The Winter Meetings were largely unsuccessful for the Dodgers. Yeah, they agreed to terms with Blake Treinen, but they missed out on Gerrit Cole (and Stephen Strasburg) and didn’t even make an offer to Anthony Rendon.
Now, it appears they’re going to explore the trade market to improve the team. Instead of just spending their vast amount money, now they’ll have to do that and give up prospects and/or young players. Yay.
Let’s get started.
Cody Bellinger – $11.6 million
Joc Pederson – $8.5 million
Corey Seager – $7.1 million
Enrique Hernandez – $5.5 million
Chris Taylor – $5 million
Max Muncy – $4.6 million
Pedro Baez – $3.3 million
Ross Stripling – $2.3 million
Julio Urias – $1.7 million
Austin Barnes – $1.1 million – signed
Scott Alexander – $875,000 – signed
Barnes and Alexander avoided arbitration by agreeing to deals, and there’s no reason to think the Dodgers won’t come to terms with the rest of their arbitration-eligible players.
Yimi Garcia – $1.1 million
All three of these fellers are out of options and I couldn’t — in good conscience — have a guy like Caleb Ferguson begin the season in the minors in favor of a Chargois or Sadler. All three could go unclaimed on waivers and have a decent chance of ending up with Oklahoma City. If they get claimed, oh well.
The Treinen deal already happened, and they are very interested in bringing in Betances on a similar deal. If both of them return to form, not only will the Dodgers’ bullpen be really good, there would be less pressure on Kenley Jansen at the end of games.
But the big free agent signing is Donaldson. We’ve written a lot about him, and he would bring a powerful right-handed bat to the Dodger lineup. Plus, his defense is light years better than Turner’s which allows him to slide over to first base.
Hill wants to pitch. He wants to pitch for the Dodgers. The Dodgers like to have good pitchers, so a reunion makes a ton of sense. He won’t be ready until around the All-Star break after offseason surgery, which is just fine for all parties involved.
Why it works for Cleveland: Cleveland isn’t going to be able to re-sign Lindor in two winters when he becomes a free agent. They’re looking to save money this year, and offloading his projected $16.5 million salary will go a long way in doing just that. To get Lux and May in the deal, they’d also have to part with one of their premium young pitchers, and they go with Clevinger over Shane Bieber. Clevinger is arbitration-eligible for the first time and is projected to make $4.5 million. Bringing in Taylor would also help keep the 2020 competitive (they need quality outfielders) while building for the future with Lux and May. They’d also get a mid-level prospect in Uceta who could be MLB ready by 2021 (or sooner). Rough math-wise, Cleveland would save $16.2 million on this year’s payroll, which is a driving factor behind its wanting to trade its franchise player because that’s baseball in 2020.
Why it works for Los Angeles: The Dodgers’ roster is already deep, so the only way to make more than marginal upgrades is to acquire top-level talent. Lindor and Clevinger fit that description. They can afford to trade Lux because Lindor is Lux’s 99th percentile outcome. He’s one of the 15 best players in the game and the Dodgers have the financial resources to retain him in two winters. Clevinger gives the Dodgers a much-needed rotation upgrade after striking out on Cole (and Strasburg). Noah Syndergaard probably isn’t getting traded and there isn’t another available pitcher on the trade market who has Clevinger’s upside, youth and team control. With Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s return not looking likely and Rich Hill not being ready until midseason (at the earliest, should he be re-signed), pairing Walker Buehler with the 28-year-old righty would give them a formidable 1-2 punch. And Clevinger’s best could still be to come.
It has been a while since Andrew Friedman broke out a 3-team deal (the Scott Alexander deal, if I’m not mistaken), so why not now? Plus, what kind of offseason would it be without a Dodgers-Reds trade?
Why it works for Cincinnati: The Reds are trying to contend, They acquired Trevor Bauer at least season’s trade deadline, already signed Mike Moustakas to play second base and have been rumored to be in on Marcell Ozuna. Still, they have a glaring need at shortstop. Jose Peraza didn’t work out, Jose Iglesias was not retained, which leaves Freddy Galvis. He’d be a fine backup infielder, but he’s not a starter on a playoff-caliber team. Going from him to Seager would give them quite the boost — and he’s under team control for two more seasons. They’d also land what is essentially a replacement for Winker in the outfield. Fowler is an interesting power-speed guy who could play some center field in a pinch. Michael Lorenzen and/or Amir Garrett could slide into the closer role.
Why it works for Oakland: The A’s are always looking to do something, and they’ve been suspiciously quiet so far this winter. They would get a young, cost-controlled (four years) outfielder who fits what they look for in an outfielder. They’d also get a back-end bullpen replacement for Treinen. He’s also cost-controlled (two years), so they can adjust their plans accordingly.
Why it works for Los Angeles: The Dodgers — after signing Donaldson and trading for Lindor — wouldn’t have a place for Seager (no, I don’t buy the first base rumors). It’s unlikely he’s in their long-term plans, and if it means restocking the farm system a bit after the Cleveland trade, then they’d be willing to do it. Oh, and they’d stay under the precious luxury tax because that’s what really matters. They’d get a fine Top 100 prospect in India, who could end up moving around the diamond a bit (he has the athleticism for it). They’d also get a cheaper (and not as good, presently) version of Taylor in Pinder, who isn’t arbitration-eligible until next winter. He’s a multi-position guy who thrived, defensively, in the outfield last season. He also has a little pop in his bat. Kaprielian is a former 1st-rounder whom the Dodgers liked a lot in the 2015 draft. He has been plagued by injuries, so they’d be betting on their player develop and medical staffs to be able to get the most out of him. Finally, they’d replenish the shortstop depth a bit by snagging Allen, who is one of the best defensive shortstops in the minors. He’s not overly impressive with the bat, but the Dodgers have developed their fair share of quality hitters of late.
Rich Hill (Injured List)
Note: Until we know the status of Alvarez and Toles, I’m just going to assume they’ll be on the restricted list. But I’ll leave two 40-man spots, just in case.
As best as I can tell, this plan would keep the Dodgers under the $208 million luxury tax — with a little room to add in-season, if necessary. Now that the infuriating stuff is out of the way, would you look at that potential lineup?
So here’s hoping the Dodgers do something significant. It sucks for them to have been “100% focused” on Cole only to still not sign him. Here’s hoping they’re more than 100% focused on Lindor, because he seems like the perfect fit for LA and the Dodgers. And while it’d sting to trade Lux and May to get Lindor and Clevinger, they’re elite prospects who could become good-to-great major leaguers. Lindor and Clevinger are presently elite-level MLB players, and the Dodgers’ championship contention window isn’t going to stay open forever. The three pitchers via free agency all have high-end upside, but all have question marks. Donaldson is coming off his best season in a while and should be a massive defensive upgrade at third base.
So, what say you? Should I stop getting my hopes up (I hear the emphatic “YES” from literally all of you)? I don’t think I can, and that’s my problem.