Under-the-radar hitters who could interest the Dodgers this winter

Marcus Semien. (via)

Here is the conclusion of the 4-part series on potential under-the-radar free agent and trade targets for the Dodgers this winter.

There will be no Mookie Betts or Francisco Lindor in this post. And to be honest, I struggled to come up with the four below, let alone five candidates (like with the other posts).

RF Mitch Haniger

Haniger, 28, is coming off a disappointing season, but not just because of his on-field performance. He had a breakout 2018 campaign that saw him hit .285/.366/.493 with a 137 wRC+ and a 4.5 WAR. He came into ’19 with high expectations, but a very horrible injury (that I cannot bring myself to type) cost him about 100 games. In his career, Haniger has shown well in right field and had a +4 defensive runs saved out there last season. The right-handed hitter should bounce back from an injury-shortened ’19 season and would be an interesting trade target. He wouldn’t come cheap, but we all know Jerry DiPoto is no stranger to trades and the Mariners aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. A defensive outfield of A.J. Pollock/Alex Verdugo in left field, Cody Bellinger in center and Haniger in right would be damn good.

CF Starling Marte, Pirates

Marte, 31, is coming off another solid season with Pittsburgh. He hit .295/.342/.503 with a 119 wRC+. He had his $10 million 2020 option picked up by the Pirates and has an $11.5 million option for 2021. Marte has a dimension of speed not really seen with the Dodgers. He has 239 stolen bases in his career — an average of nearly 30 per season — that the Dodgers don’t currently possess. His defense in center field has been generally average in his career, but he posted an ugly -9 DRS in 2019. Single-season defensive metrics aren’t the best indicator of one’s talent, but he performed much better in left field than center in his career. It almost has an Pollock-feel to it. Marte shouldn’t cost too much to acquire, but Pittsburgh won’t just give him away, either.

SS Marcus Semien, Athletics

This one is a toughy. Semien is coming off an incredible season and he might not belong on this list, but for argument’s sake, I’ve chosen to include him. The 29-year-old was a Top 3 AL MVP candidate after posting a strong .285/.369/.522, 137 wRC+, 7.6 WAR season with the A’s. Why would Oakland want to trade him? Well, he’s projected to make $13.5 million in his second year of arbitration and that number will rise substantially next winter. The A’s don’t have to trade him now, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they did. And if they did, he’d slide into shortstop with a Corey Seager trade likely to precede or follow. Of the four players on this list, he’d cost the most to acquire by a wide margin.

2B/UTIL Whit Merrifield, Royals

Merrifield, 30, is one of the more underrated players in the game, and I looked at his candidacy back at the trade deadline. While the Dodgers aren’t exactly hurting for utility players who can hit, Merrifield is the exact kind of player they covet. He took a little step back in 2019 (2.9 WAR) from, his 2018 production (5.2 WAR), but he was still a plenty valuable player. If the Dodgers wanted to find a spot for him, they could. The fact he hits right-handed is a proverbial feather in his cap. He’s locked up through 2022 and has a very affordable 2023 option.

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I’m not sure how realistic acquiring any of these players are, but they wouldn’t be terrible consolation prizes if they miss out on Anthony Rendon on the free agent market and/or Betts & Lindor on the trade market.

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.