It seems much more likely that he signs in LA than it did at this time yesterday. But the Dodgers still have competition for Freeman’s services. The remaining contenders appear to be the Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees — but it seems like the Bronx Bombers might be in fourth place here and might pivot back to Anthony Rizzo. Folks have opined who the favorites may or may not be, and a case could be made for all five teams involved.
The Dodgers don’t exactly need Freeman. Yes, they lost Corey Seager, but they still have plenty of thump in the lineup. If the Dodgers get outbid by any of those teams (especially the Rays), then that’s on them and would be a bad look. So, being the fatalist I am, let’s see what they might do if Freeman doesn’t end up in LA.
Barf, I know. There is word the Dodgers have talked to Trea Turner about a contract extension, but there’s also some doubt in the industry that he’ll be in Los Angeles beyond 2022. I wouldn’t put it past Andrew Friedman to pivot to Correa, especially since contractual situation could be a bit murky. He might be able to be had on a 1-year deal because he switched agencies during the lockout and there are different complications when it comes to paying the agencies. If that were the case, he’d re-enter the free agent market heading into his age-28 season, and he’d still a premium free agent. Of course, he’d have to agree to play second or third base in this scenario, which might be a hard sell for him and Scott Boras.
SS Trevor Story
Story, 29, would be a similar fallback plan in case Turner leaves after the season. Buster Olney mentioned him as a possibility on his podcast a few days ago.
He’s coming off a down year (.251/.329/.471, 100 wRC+), but he’s pretty durable and has some good years on his ledger. He has some stark home/road splits in his career (.972 OPS at home, .752 on the road), but MBP thinks the ‘Coors Effect’ is a bit overblown. In this scenario, he’d have to spend most of his time at second base, third base or designated hitter. If he is signed, then it’s an acknowledgment that Turner won’t be back and Story would be the team’s shortstop in 2023 and beyond. With no viable internal options close to the majors and Chris Taylor fitting better as a super utility guy, this could be a somewhat realistic option. And his contract (AAV-wise, at least) would be lower than that of Correa.
On the surface, this makes little sense. However, the Reds fire sale could see the Dodgers acquire an arm — Luis Castillo or Tyler Mahle — as part of a package that would include LA taking on all of the $57 million guaranteed over the next two years ($25 million annually in 2022-23 with a $20 million club option or $7 million buyout for 2024). It might be worth it if it nets the Dodgers on of those young, coveted starting pitchers. Votto is a 10-5 guy, so he’d have to approve any trade. If he wants a shot at a World Series, this might be his best bet. He’s coming off a strong .266/.375/.563, 140 wRC+ season with the Reds in his age-37 season. If nothing else, he could be a nice Veteran Presents as a 1B/DH and could help mentor some of the younger Dodger hitters (I’m looking at you, Gavin Lux … assuming he wouldn’t be in the deal).
The easiest solution is to just give Freeman all the money. But it isn’t always that simple for the Dodgers, so an unexpected acquisition could be right up Friedman’s alley.