I have no idea what is in the plans for the Dodgers over the next 6 weeks before pitchers and catchers report, if anything. I know it seems logical that the Dodgers would do something, but everybody is waiting to see where Machado and Harper are going to go. The Dodgers do not appear to be the leading team for any of the major FA (except for Grandal). But that does not surprise me because Friedman does not talk about what they may do. If they do something, it will probably be something that was not thought of. The Dodgers have 37 on the 40 man so there is room for players. Plus, Brock Stewart is undoubtedly going to be moved.
Do the Dodgers have enough confidence in Austin Barnes to make him the regular everyday catcher? They are not going to give the Marlins what they want for Realmuto. If the ‘Stros want to trade Kyle Tucker ++, then more power to them. Catcher is the one position where an upgrade is seen as most critical, but maybe not to Friedman.
Currently, the Dodgers are structured as follows:
1B – Max Muncy
2B – Kike’ Hernandez
SS – Corey Seager
3B – Justin Turner
LF – Chris Taylor (cannot be an all LH hitting OF)
CF – Cody Bellinger
RF – Alex Verdugo
C – Austin Barnes
Bench – David Freese (R), Joc Pederson (L), Andrew Toles (L), Rocky Gale (R)
SP – Kershaw/Buehler/Hill/Ryu/Maeda
RP – Stripling/Ferguson/Kelly/Cingrani/Alexander/Floro/Baez
Closer – Jansen
Of course there are multiple moving pieces, especially with Kike’, CT3, and Joc. I like the LF defense of CT3, and Kike’ can be a good defensive 2B. The bullpen is totally unsettled. Is Ferguson going to go back to OKC to be a starting pitcher again? Josh Fields does have an option, but not JT Chargois or Yimi Garcia or Brock Stewart. And while Cingrani, Alexander, Floro, and Baez all have options, I do not see any of Chargois/Garcia/Stewart as an upgrade. If Fields is not traded, I can see Ferguson going back to OKC and Fields on the 25 man coming out of ST. That is not my preference, but nobody in the LAD organization is calling me asking for my opinion.
When does Julio Urias make his 2019 debut? Starter or reliever? I cannot think of another MLB ML bullpen with 4 LHRP. The Dodgers could have Alexander/Cingrani/Ferguson/Urias all in the bullpen at the same time.
How do the Dodgers make up for the loss of 81 HRs and 258 RBIs – Machado (13/42), Grandal (24/68), Puig (23/63), and Kemp (21/85)? A full season of Seager and JT should give the Dodgers some of that back. The duo had 16 last year and would probably be near the 50 mark for a full season. So that is 34 of the 81. Verdugo is not much of a HR threat. I do not see Muncy hitting 35, but I can see Belli making up the difference. Is Joc going to be the 2017 or 2018 HR threat? CT3? Kike’? And we know that neither Barnes or Gale are going to be any kind of HR threat. It is clear that the team is going to need to become more of a contact situational hitting team in order to make up for those lost HRs and RBIs.
The team also needs to make up for 27 starts and 151.1 IP lost without Alex Wood. I cannot see any pitcher other than Buehler making it through the season without a DL stint. How long the starters go out will determine how much of that depth will be tested. At least Stripling/Urias/Ferguson/Santana will be capable for filling in. But I would sure be more comfortable with Corey Kluber. I do not see that happening without the loss of key 2019 contributors leaving. Thus, it is clear to me that to plug one hole, another hole would open. The Dodgers are deepest in starting pitching, so I can see them standing pat unless the Tribe wants to come way down and just take Joc and prospects not named Verdugo/Ruiz/Lux. Not happening.
The Dodgers do not need to sign any of the FA pitchers (Keuchel, Gio, Miley, Holland), and none of the relievers who want to close will consider the Dodgers. Ottavino does not care, but he wants to stay in NY so that will probably happen. In addition, the Dodgers now have 2 relievers on multiyear multimillion dollar contracts, and that is more than enough for Friedman. And while I know it can never happen, I do like Singing the Blues’ idea of signing Greg Holland on a make due contract, that cannot be tied to closing games. Thus, the problem, as Holland wants to close. But talk about low risk high reward possibilities…
How does the above roster stack up to the Rockies or the other NL East and NL Central teams that have improved over the Winter?
Rockies lost DJ LeMahieu, Adam Ottavino, Gerardo Parra, Matt Holliday, and Carlos Gonzalez. I can see the Rockies re-signing either Parra or CarGo for one year as veteran bench support. LeMahieu cannot be totally replaced, especially defensively. But Garrett Hampson (24) is more than sufficient as a temporary 2B until uber-prospect Brendan Rogers is ready. Hampson in a very small sample size batted .275/.396/.400/.796 in 48 PA. Daniel Murphy was a tremendous FA pickup, and he will be playing 1B where he is less lethal defensively but will more than make up for the loss offensively of DJLM. Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado are as good of a left side of the infield as there is in the NL, with the exception of the Dodgers. Rockies fans will certainly dispute that, but I am a biased Dodgers fan. But I digress. Ryan McMahon will be the utility infielder, and he is capable, but certainly not a strength. And no different than 2018.
The Rockies could use an upgrade at catcher and are very much in the discussion with Grandal. But they won 91 games last year with Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters as a R/L combo.
The Rockies still have the best offensive CF in MLB in Charlie Blackmon, who is more than adequate defensively. David Dahl (25) will move permanently into RF, but is capable of playing all three OF positions. He batted a more than solid .273/.325/.534/.859 in 271 PA last year. Ian Desmond moves from 1B back to the OF where he is far more comfortable. I would not expect Desmond to have another miserable year as he did last year. Raimel Tapia (25) will be a 4thOF, and I would expect Parra (L) or CarGo (L) or another veteran OF bat to be #5. I also would not be shocked to see Mark Reynolds or Matt Holliday to sign as another veteran RH bat and 1B sub for Murphy.
The Rockies starting pitching came of age last year. Kyle Freeland/German Marquez/Tyler Anderson/Jon Gray will be #1 – #4. Chad Bettis of Anthony Senzatela will be #5. Chad Bettis is the oldest in that group, and he turns 30 next season. I could see the Rockies picking up a Miley or Gio or even Holland as the #5.
The Rockies lost Ottavino, but they had no idea he was going to be as good as he was last year. I would expect to see a bounce back year from Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee. I also see a larger role for 24-year-old RHRP Yency Almonte. They still have Scott Oberg who was a solid reliever last year. Between Almonte and Oberg, I can see Ottavino’s innings being picked up. I can also see them picking up another veteran reliever on a one-year deal.
Both the Rockies and Dodgers won 91 games in the 162 game season, and the Dodgers fortunately had Walker Buehler ready to go for game 163. The Rockies have covered their personnel losses, and their young pitching staff should only get better and more comfortable at Coors. They will be the Dodgers closest competition in the NL West, and they are a couple of additions in the right spots for becoming extremely formidable. They are not there just yet, but the Rockies are not going away.