With apologies to the late great David Bowie. I continue to read about all the possible changes coming to the Dodgers, and I have zero comfort that any one of them will ever transpire more than another. I do believe that there will be at least one significant change, maybe more, which is why the negative comments on the Reds trade are curious, unless it gives those who just do not like anything about Andrew Friedman something to chomp their gums at. It also seems obvious that for those who dislike anything about Friedman, whatever he ends up doing, that will be the wrong move as well. For this post, I just want to concentrate on RH bats.
I am finishing this after reading the discussion about a proposed acquisition of Harper, Kluber, and Realmuto in yesterday’s blog. I have no illusions that this will be consummated, but I do believe the Dodgers could acquire an outfielder and catcher. I have always believed that the Dodgers would be right at (or barely above) the CBT threshold. But not $27MM above it. If I am wrong, well…good for the fans, and I will have my fill of crow.
The one thing we do know is that the Dodgers are currently more than $24MM below the CBT threshold in 2019 and have only $96.7MM committed in 2020. They have the ability to make a splash this year and be back in total financial control next year with more players from the minor leagues ready to make an impact (Lux, Ruiz, Smith, Santana, May, Kasowski, Sborz, White). They can move in many directions and I do think that Friedman is in the driver’s seat for most of them. He is going to continue to be patient and wait for the right time.
The one acquisition that I think the Dodgers do need to make is to trade for JT Realmuto, but without giving up Keibert Ruiz. What would it take to get Realmuto? I believe that as Dodger fans we have a tendency to overrate the minor leaguers. I therefore generally end up proposing an overpay (IMO). But I do think that it will take an overpay to get Realmuto, just not one that requires Ruiz. Jeter still wants to compete this year so maybe a deal can be made that starts with Joc and Barnes as ML players going back to Miami, then maybe Smith and other(s). If they want a pitcher in return, I would not walk away if Alvarez was included. But 2 ML players with multiple years control and two top 11 prospects should get the job done and not hurt the Dodgers. The Fish desperately need a LH hitting OF and we do know that Donnie Baseball loves Joc. Joc has two years control, the same as Realmuto, and would hit against all pitching either showing that he can hit LH pitching and become a very valuable trade chit at the deadline or next winter, or prove he is a platoon player who will play well with 400-500 PA against RHP. Two other players that Miami may be interested in are RHP Brock Stewart and RHRP Josh Fields. Josh Fields gives Miami a useful reliever at the deadline when the value gets higher for teams in contention (something Miami is strategically looking for), and there is no way that Brock Stewart makes Dodgers 25 man. There should be enough possibilities to get the trade consummated. If they can make the deal without Smith, all the better, but doubtful.
Austin Barnes would give the Fish a controllable catcher. Son of Tim Wallach or not, the Marlins are not going to turn the starting catcher position over to Chad Wallach. But the catcher prize will be Will D. Smith for their future. I do think he is a catcher first, but I do believe he is a ML catcher ready no later than 2020. I do think his offense will be adequate, just not at the level of Ruiz. Alvarez is a wild card. I do believe he would be happier in Miami than in LA, so why not make him and Miami happy.
I would be willing to trade Joc because I believe the Dodgers will be trading for or signing an OF this winter. Whether it is Harper or Pollock as FA, or a trade for Castellanos, one of the 3 are probably heading to LA. My preference is Pollock because of the defense he brings. Maybe he only plays 130 games but with CT3, Kike’, Bellinger, Toles, and Verdugo, there are plenty of players to spell Pollock if something happens. Getting Pollock also moves Belli to 1B making the defense even stronger. That would allow the team to move Muncy to 2B and while he isn’t a defensive star, he is not as bad as Daniel Murphy, and probably at least as good as Howie Kendrick. Admittedly I would like to see what Muncy can do and try to replicate 2018, because Lux is only a year away, and if DJLM wants 3 years that should be a no.
I know some do not like the idea of trading Muncy, but if the Dodgers do sign Pollock to play CF and move Belli to 1B, that only leaves Muncy to play 2B. Although it may not be such a horrendous idea to try him in LF. It may take 1,000 balls a day, but why not at least give it a try. Late in the game, CT3 or Kike’ go in for defense. The Dodgers are willing to do so with Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty, why not Max Muncy? If you are going to defensively hide a bat, LF is perfect.
I do not think Harper is the missing bat that the Dodgers need to win a WS. He wasn’t with a better offense with the Nats. But he will be a draw for the Dodgers. While his baseball skills will be in full display, it is his marketability that would be a driving factor. He would be an investment. Signing Harper to front-loaded or back-loaded contracts is irrelevant. Nor does the number of opt outs. The only thing that matters for CBT threshold is AAV, and he wants more than Greinke ($34.4MM). Are you willing to spend $175MM for 5 years? That would put LAD $11MM over the threshold with very little more they could do and still stay under the first surtax threshold ($20MM over). $20MM over the threshold will cost the Dodgers another $4.5MM. Is Harper worth $40MM this year? That would also preclude them for bidding on Arenado next year. How does $18MM for a number 5 in the rotation look now?
Maybe the Dodgers do trade for Castellanos. What the trade would look like would depend as to what other moves they would make. It would make no sense to trade for Castellanos if they do not make other moves. They could have stayed with Puig for one year if that is all they are going to do. I think Castellanos would be a complimentary target with Realmuto and/or Pollock.
So, Harper alone, or Realmuto, Castellanos, and Pollock. If they can pull this off:
1B – Bellinger (L)
2B – Muncy (L)
SS – Seager (L)
3B – JT (R)
LF – Castellanos (R)
CF – Pollock (R)
RF – Verdugo (L)
C – Realmuto (R)
CT3, Kike’, Freese, 2ndcatcher. Of course, that makes the bench too RH. So, nothing is perfect.
Or, switch out Castellanos in LF and put CT3 out there and Toles to the bench. That is probably more realistic, a much better defensive lineup, and it stays under the CBT threshold. It is not as prolific of a lineup, but it is more flexible and much better defensively. It fits.
SP and RP would have no impact, as I would not expect any significant pitcher to be moved. I doubt they can pull that off, but it is possible, and if there is a way, I am sure Andrew will find a way to make it work. I know every time a read a new report, I do end up changing my mind if anything is at all possible.
My #1 pick is still Corey Kluber, but I will conjecture how that can work in another post. For right now, I just wanted to discuss potential RH bats.