Free agency misses leaves Dodgers fans understandably frustrated + links to Lindor & Clevinger and … MadBum

(Photo: Kirby Lee)

So the Dodgers have missed out on the big fish in free agency yet again, and frustrations have been boiling over within the fandom. Yet at the end of the day, the Dodgers are well positioned for the present and future. After all, they won 106 games last year and figure to return a similar roster. Thus, on some level it’s understandable that a minority of fans effectively tell people who are displeased with the lack of free agent spending to stop complaining.

Counterpoint: No.

The frustration makes a lot of sense for reasons I tweeted about but should’ve just written in an article like this. Whoops.

Of course, all of this could change at just about any point.

But it hasn’t yet, and so the backlash is anything but irrational to me.

Anyway, onto the rumors.

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Whether we like it or not, the interest of the Dodgers in Madison Bumgarner continues to be confirmed as real, this time from Alex Pavlovic.

There is mutual interest between Madison Bumgarner and the Dodgers, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area this week, and the Dodgers met with Bumgarner’s representatives at the MLB Winter Meetings. It’s unclear if the Dodgers will satisfy the Giants ace’s salary desires, but Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the top options left on the pitching market after a shockingly active week in San Diego, and LA would like to add to its rotation. The Dodgers struck out on Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon on back-to-back days, and quickly pivoted to Bumgarner, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported. While the Dodgers have seen Bumgarner’s numbers dip in recent years, they still view him as a durable starter, someone who is young enough to be a contributor for years to come and can give them an innings-eater alongside Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. And yes, they’re well aware of what a blow such a move would be to the fan base of their main rivals. Giants officials downplayed those concerns this week, repeatedly noting that they will build back up the right way and not be swayed by emotion. There was some skepticism about the Dodgers’ true intentions, but sources say the interest is real, and that could put the Giants in a tough spot. They met with Bumgarner’s representation on Tuesday, and Zaidi said the next day that he remained engaged in conversations with the franchise’s longtime ace. The price has gone higher than expected, and that’s ultimately one of the main reasons Bumgarner might not end up with the Dodgers. But he also said repeatedly late in the year that his main priority as a free agent was finding a spot where he could win, and not many teams can offer a better shot at that than the one in LA.

Amusingly, after all the concern about the Dodgers not spending, the only thing that might prevent the Dodgers and MadBum from becoming a thing is the team’s frugal nature in free agency.

Fan reasons aside, and there is justification for not liking this purely due to fan reasons, I simply don’t feel one can reasonably expect him to justify the contract he’s rumored to be getting when one can’t logically project him as anything better than like a Kenta Maeda with an inning a start more.

As mentioned, one of the alternatives is Ryu, who didn’t really sound too convinced the Dodgers wanted him back, according to Yonhap News.

South Korean free agent pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin said Wednesday there’s no truth to a U.S. news report that claimed he would prefer to stay on the West Coast, adding that geography won’t affect his decision in the market.

As for reports that the Dodgers are interested in bringing him back, Ryu said, “If the Dodgers wanted to re-sign me, they would have told my agent. I haven’t heard from him yet, and honestly, I don’t have much to tell you right now.”

Honestly, letting him walk sounds like a very Dodgers thing to do. They are basically assuming somebody else will pay for his career year, which isn’t necessarily unreasonable, though Ryu definitely seems like the better bet compared to MadBum.

In less of a real option and more of a flier territory, Rich Hill is in talks with the Dodgers after undergoing his primary revision operation on his elbow that will see him out until June.

The surgery will sideline Hill until June. He has circled Jan. 20 on his calendar as the day he will begin a throwing program. He said he has engaged with multiple teams, including the Dodgers and the Red Sox, in hopes of hooking up with a club for spring training.

As I’ve said before, Hill makes all the sense in the world for the Dodgers. Worst-case scenario he never recovers and the Dodgers waste a few million or whatever on a one-year deal and he just ends up serving a role as clubhouse dad. Best-case scenario he’s as effective as usual and either is a rotation, swingman, or relief weapon in the playoffs. The risk for a team like the Dodgers who likely do not need him at all to make the playoffs makes the signing is minimal.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Dodgers don’t seem in on Josh Donaldson that hard either.

To be fair, with Donaldson it’s understandable to question just how much of an upgrade he would be.

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In somewhat random trade news, the Astros are interested in Austin Barnes.

No reason for the Dodgers to do this. Yeah, Keibert Ruiz is in waiting but he’s more of a potential regular than a backup and Barnes seems like an ideal reserve. His bat comes and goes but his receiving his elite and he has familiarity with the staff.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the big trade rumor from Ken Rosenthal, which involves a potential deal with the Indians.

Meanwhile, the Indians appear more likely to hang onto Lindor this winter, in a climate in which the Dodgers seem unwilling to deal away rising star Gavin Lux, even for Lindor. The Dodgers believe Lux could be as good as Lindor, and offers four more years of affordable control. Nevertheless, the Dodgers have enough good young players lined up behind Lux to build a package for Lindor at some point. And a Lindor deal could allow them to move Corey Seager to first base or trade him to fill other holes. So this isn’t one of those move-on, nothing-to-see-here empty rumors. It’s clearly one to keep pinned to the bulletin board.

Not much there yet, but there’s some smoke rising.

This is probably the only kind of deal where I’d be okay with dealing away a bunch of top talent, as it nets them two elite players on the other side. The Dodgers would give up future value and likely stars, but get more proven players in return that they can attempt to retain long-term, which should give the farm enough time to churn out further talent.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times