Let’s Reset The 40-Man Roster For the 2015-16 Winter

When the season ended on Thursday, it felt like we had to get to some immediate needs. Yasmani Grandal‘s shoulder news came out immediately, and then of course we had to have the obligatory Don Mattingly discussion, and then Stan Conte quit… things have been happening.

So even though this reset of the 40-man roster, updating last year’s version, has been sitting ready to go for nearly a week, we’re just getting to it now… and of course the wonderful Eric Stephen at TrueBlueLA already published his nearly-identical version (with slight differences in style). So, ah, ignore that, and let’s go with this anyway.

Anyway, I love roster minutiae more than anyone rationally should. There’s at least some part of me that enjoys offseason roster construction more than regular season games, and as we look towards 2016, there’s a winter of doing exactly that. But before you can really get into what moves the Dodgers should make this winter, we have to reset exactly where they are, roster-wise, right now. So let’s do that.

When we did this last year, it included names like Matt Kemp, Kevin Correia, Roger Bernadina, and Onelki Garcia. Things are… different.

Here’s how things are aligned right now:

Free agents (3)

Players are able to sign with new teams five days after the conclusion of the World Series.

Anderson was a very pleasant surprise despite that NLDS Game 3 disaster, and I imagine there’s interest from both sides for a return. He’s potentially a candidate for a qualifying offer, which is $15.8 million next year. Kendrick seems a lock to receive a qualifying offer, which he will decline, though it’s not out of the question he could then return on a multi-year deal.

It’s difficult to see Rollins returning under any circumstances.

Opt-out (1)

There’s a few ways this can play out, but the only thing that’s not realistic is for Greinke to forgo his opt-out and simply play out the remaining three years in Los Angeles. He’ll either take his opt-out (he has until three days after the World Series to do so, and it’s been reported in multiple places that he will) and hit the market, or he’ll work out an extension with the Dodgers to stay. This is easily the biggest story of the winter.

Team options (3)

It’s weird to see Arroyo on this list, given that he was acquired strictly to balance salaries and never appeared for the Dodgers. Utley’s exact option amount is uncertain because it’s based on how much time he spent on the disabled list in 2015, and it’ll be between $5m-$11m. It’s probably not likely that he returns, given how little he ended up actually providing, though if Kendrick departs, it’s not out of the question Utley could come back as a bench piece on a smaller contract after the option is declined.

Peralta’s year was, of course, awful, but given how much better he pitched once he got healthy and the fact that $2.5m is essentially nothing, I would bet on his option being picked up.

Player options (1)

Last year, this was Brian Wilson & Dan Haren. This year would have been Brandon League, except they ate that by cutting him during the season. It’s not unreasonable that Howell could reject this and find a multi-year deal somewhere.

Under contract (8)

This is an interesting group, because neither Ryu (shoulder) nor McCarthy (elbow) can be counted upon for Opening Day, and Guerrero seems like a certainty to be dumped after a disastrous 2015.  This group alone accounts for $120.25m; add Erisbel Arruebarrena ($4m) and Jose Tabata ($4.5m), who are under contract but are not on the 40-man roster, and it’s $128.75m.

Arbitration-eligible (11)

December 2 is the deadline for teams to offer arbitration or otherwise non-tender eligible players, making them free agents.

Dustin went over these in early October, and I mostly agree with him. Grandal, Turner, Van Slyke, Hatcher, and Jansen should be slam-dunks to receive an offer (or get contracts worked out in advance). Ellis should be back, given his second-half turnaround, Grandal’s surgery, and Kershaw’s affinity for him, but it’s not certain. Spitball roughly $30m for this group.

On 40-man roster, under team control (17)

These are the players with under three years of service time who were already on the 40-man roster. To remove them now would require DFA’ing them.

All of these guys have appeared in the bigs for the Dodgers other than Brown, who was claimed on waivers from Colorado last week. As far as I can tell, they all have options remaining; some will play huge roles for the Dodgers in 2016, others will be on the OKC->LA depth shuttle, and yet others will be in different organizations entirely.

So! Let’s assume that the five free agents (including Greinke) at least make it to the market, Utley & Arroyo are cut loose but Peralta is not, and that Howell returns. Here’s how that math works out, in terms of 40-man roster spots:

17 team control +
11 arbitration-eligible +
8 under contract +
2 exercised options (Howell/Peralta) =

38 players on the 40-man.

Some of those arbitration guys will get let go, of course, like Heisey, but until that happens, they’re part of the 40-man roster. But wait! There’s more. In November, the Dodgers will need to protect certain minor leaguers from the Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40-man roster, and that’s always a fun crapshoot, because it’s never clear who does and doesn’t need to be protected. Here’s how MLBTR defines it:

Remember, players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed.

I imagine that Dustin will get into this in more detail in the weeks to come, but for now, it’s worth keeping in mind when you’re setting the 40-man for the winter. Last year, this got Zach Lee, Chris Reed, and Scott Schebler added. This year, I believe Jharel Cotton and Ross Stripling are candidates, though I’ll defer to the prospect experts on that.

* * *

So, what’s shown here is a team that has two starting pitchers, plenty of infielders but no second baseman, and an ever-present question in the bullpen. Who thinks it’ll be a quiet winter? Nope.

About Mike Petriello

Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.