Resetting the Dodgers’ 40-man roster following the World Series

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

Now that the Dodgers’ season is over, it’s time to start looking toward the offseason. It may not be the foremost thing on everyone’s mind, but it’ll be here sooner than you think.

Let’s take a moment and reset the 40-man roster and see how it all shakes out.

Free Agents (6)

The Dodgers have an exclusive five-day negotiating window to sign these players for the five days after the World Series ended. After that, they’re free to sign with whichever team they so choose.

I spy three trade deadline acquisitions in Darvish, Granderson and Watson. All of them cannot be given the qualifying offer. Even if they were eligible, Darvish would be the only one to get it. Speaking of, he has stated his interest in returning to the Dodgers, but that seems highly unlikely unless he takes a well-below market value deal. As the best starting pitcher available this winter, that won’t happen. Granderson looked pretty much done in the postseason. Gutierrez might have been able to help this team, but he has health issues to be concerned with and his second stint with the organization is likely over. Utley is much like Granderson in the sense that he looks done. However, everyone on the team likes him and his ‘Clubhouse Presents‘ can’t be ignored. If he is brought back, it’d be on a deal like he had this season. Honestly, though, I’d rather the Dodgers moved on. Watson had a nice stint with the Dodgers and was the first lefty out of the bullpen in the postseason, but with guys like Luis Avilan, Tony CingraniAdam Liberatore and Edward Paredes still rostered, it doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Dodgers to spend significant money on him.

That leads us to Morrow, who is the most interesting name on this list. He had a breakout season as a high-leverage reliever, and his usage rate in the postseason was staggering. The numbers say he should be given lots of money to stay. I’m not totally against it, but we know this front office is hesitant to throw big money at non-Kenley Jansen relievers. If a deal could be worked out that would suit both the Dodgers and Morrow, I’d love to see a reunion. But once he hits the open market, teams might be lining up to give him lots of money.

Team Option (2)

Ethier hasn’t been able to stay healthy the last two seasons but has played in the postseason. Still, we knew this would be his swan song. He might try to latch on elsewhere at a significantly reduced salary. Forsythe’s option is a no-brainer, even if they don’t intend to keep him. Despite Chris Taylor being so good in center field, I’d be mildly surprised if he were not the Dodgers’ starting second baseman in 2018.

Under Contract (10)

Not a lot of wiggle room with these guys. Maybe the Dodgers find a way to off-load Gonzalez on someone. Kazmir and Ryu are in the last year of their deals, while McCarthy has one more. Hill, Jansen, Kershaw, Maeda and Turner aren’t going anywhere. Puig’s resurgent season and strong postseason likely keeps him around, too.

Arbitration Eligible (9)

I wrote about the nine arbitration-eligible players the Dodgers had almost a month ago. All of these guys will be offered arbitration, but there’s no guarantee all of them are on the 40-man roster come opening day or even the start of Spring Training. Baez ($1.5 million), Grandal ($7.7 million) and Pederson ($2 million) are the best trade chips not named Alex Wood ($6.4 million) here.

Pre-Arb/Minors (21)

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 them being designated for assignment, traded or outright released.

Bet there are some names here you forgot about, huh? Here’s how the 40-man roster breaks down right now:

  • 21 Team Control
  • 9 Arbitration Eligible
  • 8 Under Contract
  • 2 Team Option

That’s 42 players, counting Ethier and Forsythe. Ethier will certainly be gone, so let’s call it 41 players on the 40-man roster. This is after the 60-day disabled list players get activated. They are as follows: Dayton, Dickson, Garcia, Kazmir, Liberatore, Ravin and Toles. Not all of them will survive the winter, though.

The Dodgers must consider potential Rule 5 Draft additions when crafting the 40-man. Here are the rules for the Rule 5 Draft.

“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.”

The Dodgers added Chase De Jong, Farmer and Jacob Rhame last year ahead of the Rule 5 Draft. This year, the decision won’t be that difficult.

2014

RHP Joe Broussard
RHP Matt Jones
RHP Karch Kowalczyk
RHP Trevor Oaks

2013

RHP Dennis Santana

The only for sure adds here are Oaks and Santana. Oaks was having a strong season before suffering a couple nagging injuries, and Santana had a breakout 2017 season. Broussard is a solid relief-only prospect, while Kowalczyk has a big arm but not much else. Bellinger would have been on the 2013 list if he hadn’t been promoted this season. None of the other high schoolers drafted by the Dodgers in 2013 are still in the organization. That means the Dodgers will have to clear three 40-man roster spots with the additions of Oaks, Santana and the assumed exercising of Forsythe’s option. It seems like Dickson, Font or Locastro are the most in danger of losing a 40-man roster spot. And if they avoid the ax now, it still may come later in the winter.

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I’m not expecting there to be a ton of roster turnover. This team did win 104 regular season games after all. But there is always room for tinkering and improvement. Unless the Dodgers sign Shohei Ohtani, I predict their biggest acquisition will come via trade, not free agency.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.