The Dodgers utilized the 40-man roster better than any team in 2016. At one time, they had 48 players on it (yes, it’s possible). Now that the season is over, let’s do a roster reset.
Here’s how things stand at present:
Free Agents (9)
The Dodgers have an exclusive five-day negotiating window to sign these players, but five days after the World Series ends, they’re free to sign with whichever team they so choose.
- SP Brett Anderson
- RP Joe Blanton
- RP Jesse Chavez
- SP Rich Hill
- RP J.P. Howell
- RP Kenley Jansen
- OF Josh Reddick
- 3B Justin Turner
- 2B Chase Utley
Some big names on this list, headed by Jansen. Of all the free agents the team has, he’s the one who must be re-signed. Turner is close behind Jansen on the “must re-sign” list. Whatever happens, both will be extended qualifying offers, provided the Collective Bargaining Agreement isn’t reworked before free agency begins. Hill seems to be the quintessential Andrew Friedman pitcher and they will take a long look at re-signing him.
Other than that, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if all the other guys are allowed to walk. Anderson will latch on somewhere on an incentive-laden deal. Blanton had a strong season (NLCS notwithstanding), but I don’t think the Dodgers open up the checkbook to bring him back. Chavez will get — at worst — a minor-league contract from a team, and the same goes for Howell. Reddick will get a decent payday because his time with the Dodgers isn’t indicative of the player he actually is. Utley, while a nice presence in the clubhouse, wore down immensely at the end of the season (which isn’t surprising).
Note: Hill and Reddick cannot be given qualifying offers because they were traded midseason in the last year of their deals.
Team Option (1)
- C Carlos Ruiz ($4.5 Million, $500,000 Buyout)
Picking up Ruiz’s option seems like a no-brainer since A.J. Ellis is no longer in the organization and the powers that be don’t appear to have a ton of faith in Austin Barnes. Ruiz can still produce in a part-time role at age 38, as evidenced by his 1.5 wins above replacement and 99 wRC+ in 2016.
Around the middle of the season, it looked like Kazmir might actually opt-out, but after a late-season injury and general ineffectiveness, I’d be utterly floored if he were to opt-out. He’d be leaving $32 million on the table, and while the free agent starting pitcher market is incredibly weak, I don’t see him making that much on the open market after his down 2016.
- OF Yasiel Puig ($6.5 Million Or Arb 2)
Puig is, technically, under contract for $6.5 million in 2017 ($7.5 million in 2018), but he can opt into arbitration if he so chooses. I wrote about it back in July, and while he might earn more if he chooses arbitration, the amount he makes is dependent on production and Puig just hasn’t produced a lot in the last two seasons. Whatever he ends up choosing, I think he’ll be traded.
Under Contract (7)
- OF Andre Ethier ($17.5 Million)
- 1B Adrian Gonzalez ($21.5 Million)
- UTIL Howie Kendrick ($5 Million; $10 Million Deferred To 2017-18)
- SP Clayton Kershaw ($33 Million)
- SP Kenta Maeda ($9.6 Million)
- SP Brandon McCarthy ($10 Million)
- SP Hyun-Jin Ryu ($7 Million)
Ethier has an option for 2018 that won’t be picked up, and he also has 10-5 rights, so I don’t suspect he’ll be traded. Gonzalez’s production fell this season and he’s signed for two more seasons at the $21.5 million rate. Kendrick has cemented himself as a utility player, and the Dodgers could do a lot worse for $5 million. You know about Kershaw and the opt-out after the 2018 season (stop worrying about it). Maeda’s salary depends how much he pitches, but he’s locked up for seven more seasons. McCarthy is under contract at an inexpensive rate the next two seasons (could be traded), and Ryu is also locked up for two more seasons — but it’s hard to expect anything from him.
Arbitration Eligible (8)
The deadline for players to accept arbitration and for teams to offer arbitration is early December.
- C Yasmani Grandal (Arb 2)
- OF Scott Van Slyke (Arb 2)
- RP Luis Avilan (Arb 2)
- RP Louis Coleman (Arb 1)
- RP Josh Fields (Arb 1)
- RP Chris Hatcher (Arb 2)
- RP Chin-Hui Tsao (Arb 2)
- SP/RP Alex Wood (Arb 1)
Grandal figures to be the highest-paid player of anyone listed in this category. There are also some non-tender candidates in Coleman, Hatcher, Tsao, and Van Slyke. Of that four, Van Slyke has the best chance of being tendered a contract. Avilan, Fields, and Wood are easy tenders.
These are the players with fewer than three years of service time who were already on the 40-man roster. To remove them now would require DFAing them.
- C Austin Barnes
- 2B/SS Charlie Culberson
- UTIL Enrique Hernandez
- 2B/OF Micah Johnson
- OF Joc Pederson
- SS Corey Seager
- 3B/OF Rob Segedin
- IF Chris Taylor
- OF Trayce Thompson
- OF Andrew Toles
- SP Jose De Leon
- RP Pedro Baez
- RP Grant Dayton
- RP Carlos Frias
- RP Yimi Garcia
- RP Adam Liberatore
- RP Josh Ravin
- SP Brock Stewart
- SP/RP Ross Stripling
- SP Julio Urias
That’s a lot of cheap, young production. Barring any trades, expect most, if not all, of them to be on the 40-man roster come Spring Training. There are a couple guys who could get the ax if the roster spot is needed (Culberson, Johnson, Segedin), which might very well end up happening.
20 Team Control
8 Arbitration Eligible
7 Under Contract
1 Exercised Option
That’s 38 players on the 40-man roster.
As I said above, I think only half of the arbitration-eligible guys will be tendered deals, and there’s also the Rule 5 Draft to consider.
“Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.
All players on a Major League Baseball team’s 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are ‘protected’ and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.”
Last year, the Dodgers protected Jharel Cotton and Stripling (and didn’t protect Dayton, which, luckily, didn’t come back to hurt them). This year, they’ll have to protect high schoolers drafted in 2012 and collegiate players drafted in 2013 who aren’t already on the 40-man roster.
Expect Rhame and De Jong to be protected without question. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Farmer protected, considering the lack of catching depth in the high minors.
There’s a lot to be done here. The Dodgers pushed the limits of the 40-man roster, and I wouldn’t expect anything different. There are still holes and deficiencies to be addressed, however. Thus, I’m guessing this winter could be more active than last year and the 40-man will look a little different come February.