If the Dodgers want to re-sign Corey Seager, they might have to strike quickly

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

I’ve been pretty resigned to the fact Corey Seager is going to sign elsewhere this offseason. The trade deadline acquisition of Trea Turner not only gave the Dodgers a safety blanket in case Seager does sign elsewhere, but Turner also seems to fit their preferred player profile (he’s basically the infield version of Mookie Betts, in this scenario).

With the designated hitter all but certain to come to the National League a part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, there is seemingly room for Seager and Turner on the roster. Seager could play shortstop, slide over to third base or be the designated hitter. Odds are, it could be a combination of the three (with Justin Turner getting plenty of time at DH).

It would also seem the odds of Seager returning to LA would increase the longer he’s a free agent. And with the CBA set to expire Dec. 1, most believe he (and many top free agents) will wait until there’s a new agreement to sign. That is, until Jeff Passan of ESPN dropped this bit of news this morning.

The excerpt above says a lot. And if that’s truly the case, the odds the Dodgers retain Seager diminish, in my eyes.

Yes, they signed Andrew Heaney this week, but he didn’t command the mega deal that Seager is sure to land. Something like that — at least knowing the way the Dodgers operate — would take some time to complete, and we’re just 19 days away from Dec. 1. That’s enough time, if the Dodgers are truly committed to bringing him back.

I proposed a 7-year, $182 million extension last winter, and that, in hindsight (and maybe at the time) it felt a bit light. So, let’s look at what those in the know are expecting for Seager and a contract this winter.

  • The Athletic (Jim Bowden) – 10 years, $320 million
  • ESPN (Kiley McDaniel) – 7 years, $210 million
  • FanGraphs (Ben Clemens) – 8 years, $240 million
  • MLB Trade Rumors (Tim Dierkes) – 10 years, $305 million

Average of the four: 8.75 years, $268.75 million, $30.7 million AAV

The 10-year commitments predicted by Bowden and Dierkes seem like a bit much, but everyone is in the $30-32 million average annual value range, which seems about right. If Seager signs before Dec. 1, it’ll likely be at a premium. The Dodgers gave Mookie Betts a 12-year deal heading into his age-27 season (and that might have been aided by the COVID-19 pandemic), so I’m not sure the Dodgers would commit to 10 years for Seager heading into his age-28 season. Betts figures to fare better, physically, despite having nagging injury concerns this season. Seager hasn’t always been the healthiest player, but he doesn’t have any nagging/recurring issues, so an argument could be made for 10 years. If they could pay just a little more annually, they might be willing to go eight or nine years.

Seager figures to move off shortstop (for real this time) sometime in his next deal — no matter which team he signs with. He could go to third base with a chance of first base and DH being in the cards down the line. The bottom line is, if Seager hits at the level he has shown in his career (.297/.367/.504, 132 wRC+) over the course of his next deal, it’s going to be well worth it. The fact he plays shortstop just puts a little extra premium on that offense. If he has to move to third base (95 wRC+) or first base (110 wRC+), he’d still be well above-average with the bat and among the best at both positions.

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Max Muncy is a free agent in two winters (because something traumatic would have to happen for the Dodgers not to exercise their 2023 $13 million club option on him). Gavin Lux may or may not be the next good bat the Dodgers develop. Chris Taylor may not get more lucrative deals elsewhere. Cody Bellinger‘s future is a bit of a question after a (mostly) disastrous 2021 season. Locking up Seager — even at a premium — before the CBA expires might be the most prudent hitting the Dodgers can do this offseason. They know him better than anyone because they’ve seen what he has done since debuting in 2015. If you factor in the fact that they’d receive just a draft pick at the end of the fourth round if he signs elsewhere (assuming he declines the qualifying offer, which he will), then it makes even more sense for the Dodgers to re-sign him. And for that to happen, Andrew Friedman and Co., will going to have to stray outside their comfort zone. We’ll see if they’re is brave enough to do so.

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.