Well now that the Dodgers have signed AJ Pollock, what comesnext? Maybe something. Maybe nothing. Is JT Realmuto on the horizon. Apparently, the Pads are very much in on JTR,but they are insisting on extension talks before they consummate the deal. Obviously, either Francisco Mejia or AustinHedges will be going back in a package. The Pads have ML OF’s available as well a bucket load of high-levelprospects. If the Pads want to outbidthe Dodgers, they certainly could. How much do the Dodgers want JTR? I think like in every situation, AF is notgoing to get in a bidding war with any team for any player. He will have his untouchables and will not goover what he believes the value of that particular player should be for theDodgers.
At the start of the hot-stove league, to many, the Dodgers’ needs were considered to be a RH bat, a 2B, a top line starting pitcher, bullpen help, a catcher, and to help with the apparent OF logjam. It started with the signing of Clayton Kershaw to a new three-year extension for a cool $93MM. Most Dodger fans were accepting of the large contract even with his potential injury risk. Clayton Kershaw should be a Dodger for life, and whatever the cost is should be acceptable. Kershaw could have looked outside of the organization and found a team willing to guarantee in excess of $100MM, but he is just as happy being a Dodger as the Dodgers are with him.
The Kershaw contract extension was followed by thequalifying offers of $17.9MM presented to both Yasmani Grandal and Hyun-JinRyu. Depending as to who accepted, thewinter budget would be set. Ryu acceptedand Grandal did not. IMO, the $17.9 forRyu is a bit of a risk, but one that Ryu is more than capable of turning into apositive.
After the Ryu acceptance, the rumors were runningrampant. JT Realmuto has been in thediscussion since the beginning, but one that I was very intrigued with wasCorey Kluber. The Indians were lookingto drop some payroll, and Kluber seemed like a good player to move. But the Indians were looking to packageKluber with other costly players like Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes. I am one who believes the Dodgers could useanother top line starting pitcher. Butthe cost had to be reasonable. Both theMarlins and Indians asking price were way out of line. Maybe the price would come down, but AF wasnot going to overpay. With Kluber many fanswere looking at adding Yan Gomes to expand the potential trade. Unfortunately for some, Gomes was tradedindividually to the Nats.
Next, the rumors were centering on FA’s…Bryce Harper, DJLM, and AJ Pollock were the three bandied about the most. Harper was the favorite for many, but also had a very loud and robust group against him. The same was true for DJLM. Many of us liked his RH bat to ball skills, and GG defense, while others were very much concerned about his batting metrics outside of Coors. AJ Pollock was pricing himself out of the picture early on, so the Dodgers settled on a perceived need and WS hero…RHRP Joe Kelly. Like AF is prone to do, nobody saw that coming. Kelly signed for a very reasonable 3 year $25MM contract.
But then on the Friday before Christmas, came the extremelycontroversial Farmer trade. Matt Kemp,Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer are all on their way to Cincinnatiwhile the Dodgers gained some payroll flexibility and a couple of goodprospects in SS Jeter Downs (Dodgers #7), and RHP Josiah Gray (Dodgers#16). Both players are consideredgenuine prospects, although not yet viewed as potential stars. I am not going to rehash the Farmer trade,but it certainly generated a lot of loud and differing opinions.
In mid-January, the immediate catching concern was addressedwith the trade for old friend (at least for Mark), Russell Martin. While he is certainly a shell of what he oncewas, he still has enough in the tank to bridge the ascension of Smith orRuiz. He could also be a positive mentorfor Austin Barnes for 2019. The tradedid not add AAV to the CBT threshold. Hecost a couple of lottery picks in prospects, but in positions of strength forLAD. It is just losing prospects (anyprospect) is hard for some, especially me.
It took more than a month after the Farmer trade, butfinally something significant happened. AJ Pollock was signed to a 4-year $50 MM contract with a 5thyear of $10MM option or $5MM buyout. Thecontract is structured so that the AAV is $12MM. The pros and cons of Pollock have certainlybeen voiced all over the blogosphere. Iam absolutely on the pro side.
The Dodgers are now within $8MM of the CTB threshold andthere are many of us who believe that the Dodgers will not surpass that $206MMthreshold. IMO, there will be no BryceHarper, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, or Craig Kimbrel wearing Dodger Blue for2019. So, the ML FA signings are undoubtedlydone.
There could be trades, but in order to add on salary,salaries are going to need to be moved. Rich Hill, Joc Pederson, and Josh Fields are the contracts that seemmost vulnerable. All three haveexceedingly positive attributes, so the return needs to be positive for the MLteam and not the farm system.
While I do not see any other ML FA’s coming to LA, therewill be minor league FA with ST invites. There could be a couple of name SP who will not get ML contracts, and timeis running out. Clay Buchholz, DougFister, Jason Hammel, Jeremy Hellickson, Edwin Jackson, Nate Karns, ErasmoRamirez, Ervin Santana, James Shields, Chris Tillman, and Josh Tomlin are stillunsigned. How many the Dodgers will needdepends on who (if any) get moved in a trade package, and how fast does BrandonGomes want to push his prospects.
The same goes for RP. There are more than 35 RP with recent ML experience that have yet to besigned. Daniel Hudson did a serviceablejob for LAD last year. He is not adifference maker for the playoffs, but he was good depth during the season; 40games worth. Others might include,Xavier Cedeno, Jake Diekman, Dan Jennings, Tyler Clippard, Francisco Liriano. But the two most intriguing that couldprovide the most benefit for LAD are Greg Holland and Brad Boxberger. I would love to see 1 or both of those guysget a MiLB contract with an invite to ST.
Position players who might be of interest to AF on MiLB contractsare SS Jose Iglesias (one of my favorites) and utility Derek Dietrich. Both players are the type of player that AFlikes as emergency depth.
Gone from last year’s WS roster (7): Alex Wood, Ryan Madson, Yasmani Grandal, Brian Dozier, Manny Machado, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig. It could go to 8 depending as to where Julio Urias starts the 2019 season.
Added on to the potential 25 man (7): Corey Seager, AJPollock, Russell Martin, Joe Kelly, Tony Cingrani, Alex Verdugo, and RossStripling.
More than 25% of the WS roster has turned over from lastyear, and either 10 or 11 from the 2017 WS roster. I do think that is substantial turnover. Without any further trades, the 25 man shouldlook very close to the following:
SP – Kershaw, Buehler, Hill, Maeda, Ryu
RP – Jansen, Kelly, Floro, Alexander, Cingrani, Baez,Stripling, Urias
C – Barnes, Martin
INF – Seager, JT, Muncy, Freese
OF – Pollock, Joc, Verdugo
INF/OF – Bellinger, CT3, Kike’
The one question above right now is Julio Urias. Other potential relievers already on the 40man who could find the 25thspot are Fields, Garcia, Chargois,Stewart, and even Jaime Schultz could surprise.
There is still a little more than 2 weeks before pitchersand catchers are to report, so there is still time to make that trade and/orsign some pretty decent players to minor league contracts with a ST invite. Problems addressed – Relieve OF logjam, RHbat, C, bullpen. Not specificallyaddressed were top line SP and 2B. AFalways believed the 2B was solvable in-house. The SP was going to need to be addressed via trade and the Dodgers onlylegit potential trade was for Corey Kluber. I have always believed he would be a huge addition, but not at anyprice, and certainly not at a Chris Sale price. So, the Dodgers are going to need for Clayton Kershaw to step up andreturn to be the uber-Ace he once was. What is not to like about that?
NL West Division champions? Yes. NL Pennant? Maybe. WS Champs? You have to get there to win it, and then get hot. Is the team as strong as NYY or Boston or Houston? Not in my opinion, but the team plays Boston and NYY during the season, so we can see where they stack up against those juggernauts. Then there is always the trade deadline pickup potential which has not been kind to the Dodgers lately.
Not to be outdone, there have been scores of coaching and front office changes, but I am concentrating only on the players at this time.
There are still moves to make, but at what level and when remain to be seen.