Resetting the 40-man roster for a pivotal and uncertain offseason for Dodgers & MLB

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

Despite equaling the franchise record in wins (for the second time in three years), the Dodgers end the season without a World Series title. It’s difficult to repeat, especially when you run into a team as hot as the Braves and as many injuries the Dodgers suffered throughout the season.

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The purpose of this post is to break down what the 40-man roster looks like heading into what is sure to be a busy and perhaps franchise-shaping offseason.

Free Agents (10)

All teams have an exclusive, 5-day negotiating window after the World Series. After that time, they’ll be free to sign anywhere.

This doesn’t include minor free agents such as Neftali Feliz, Cole Hamels, Mike Kickham, Kevin Quackenbush, Ryan Meisinger, Brandon Morrow or Nick Tropeano.

The Dodgers could, easily, choose to bring all of these guys back. However, we know that isn’t going to happen. But if there’s any justice in the world, they’ll bring back Kershaw and Taylor. Jansen should be a Dodger for life, but they already paid him once and he’ll be an attractive option on the market, considering his resurgent 2021. Nelson would be an interesting guy to bring back, even with the injury concerns. Duffy never threw a pitch for the Dodgers, but he’s the type of medium-risk, medium/high-reward guy the Dodgers like. Tio Albert coming back could work, especially if the designated hitter comes to the NL with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Souza and his “instant offense” can probably go.

The biggest question is going to be with Scherzer. Some of that will depend what the Dodgers do with the piece of shit who’s on administrative leave. He’ll likely be looking for a 3-year deal at more than $30 million annually, which the Dodgers can easily afford — but will they pay him? Same goes for Seager. Trea Turner was really good for the Dodgers in the regular season, but almost completely disappeared in the postseason. With the DH on its way, bringing Seager back may not be as unrealistic as it seems, but the Dodgers are going to have to replace his production somehow if he leaves, and I’m not sure Gavin Lux is the guy to do it.

Option (2)

Bauer has the ability to opt out of his contract following the season. He almost certainly will not. It remains to be seen what the Dodgers do with him this winter (cut him, please). The Dodgers have to make an $8 million decision on Kelly. The bicep injury he suffered in Game 5 of the NLDS lessens the likelihood of him coming back, but since they might be losing Knebel and Jansen, the Dodgers might need to take a chance and bring him back.

Under contract (9)

Lots of good, quality guys locked up for next season. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers explored an extension with Muncy — who has a very affordable option for 2023. Barnes and Kahnle and Price are free agents after 2022, while Pollock, Price and Treinen have options for the 2023 season. And Betts is here forever.

Arbitration-eligible (5)

MLB Trade Rumors is responsible for the projected arb numbers. All but Alexander are no-brainer to be tendered deals. I could see the Dodgers finally giving up on Alexander, especially with the emergence of Alex Vesia, Garrett Cleavinger‘s existence and Victor Gonzalez as a comeback candidate and they might not necessarily need to spend more than a million bucks on him. With Bellinger’s final year of arbitration next winter, I could see some kind of 2-year pact, but I wouldn’t bet a lot on it. Turner seems to be the future at shortstop — especially if they don’t bring back Seager — so a long-term deal might behoove both sides. They could also explore a long-term deal with Urias, despite him being a Scott Boras client.

Pre-arb/minors (24)

These lads don’t have enough service time to qualify for arbitration, and some of them have yet to debut in the majors. Unless there’s a roster crunch, I don’t see any really easy cuts here.

Not everyone is going to make it through the winter on this 40-man roster, but there’s still a lot of quality pre-arbitration players among this group.

Restricted List (1)

As we said last year and Chad wrote earlier this year, be well, Tolesy.

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Here’s a breakdown of where the 40-man roster stands.

  • 24 Team control
  • 9 Under contract
  • 5 Arbitration-eligible
  • 2 Option

That’s 40 players already. Toles won’t be counted among the rostered players and May will go on the 60-day injured list as soon as he’s allowed (first day of Spring Training, I think). So, the Dodgers already have almost a full 40-man before the offseason truly begins. There are going to be quite the number of roster moves between now and Valentine’s Day (or later).

The following notable players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Not listed below, but this also includes players previously Rule 5 eligible who weren’t selected and who aren’t on the 40-man roster (guys like Marshall Kasowski, Jeren Kendall, Justin Yurchak and so on). If the Dodgers want to protect them from being selected, they’ll have to be added to the 40-man roster, creating an even bigger roster crunch than already exists.

Position Players

Pitchers

I’ll look at the entire list and talk about who they should protect in a future post.

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This is a bit of a “changing of the guard” offseason, as has been written by many so far. What the Dodgers do with their free agents, other free agents and trades could shape how heavily favored (or not) this team will be to win the World Series over the next handful of years. Andrew Friedman, Josh Byrnes, Brandon Gomes and friends have their work cut out for them this winter — provided the CBA is agreed to and there isn’t a lockout/work stoppage (which, honestly, doesn’t look likely!).

Whenever the offseason truly gets going, we’ll be here to cover it.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. 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.