It’s almost Thanksgiving, and we as Dodger fans have a lot to be thankful for, despite the horrific year 2020 has been.
I’m working on my offseason plan post. Hoping to finalize the first version of it sometime next week. Until then, here’s a brief rumor roundup involving your World Series Championship Los Angeles Dodgers.
Brad Hand, who was put on waivers following the World Series and went unclaimed for $10 million, is of interest to the Dodgers. The soon-to-be 31-year-old is coming off one of his best seasons (rate stats-wise) of his career. He had a 2.05 ERA, 1.37 FIP and a 29.1 K-BB% — all career-bests. He has seen his fastball velocity decline for three straight seasons, but he’s never been one to rely heavily on velo. He has one of the best relief pitcher sliders in the game, and would help replace Blake Treinen, should he move on. And Hand might very well take over closing duties for the Dodgers, should he be signed.
We know of the Dodgers’ interest in Nolan Arenado, but his former teammate might be a good fit in LA if Justin Turner signs elsewhere (Toronto?). I wrote two winters ago that LeMahieu would be a good addition. That was before he signed with the Yankees, added corner infield to his defensive repertoire and became a legitimate MVP candidate. Here’s what Rosenthal writes about the Dodgers’ potential interest in LeMahieu.
“The Dodgers almost certainly would have no spot for LeMahieu if they re-sign Turner, which still appears to be their first choice. Their projected luxury-tax payroll already is within $20 million of the first threshold, according to FanGraphs’ RosterResource. The returns of Turner and another free agent, reliever Blake Treinen, would put them over the threshold unless they lopped off other salaries.
One might argue that the Dodgers should not be worried about exceeding the threshold, particularly when they might regain flexibility after ’21 with left-hander Clayton Kershaw, closer Kenley Jansen, shortstop Corey Seager and utility man Chris Taylor eligible for free agency. Then again, they are likely to re-sign Kershaw, spend big money on Seager (or his replacement) and absorb Cody Bellinger’s sharp salary increases in arbitration. Which is why Plan A for now seems to be Turner at third and Gavin Lux at second, with the potential for the DH in the NL only increasing Turner’s appeal.
The loss of Turner, on the other hand, would change the equation for the Dodgers, exacerbating their need for right-handed power. LeMahieu then would become a viable, though more costly, option at third. Even Marcell Ozuna might make sense as a right-handed replacement, if the DH was in play.”
Occam’s Razor and all, but signing LeMahieu to essentially replace Turner would be quite interesting. The Dodgers would lose their 2nd- and 5th-round 2021 draft picks if they signed him, as he was given the — and rejected — qualifying offer from the Yankees.
This is the Francisco Lindor rumor that won’t die. Like the LeMahieu and Arenado rumors, this one would be contingent on the Dodgers losing Turner in free agency or the National League permanently adopting the designated hitter.
“It’s my understanding that the Dodgers have talked to the Indians about Lindor in the past. I’m not certain how close they got to consummating a trade, but my impression is that discussions got past the ‘tire-kicking’ stage. Some things have changed in the meantime. Lindor is a free agent after next season, and there’s a big difference between acquiring a one-year rental and a player two years away from free agency. The latter is more valuable, and the Dodgers already have a shortstop due to become a free agent after next season. Corey Seager’s resurgent 2020 figures to make the Dodgers motivated to keep him happy and under contract long-term. That might necessarily mean keeping Seager at shortstop in 2021. I don’t regard the idea of sliding Seager over to the hot corner as a given.
So why do I like the Dodgers’ chances of acquiring Lindor better than Arenado?
First, the Indians are a motivated seller. They don’t want to pay Lindor the $22 million salary he projects to make next season, plain and simple. There should be plenty of motivated buyers. Lindor, 27, plays a premier position and he’s been no worse than a 4-WAR player since he broke into the majors. He isn’t Mookie Betts, but he’s the kind of star one can imagine Andrew Friedman ‘getting creative’ to acquire.”
Lindor would probably mean Corey Seager moves to third base. If Turner is retained, it’d be to DH. If not, maybe he could play mostly first base, with Max Muncy playing mostly second base. It wouldn’t be great news for Lux, who didn’t have the best of 2020s.
Expect the rumors to be persistent this winter, with things really picking up after the tender deadline (Dec. 2).