to the Mets. It is clear the Mets believe they can win this year. Doubtful, but they think so. Jed Lowrie is projected to make $30MM/3 years, Daniel Murphy is projected to make $20MM/2 years, and Brian Dozier is projected for $10MM/1 year. It looks like $10MM per year is what is being considered for the top of the 2B. I think it would be reasonable to assume that Cano could get what Lowrie is projected at; $30MM/ 3 years. That would then seem to calculate where the Mets get Diaz for $36MM/4 years. Yes, they lose Kelenic, Dunn, and Bautista of which, Kelenic would appear to be the biggest loss (only?). Craig Kimbrel is looking for a 6-year contract with similar AAV’s to Chapman ($17.2MM) and Jansen ($16MM). Even at $15mm per year, that would obligate the team to $90MM. So, the Mets are basically getting 3 years of Cano and 4 years of Diaz for $66MM (and three prospects), and somebody may sign Kimbrel for $90MM.  If Cano contributes anything in years 4 and 5, that would be icing. It does not end with Kimbrel. Look at what may be happening with Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos. Teams are looking for less expensive alternatives for the backstop. Mike Zunino, Yan Gomes, and Omar Narvaez were acquired through trade, while Kurt Suzuki, Jeff Mathis, and Brian McCann signed insignificant free agent contracts. JT Realmuto is being heavily discussed. It now appears that the Yankees may lead the pack with Gary Sanchez being the return. For the Marlins that is 4 years of control over 2 years. The Yankees get a “better” overall catcher. The next best look may come from the Astros who are now willing to include OF Kyle Tucker but not Forrest Whitley. The LHH Tucker would be perfect for Miami. Tucker is the overall #5 MLB prospect. The Dodgers do not have anyone to compete with Tucker. I do not see the Mets, Giants, or Brewers as serious trade partners for Realmuto. It is more likely that Martin Maldonado, Jonathan Lucroy, Nick Hundley, Matt Wieters, James McCann, and Chris Hermann will sign before Yasmani Grandal. It is also more likely that Wilson Ramos will sign before Grandal for less money than he was hoping for. There are not that many teams looking for a $40MM+ multiyear catcher AND losing a draft pick. The Giants should (and probably will) re-sign Hundley, while I see Maldonado as a more likely fit for LAD. Grandal could very well be this year’s Mike Moustakas. For further illustration, below is the current state of signed Free Agents since the WS ended October 28. Of the original group of Top 50 Free Agents as defined by MLBTR, ignoring Ryu who never became a FA, the only players that have signed are Josh Donaldson (#13), Garrett Richards (#43), Jesse Chavez (#44), CC Sabathia (#45), and Kurt Suzuki (#48). 
Currently Signed Free Agents
Ruben Alaniz1 Year$555K
Jesse Chavez2 Years$8MM
Lonnie Chisenhall1 Year$2.75MM
Josh Donaldson1 Year$23MM
Eduardo Escobar3 Years$21MM
David Freese1 Year$4.5MM
Brett Gardner1 Year$7.5MM
Jung-ho Kang1 Year$3MM
Jeff Mathis2 Years$6.25MM
Brian McCann1 Year$2MM
Matt Moore1 Year$2.5MM
Dylan Moore1 Year$555K
Steve Pearce1 Year$6.25MM
Garret Richards2 Years$15.5MM
Trevor Rosenthal1 Year$7MM
Kyle Ryan1 Year$555K
CC Sabathia1 Year$8MM
Kurt Suzuki2 Years$10MM
Adam Wainright1 Year$2MM
Minor League Contracts
Peter Bourjos
Pete Kozma
Jace Peterson
Jake Smolinski
 With the number of non-tender middle infielders, the current list of free agent 2B just got larger, which could drive the price for FA middle infielders down. I do not see a lot of activity in pursuing 4 top 50 FA (Jed Lowrie, Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier, and DJ LeMahieu), and one super utility guy (Marwin Gonzalez). That does not include the next best FA middle infielders, Asdrubal Cabrera, Josh Harrison, Jose Iglesias, Logan Forsythe, and Ian Kinsler. The non-tenders include Ronald Torreyes, Tim Beckham, Yangervis Solarte, Chris Owings, and Jonathan Schoop. That is 15 middle infielders that played MLB last year, and many will not in 2019. It may not be a lot of high quality FA players, but there are a lot of serviceable free agents. The big money teams are being more frugal, and the number of real contenders is probably not very long. Therefore, the number of teams looking to spend a lot of money on potential game – changers appears to be but a few. The Red Sox and Yankees look to be in on one big contract each, the Brewers will look at Keuchel, and Philly is an unknown. The Dodgers will not sign any large dollar FA this year. Econ 101 teaches about the Law of Supply and Demand, and what we have in 2019 free agency is a larger supply than demand. But that is not going to stop agents like Scott Boras screamCOLLUSION. For the last couple of years, teams are being far more discerning when it comes to high priced long term deals. Craig Kimbrel may ask for 6 years $90MM contract, but most contenders have a closer, and those that do not are not going to spend that kind of money when Andrew Miller, Jeurys Familia, David Robertson, Adam Ottavino, Brad Brach, Joe Kelly, Kelvin Herrera, Zach Britton, Cody Allen and a host of other competent late inning relievers are all capable of having a good year, and will not approach that kind of contract request.  I do not see a team being so stupid as to pay $90MM for 6 years of Craig Kimbrel. Tomorrow I will take a look at the known non-tenders and see if the Dodgers could (should) be interested in any of them or any other free agent.  

This article has 36 Comments

  1. The only players that I think the Dodgers could sign are:
    Catcher.- Martin Maldonado,
    Set up.- Kelvin Herrera
    2 Base.- Marwin Gonzalez

    And trade Wood, Maeda, Puig and Joc for prospects, a pitcher or someone who can play third base!

  2. I haven’t heard the C Word yet, but I think we will, I don’t think it’s collusion, rather when the reward you get is less than the damage done to the roster over time, you no longer give out stupid long deals. I really think Grandal could be back on a 1-year deal. Nobody is going to give Kimbrell 6 years/$90 million. He’s lucky if he gets haf that. Marchad is not getting much over $200 million and Harper ain’t getting $300 million. GM’s were really stupid for a while, but they are becoming more and more like Andrew Friedman.

  3. I heard a funny story on MLB Radio yesterday. It seems that Adrian Beltre texted the Rangers GM and asked him to call him. When he did, Beltre told him that he had an offer to return to the Dodgers and he was going to play his last season there to try and win a Championship. After a long pause, he said “Just Kidding” and announced he was retiring. If you didn’t know, Adrian is a huge practical joker. I will still never forgive DePukedesta for letting him go. Adrian should have been a lifetime Dodger, like Clayton and Corey.

  4. Great article once again, but with clubs being frugal and smart by not making “dope fiend” free agent moves, it underscores the belief of some (me included) that our FO has squandered opportunities to sell when a player has trade value as opposed to holding onto a player until his value diminishes to the point you can’t get much in return.

    Brock Stewart, Stripling, Wood, Joc, Grandal and Puig come to mind as trade pieces that could have been made available in the past to bring something back. I don’t know who that might be and there will be those who offer a better counterpoint to my position with specifics, but I can’t recall a multi-player trade involving 25-man roster additions/subtractions in quite some time.

    Andrew and Farhan’s first year together they offered Dee Gordon at a time his value was significant and got a very good return in Heany and Hernandez. They also traded Kemp to the Padres and got us Grandal.

    I’ll probably read tomorrow where Andrew traded Verdugo, Stripling and someone else on the 25 man roster for pitching (SP or BP) and a 2B but it just seems he’s reluctant to part with talent on the current day roster. If the Dodgers are not going to be players in the FA market, they need to find a way to swap talent for talent with similar AAV but new pieces need to be acquired to put us over the top. Yes, the team currently constructed is good enough to win the NL West, but going deep into the playoffs and to the WS is questionable with the current collection of talent.

    Bargain basement hunting for the likes of Quackenbush, McReery and Tom Koehler is not going to get it done.

    1. Of Brock Stewart, Stripling, Wood, Joc, Grandal and Puig, I would say that the Dodgers don’t make the World Series two years in a row without them (excluding Stewart). Friedman almost traded Puig for Braun and during his tenure with the Dodgers Yasmani has been one of the top catchers in the game. I guess they could have traded Wood at the All-Star Game in 2017, but he was filthy and then lost his velocity. Do you trade a guy when he looks like an Ace and your Ace is injured? Everyone thinks Wood is injured.

      I do not think Joc has much value. Stripling has value, but after his second half meltdown, I think GM’s want to wait and see if he really was tipping his pitches. Brock Stewart’s ceiling, before last year was as a #4 or #5 starter. Brock Stewart was Trevor Oakes – nice but of little value. If he works out of the pen, maybe he can regain his 97 MPH an IF HE CAN WRAP HIS HEAD AROUND IT (That’s the big IF). he could be a nice bullpen piece, but he’s never had much value.

      1. I will give you that Grandal should not have been moved because the Dodgers did not have anyone else.
        Stripling is controlled for four more years. He is not even arbitration eligible. He should be retained. But he has enough experience that a decision needs to be made as to what he should be…Starter of Reliever. I know it is a team game and these players are getting paid a lot of money to just play a game so “shut up and do what you are assigned”. Sometimes a team should also do what is right for the player. The player may also be happier doing what he is allowed to do and maybe, just maybe, do better if he is more comfortable.
        That is what went wrong with Brock Stewart. Maybe he should be a reliever, but he did not want to be. So now he is going to need to be released and getting nothing in return. Yes he may have been the equivalent of Trevor Oaks, but Trevor Oaks was turned into Scott Alexander. There will be no Scott Alexander for Brock Stewart. Once the player has said no to what you want them to be, move on.
        Joc has more value for a team that will play him every day than as a platoon LF with the Dodgers. I think he would fit in well with Miami, Oakland, Baltimore, and SF just off the top of my head. With another year as a platoon player telling the world that he cannot hit LHP, he will have absolutely zero value going into his FA year. Why not try to maximize a return for Joc while he has 2 years control. Baltimore needs LHH and the Dodgers need RHH. Why not try a Joc for Austin Hays trade. A $4.3MM platoon LF is quite a bit, when you have a team full of less costly utility players.
        The Dodgers have no near MLB ready RHH OF other than DJ Peters (and I would question his MLB readiness). So why not move some excess and get a near MLB ready RH bat.

  5. Good stuff AC and speaking of frugal, I checked out prices on the Stones @ Rose Bowl, Ouch… I retired from the mega stadiums and just fondly remember the Stones in people friendly venues like the Santa Monica Civic, Forum etc. Up close and crazy… Mick, a lil more bluesy then and brought out the harmonica more… Boy he could play that blues harp!!!

    1. I go back far enough to watch the Stones at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino. $5.00 – $7.00 per ticket! It was a great venue for several years and all manner of top bands/entertainers passed through there. It was hit by a plane in 1981 and had to be torn down. Many a Saturday night was spent in that big old quonset hut!!

  6. Great takes and pot stirring this morning AC. I find the non tenders interesting, especially Fiers, Boxberger and Strickland. If anyone is interested in Dodger prospects it would be Zaidi and the Giants where a quantity for quality deal makes sense for both teams. Madbum and Posey are the 2 biggest chips. AA made the Kemp deal shortly after moving to the Braves last year, could the Giants and Dodgers do business?

    I have been on record saying no to moving Puig and Muncy UNLESS the return is quite tasty-like a Kluber type #1. I would also do Vedugo and May plus Rios and a young C not named Ruiz if the Tribe prefers prospects. This is a guy who gives you 200 innings and 200 K’s every year with a nice contract for 3 years and beefs up a post season rotation big time. Maybe a 3rd team is needed for Puig or Wood to offset salary. For the love of a WS Title make something happen for Kluber! How about CT3 and Stripling plus Verdugo and Wood? Steep yes but Kluber is the prize. I am not a fan of Bauer when he is 1 year away from hitting the market but he is a lot cheaper this year, would require a lesser package and would get a draft pick back when he declines a QO. He might pitch lights out in a walk year but comes with some baggage.

    Please don’t tell me the team will settle for a stopgap C for a year (or just roll w/Barnes) and a journeyman middle relief guy and stick with what they have for another year while prospects develop. On the other hand if they can’t get value for Puig or Wood or Kemp or Hill maybe just keep them all for another year or dump them at the deadline. I have no idea what Freidman will do but my gut tells me he wants to make his own splash and put his stamp on this years team-World Series or Bust!

    1. The biggest problem (or opportunity) is finding a partner who wants what the Dodgers have and have what the Dodgers want! It all boils down to that!

  7. AC

    Another good and thorough job!

    I was wondering what catcher or catchers were left, that we might go after, so thank you for addressing this.

    I think your right that this off season will drag out much like last off season did.

  8. My prediction is (and I’m really going out on a limb here): The Dodgers will do something between now and the start of Spring Training! I just don’t know what that is, but I do predict that it will be something we didn’t see coming. Also, it will make financial sense for the team and the owners.
    Great post again AC! It’s interesting how financial common sense from one perspective is considered collusion from another. It would be interesting to see how “a dope fiend signing” actually affects the economics of the signing team in terms of increased attendance, more advertising revenue, better marketing opportunities. I agree with Mark, that these signings typically do not work out from baseball standpoint, but I wonder if they actually help a team make a profit. For example, we can debate the “Punto Trade” until the cows come home, but there is no denying that Adrian Gonzalez helped the Dodgers in several ways that went outside of the box score. His connection with the Latino community was immense and many in that community are die hard Dodger fans.

  9. There is talk about a Segura for the Phillies J.P. Crawford trade. Machado would then have to play third for the Phillies if they were to sign him and make this trade.
    If the Mets obtain Kluber they will probably trade Syndergaard. The Mets are making things happen. Bruce is gone and Cespedes is still out for a lot of the season. Does that make room for Puig. Mets need offense and defense to go along with their pitching.
    Would the Dodgers trade power for speed and defense by trading Muncy for Whit Merrifield? Both have short histories of success with success coming for Merrifield even later than Muncy’s. Merrifield hit lefties last year big time.
    If Taylor repeats 2018, he is a platoon player and backup shortstop. BTW, I would still offer Muncy, Lux, Taylor, and Hill for Torres. Freidmand and Cashman can figure out who else has to be involved.

    1. Would you have traded Corey Seager for those players? I sure wouldn’t. Seager is untouchable as far as I am concerned. That is how NYY think of Gleyber Torres, who as a 21 year old hit .271/.340/.480/.820 with 24 HR and 77 RBI. Yes he was a 2B, but he is a SS who came up while Didi Gregorius was the SS. Torres will be the SS to start the season until Didi gets back. Torres learned to play 2B as a ML. I think he is a keeper. You would have as much success getting Torres out of NY as you would with Judge.

    2. My first thought in hearing that BVW might basically exchange Thor for Kluber was OK let’s go after Syndergaard. Then I started wondering what does Brodie know that we don’t? He’s Syndergaard’s former agent so knows him very well, yet he’s willing to give up a 26 year old for a 33 year old and they each have 3 years of control remaining. Over those 3 years, Syndergaard will probably be cheaper than Kluber. Does he view Kluber as a much better pitcher over the next three years than Syndergaard? Maybe it’s as simple as fear of injury to Syndergaard but if so even that fear must be based on some very good knowledge. So, I guess what I’m saying is that where I was previously all in on trying to get Thor, now I’m a little skittish.

  10. If the dodgers can get Kluber they need to get him. How does that fit with Friedman saying the dodgers lost the World Series due to offense. As mark said in a post good pitching stops good hitting but the dodgers starters outside of buehler did not do that. Ryu should have only started at dodger stadium and once again kershaw and Jansen were awful. It should surprise no one what kershaw didn’t do but if Jansen would have saved games when he had a chance the series would have been much closer. Back to now if our offense was the problem how is trading puig helpful? I don’t know if the Yankees are a match but maybe a three way to get Stanton.

    1. Hill pitched pretty well too, but seemed to fall out of favor for whatever reason. Kluber would be a legit #1 with Buehler #2 and Kershaw #3 and pick one from Ryu, Hill or Urias for #4. I think it would be Ryu if he is healthy since he won’t go to the pen in the playoffs. That rotation looks a whole lot better to me and slides Kershaw into a matchup against a #3. That would also make Wood, Maeda or Hill expendable, I prefer to keep Stripling around because he’s cheap and pitches well out of the pen or starting.

  11. Yes hill did pitch great! How about this trade: Miami gets Sanchez, Acevedo, Adams, wood, Santana yankees get: Realmuto,hill,Smith dodgers get: Stanton,green,Castro, plus 30 million from yanks. Marlins get a replacement c plus 3 young rh plus a lefty to help them through next year, salary relief with Castro gone. Yankees get the stud c and stud lefty for one year, and a near ready mlb c or backup. Dodgers get a rh bat, rh reliever, stopgap 2b, salary relief immediately. This may not be the trade but a good framework.

  12. I do not remember if it was Jaime Jarrin who said it would be a dream to see the Seager brothers play together …

    The latest from the American League…

    ”If the trade-happy Mariners have their way, third baseman Kyle Seager will be the next veteran to depart. The club’s willing to do “whatever it takes” to deal Seager, Buster Olney of ESPN writes (subscription required). Long one of the majors’ most underrated players, the 31-year-old Seager is coming off an uncharacteristically rough season and still has a guaranteed $57MM left on his contract. Seager’s presence is no longer needed in Seattle, which is rebuilding and trying to cut payroll, though it could be difficult to deal him on the heels of such a disappointing campaign. With that in mind, Olney suggests the Mariners could either swap Seager for another team’s unwanted contract or package him with one of their best remaining assets (Mitch Haniger or Jean Segura) to get his money off the books.”

  13. Just an out of the box thought: MLTR states Kyle Seager may be the next Mariner player to be traded. Wouldn’t it be cool if he was traded to the Dodgers and play next to his brother. Kemp would have to be in the mix of players. BTW Seager has played 2B in 2011-2012. Just a thought.

    1. I like that idea. The only problem is that he is a lefty and doesn’t have great splits against LHP. Justin Turner is signed for two more years.

      1. I understand that Mark. I just thought it would be neat to have two brothers playing next to each other and it would open a spot in the OF for Verdugo. It would have nothing to do with JT since I proposed KS playing 2B. He could also play 3B when JT needs a break.

    2. I have thought long and hard as to how to get Kyle Seager as a Dodger. He had a horrid year last year, and a not so good year in 2017. Before that he was pretty darn good. He has 162 game average of 25 HRs and 85 RBIs. Overpriced at $56MM over 3 years, plus a max $3MM 2022 option buyout.. Some are talking about the potential of including Mitch Haniger to move Seager’s contract. I think Dipoto would be fired if he tried that. Moving Diaz was not well received and if he even considers moving Haniger…it could turn ugly in Seattle.
      If the Dodgers believe that Seager can get back to the run producer he used to be, he could be worth the risk. Especially with both Seager brothers together, they could feed off of each other. They are a very close family. I know he is LH and I know he would have to play 2B. The Dodgers already have a LHH 2B who is probably a better option next year. Logically it is not a match. But this is the Seager brothers we are talking about. This is as much about Corey as it is about Kyle. I would consider Wood and Alvarez for Seager and $6.86MM cash. That would bring Kyle’s AAV down to $12MM. Financially, the Dodgers would absorb about $40MM but have Kyle Seager for three years.
      It absolutely will not happen, but let’s keep going. Puig, Smith, Maeda, Stewart, and DJ Peters or Jeren Kendall for Kluber. Kemp and Hill to NYY for Stanton and $30MM. Sign Lucroy or Maldonado as a backup catcher to Barnes. Joc to Baltimore for Austin Hays.
      Jensen/Baez/Cingrani/Alexander/Floro/Fields/Chargois/Garcia (Ferguson, Urias, Santana to OKC to start).
      1B – Muncy/Freese
      2B – Kyle Seager/Kike’
      SS – Corey Seager
      3B – JT
      LF – Verdugo/CT3
      CF – Bellinger/CT3/Kike’
      RF – Stanton
      C – Barnes/Lucroy or Maldonado or McCann
      No, I do not have a place for Andrew Toles. I haven’t played with the finances yet, but I do not believe they would be over the CBT threshold. What the heck. As long as we are playing fantasy baseball while we wait for anything realistic to happen, why not? In my best Linda Richman…Talk amongst yourselves.

      1. I would rather see Kyle at third base and Turner at first base to keep the Seagers together on the left side, or Kyle at first and keep Turner at third. That means Muncy would be included and Freese and Seager would platoon at first. Muncy, Maeda, and Puig for Seager and Mitch Haniger.
        No to Stanton and Austin Hays.
        Wood and Verdugo for Syndargaard.

        1. None of it is going to happen. There is virtually no way the Dodgers are speaking to Seattle about Kyle Seager. It was just fun to think about.
          No to both Stanton and Hays? It appears you do not like any RH bats. You know you want Puig moved.
          Just because you want Syndergaard does not mean the Mets want Verdugo or Wood. Why would they want 1 year of Wood for $9MM+ when Syndergaard is due to make around $6MM and has 3 years control. The Mets do not need any LHH OF. Their two primary corner OFs (Conforto & Nimmo) are both LH and will be 26 next season. Nimmo can play CF if need be, but he is really a RF, just as is Verdugo. And no, it will not be Puig and Wood. The Mets are not going to take on $20MM of salary for two one year players to give up three years of Thor.

          1. … but I am sure that the Angles would take Wood, Hill, Pederson, Kemp and Puig for Mike Trout! That’s as likely as the above trade.

    1. I will wait to see if Carlos Santana is going with JP Crawford. I have also heard that Segura only wants to play SS which is one reason he was traded to Seattle to begin with. If he insists on playing SS, he would not fit in LA, and I do not see how this helps with Machado going to Philly. He said he would be willing to play 3B ONLY for NYY. But he may have lost a big bidder. I think this makes Philly more likely to go for Corbin than Machado. The number of teams that may be interested in Machado is dwindling.

    1. I cannot see it. The FO does not value speed on the base paths that highly, but they do value OBP. Hamilton has a career OBP south of .300. I do not see Billy Hamilton in Dodger blue next year.

  14. Segura going to the Phillies it sounds like. Machado may have to play 3B after all. I guess he could play SS for a year in NY. The NL East sure is re-tooling after being the doormat of the NL the few seasons.

      1. Phillies say they’re still interested in signing Machado to play 3rd, Harper in the OF now that Hoskins will move to 1B, and Patrick Corbin.

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