This is the 2022-23 version of the Dodgers Digest Offseason Plan, which was a little more complicated to put together this time due to a number of factors. The players we’ve seen come up through the system and grown attached to, especially in the last couple of years, are gone. It’s a bit of a changing of the guard if you factor in the veterans are a year older.
There are a few specific and glaring needs for the Dodgers based on free agents and lack of performance, so this has a chance to be a wild offseason. I wanted to just go nuts and “sign” 2-3 of the top free agents — Carlos Correa, Jacob deGrom, Aaron Judge, etc. — but talk of the Dodgers wanting a payroll reset kind of put the kibosh on that. So, I had to get a little creative. And while I wanted to try to swing a trade with the Brewers for a pitcher (Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff) and shortstop (Willy Adames), I went a different direction, if you can’t tell by the header image.
Enough context, let’s get to it.
OF Cody Bellinger (Arb 4, $18.1 million)
LHP Julio Urias (Arb 4, $13.7 million)
RHP Walker Buehler (Arb 3, $8.1 million)
LHP Caleb Ferguson (Arb 2, $1.1 million)
C Will Smith (Arb 1, $5.2 million)
RHP Tony Gonsolin (Arb 1, $3.5 million)
OF Trayce Thompson (Arb 1, $1.7 million)
1B/3B Edwin Rios (Arb 1, $1.4 million)
RHP Dustin May (Arb 1, $1.4 million)
RHP Evan Phillips (Arb 1, $1.4 million)
RHP Brusdar Graterol (Arb 1, $1.2 million)
RHP Yency Almonte (Arb 1, $1 million)
Everyone not named Bellinger was going to be tendered a contract — or so I thought. Both Edwin Rios and Luke Williams (recent waiver claim) were non-tendered. Rios is a bit surprising, but the Dodgers know more about his health situation than we do, and if they couldn’t trade a guy set to make less than $1.5 million in his first arbitration year, that should raise some red flags. As for Bellinger, I wrote more in-depth about his situation last month, saying I’d roll the dice on him, but the Dodgers felt differently.
Tyler Anderson and Trea Turner were given the qualifying offer, while Clayton Kershaw was not. Kershaw has already re-signed, Anderson signed with the Angels minutes before the deadline to accept or reject the offer and Turner, unsurprisingly, rejected it. And if this kind of plan (or whatever Andrew Friedman and Co. ends up doing) comes to fruition, this information from Josh is particularly interesting — especially if you like the draft.
Silver linings and such.
IF Hanser Alberto – $2 million or $250,000 buyout — Declined
LHP Danny Duffy – $7 million — Declined
RHP Jimmy Nelson – $1.1 million — Declined
3B Justin Turner – $16 million or $2 million buyout — Declined
Alberto is probably worth $1.75 million alone based on what he brings to the clubhouse/bench, but the Dodgers declined his option, and so will I. As much as I’m sure Duffy wants to pitch in LA, I’m not picking up his $7 million option, but he might come back on a minor-league deal. Nelson is in a similar boat, but at least he has pitched for the Dodgers. Perhaps he too can come back on a minor-league deal. The Dodgers already declined the option on Turner, which is what I would have done.
Rule 5 Draft Protections
You can read a more in-depth breakdown of the Rule 5 Draft protections here. For once, I actually got something right!
LHP Clayton Kershaw – 1 years, $20 million + incentives
CF Kevin Kiermaier – 1 year, $10 million + 2024 team option ($8 million or $1 million buyout)
RHP Chris Martin – 2 years, $14.5 million
RHP Kodai Senga – 4 years, $68.75 million
3B/DH Justin Turner – 1 year, $13 million
- The Athletic: 3 years, $72 million
- ESPN: 5 years, $72 million
- FanGraphs: 4 years, $56 million
- MLBTR: 5 years, $75 million
So, that’s how I got to 4/68.75 ($17.1875 million AAV) for Senga. In lieu of a trade for a starting pitcher to bolster the staff, the Dodgers dip into the international market for the first time since signing Kenta Maeda in 2016. Senga, whom Daniel profiled recently, definitely comes with is fair share of risk, but he also comes with higher upside than someone who could be had for the kind of deal it’ll take to land him. As a bit of a “bonus” for the signing team, there is no posting fee necessary to sign Senga. He’s an outright free agent, and since he’s older than 23 years old, his money doesn’t count against the international signing pool. The soon-to-be-30-year-old profiles as a strong mid-rotation starter with a chance to be a No. 2-type.
Kershaw coming back was not just a no-brainer, it was inevitable. If he hasn’t left LA for Texas yet, he probably isn’t going to do it until he retires.
Kiermaier is a premium defensive center fielder — not unlike Bellinger — but he comes with a cheaper price tag. And with a trade coming below, the Dodgers might need a left side of a center field platoon to go along with Trayce Thompson. Since his debut in 2013, he eads all center fielders in DRS (134) and is second to Lorenzo Cain in OAA (64, in more than 1,300 fewer innings). He can go get it in center, and it comes with one of the better CF arms out there (92.2 MPH average throw in ’22). While he’s not known for his bat, he has a little pop, though it comes with some swing-and-miss.
With Treinen likely to miss 2023, the Dodgers will need to spend some money on a reliever. They acquired Martin at the trade deadline and he was really good for them. In fact, they might have eyes on making him a Treinen-like reliever. Instead of spending money on someone a little unfamiliar, it’d make sense to bring back someone they know. Oh, and he has, quietly, been one of the best relievers in the game since 2019.
It’s hard to imagine Turner playing anywhere else, and in this plan the Dodgers end up saving just a million bucks if you factor in the $2 million buyout they had to pay when they declined his option. He should play a similar role in ’23 as he did in ’22, but they might cut his playing time a bit in hopes of having him healthy and fresh for October.
The White Sox, on the other hand, are decidedly .500 and need a shake-up. Couple that with some potential payroll restrictions and it seems like a ripe situation to strike. Anderson (owed $12.5 million in 2023 and $14 million — or $1 million buyout in ’24) is an electric player — when healthy. And that’s the key. After playing 93.6% of the games since his debut in 2016 through the 2019 season, he has played just 374 of a possible 546 games — 68.5%. But when he’s in there, he’s a difference-maker. He’s a bit different than the hitter the Dodgers typically go after. He’s a free-swinger, but he has pop and has hit .301 or better in each of the last four seasons. I know, I know, “lol batting average,” but it comes with above a wRC+ mark of 123 — 23% better than league-average and one point ahead of Marcus Semien and three points behind Corey Seager. The dude can hit, and with the Dodgers’ ability to maximize the potential of their hitters, Anderson could be in line for an offensive boost. On defense, he isn’t going to be confused for Cesar Izturis, but with the way the Dodgers have been able to make guys like Seager and Max Muncy competent defenders on the dirt, he could see a boost there, too. Diekman would give the Dodgers another viable left-handed reliever while providing some extra salary relief for the White Sox.
The White Sox are in need of left-handed bats in their heavy right-handed lineup (Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn), and Busch and Outman would give them just that. Busch would likely start at second base to open the season and could thrive in that hitter-friendly ballpark. Outman could be the team’s starting center fielder, which would push Luis Robert to a corner spot (where he might end up being healthier). Amaya could step in at shortstop (and be a defensive upgrade) until they either find a different placeholder or Colson Montgomery is ready. They also land a low-level lottery ticket in Becerra. Most importantly, however, for the White Sox, is that they save about $18 million overall on two players who might not be with them beyond 2023. They also get cheaper in the process for the next few years.
Happ is a year away from free agency and, with the non-tendering of Bellinger, the Dodgers suddenly have a need for outfielders. Happ is coming off another solid season with the Cubs in which he hit .271/.342/.440 with a 120 wRC+. He’s probably not going to stick in Chicago after 2023, so they might as well try to get something for him. His Statcast numbers leave a little to be desired, but he’s consistently above league-average in exit velocity and has run a HardHit% of better than 40 for the third consecutive season.
The switch-hitter is more productive against right-handed pitchers (121 wRC+), but he’s not unplayable against southpaws. However, I’d expect a few days off here and there with someone like Chris Taylor or Trayce Thompson getting the nod that day. And while he has dabbled at second and third base in his career, he’s a premium defender in left field by defensive runs saved (+13 in ’22) and slightly above-average by outs above average (+2). The Cubs aren’t likely to retain Happ after this season, seeing as their top three prospects are all outfielders — Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis and Kevin Alcantara.
Hughes is an interesting lefty reliever who would, effectively, replace Ferguson here and give the Dodgers another longer-term LHP solutionnto go along with Alex Vesia. He’s effective against both lefties and righties, but he’s a bit homer-prone — he gave up 10 (!) home runs in just 35 innings of work in 2022. If you’re looking for a positive, he gave up just 13 other hits and struck out 40 (against 14 walks). He’s better against lefties, as most LHPs are, as his wOBA against was .277 (.309 against righties) and he struck out 30.1% of the lefties he faced. All in all, he’s a solid reliever who isn’t a free agent until after the 2028 season.
The Cubs get a boost to their bullpen with Ferguson, who seems like a guy who has kind of fallen out of favor in Dave Roberts‘ bullpen rotation. He should make up for the loss of Hughes, but the real prize for the Cubs would be Pepiot, who would give them a solid rotation arm to step in with Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman and Justin Steele. With some of their starters a ways off, Pepiot could do well to help bridge the gap to when guys like Cade Horton and Jordan Wicks are ready.
Julien, 24 in April, is the versatile player Friedman dreams about. he can play first, second and third base, as well as some left field. In this scenario, however, he’s probably more of a replacement for the departed Busch (he also hits left-handed), as most of his time in the pros has come at second base. He has power potential, draws a ton of walks, can run a bit but also strikes out a fair amount. He would provide depth on the 40-man roster while the Dodgers are giving up a couple quality prospects who aren’t yet on the 40-man roster.
Knack would give the Twins a quality pitching prospect who dealt with some injury issues in 2022. However, the former 2nd-rounder has a lot of talent and the Twins are really good at developing pitching — not unlike the Dodgers. They also get Galiz, who could, eventually, be their catcher of the future. Ryan Jeffers current sits atop their depth chart, but Galiz, who is a 3-4 years away, could eventually take over the full-time catching duties in Minnesota. It’d be a chance for the Twins to add a high-quality catching prospect and get help in the somewhat immediate term with an arm, in exchange for a solid depth player on their end.
Restricted List (1)
There is talk of the Dodgers and their payroll again, which isn’t to be unexpected. However, with guys like Betts, Freeman and Kershaw, it doesn’t seem like the best time for a payroll reset. So, this is a bit of a compromise. They don’t splurge in free agency and they fill the shortstop hole — for at least a couple years — with an economical option who’s also really good. The outfield defense could also be the best it has ever (in recent memory, at least) been in LA, as all three are above-average-to-plus defenders. Building a bullpen is always a bit difficult, and aside from throwing some money at Martin, landing Hughes could help for many years to come. Other than that, the Dodgers will have to rely on the likes of Almonte and Phillips to chip in and take up closing duties. Honestly, not having a set closer (unless it were someone like Emmanuel Clase) might be for the best. And keeping the depth at levels to which we’ve become accustomed was a priority.
Urias is a free agent after the season, so the rotation is going to need to be addressed. Again. But for 2023, this team looks to be another championship contender. The offense gets an infusion of players in their prime with Anderson and Happ, and with young guys like Lux, Pages and Vargas ready to take up for the vets when the time comes, it could be a glimpse into the future.
The moves here also allow for a big trade deadline move (factoring in prospect/player availability, payroll, etc.), which could be necessary depending on performance and injury.