So far, it has been a pretty quiet Winter Meetings for the Dodgers — at least, when it comes to retaining or bringing in new players. They’ve still only signed Shelby Miller and officially announced Clayton Kershaw‘s re-signing, but they’ve lost some free agents along the way.
Trea Turner on Monday signed an 11-year, $300 million deal with the Phillies. It was always the expectation that he wasn’t going to come back to Los Angeles, partly because he wanted to play closer to the East Coast. Couple that with the Phillies backing up the Brinks truck for him and, well, the Dodgers have lost their shortstop.
I’ve honestly never been more ambivalent about losing a 6-win player. Turner is really good at baseball, but I’m not exactly sure what it is that’s making me feel so “meh” about losing him. It’s entirely possible it’s his playoff performance, but it also seems like his skill set won’t age as well as some other shortstops, mainly because he relies on his elite speed. Oh well.
The more sentimental loss was Cody Bellinger. After the Dodgers non-tendered him, it was overwhelming unlikely that he’d be back. Yesterday, he signed a 1-year, $17.5 million deal with the Cubs. It was only $600,000 less than his projected number in his final arbitration season, so the Dodgers didn’t “lose” any value by not trading him, but that’s not terribly important. But if the Dodgers didn’t think he was worth the $18.1 million gamble, it’s hard to be too upset about losing him — baseball-wise.
It’s hard to watch a kid come up through the system, thrive, be at the literal top of the game only to see him plummet so drastically. The shoulder bash celebration after hitting the eventual game-winning home run in the 2020 NLCS (off Chris Martin) was the last time we saw Bellinger healthy. Even before that, he hadn’t matched his 2019 (or even 2017) numbers, so something definitely changed. Pitchers actually figured him out, he didn’t make adjustments, he got into bad habits — whatever the case, Bellinger has been a shell of his former self (at the plate). He’s still a premium defensive center fielder, so the Cubs will benefit from that. And if they can get him straightened out — or at least back to his 2018 (or even ’20) level of production, it’ll be a big win for them … and for him.
I hope he gets back to form with Chicago and cashes in on a massive deal next offseason. He doesn’t turn 28 years old until July, so there’s still plenty of time for him to turn things around. The odds are against that happening, but he has shown the ability to be a top-tier MLB player, and I hope he gets back there.
The Dodgers also lost Andrew Heaney to the Rangers on Wednesday. He signed a 2-year, $25 million deal with a chance for it to be a 3/37 deal — not that dissimilar to the deal Tyler Anderson got guaranteed from the Angels.
Heaney was the latest recclamation project of Andrew Friedman and, more prominently, Mark Prior. Despite logging just 72 2/3 innings, he pitched to a strong 3.10 ERA (marred by a few bad outings after returning from injury), a 3.75 FIP and a 29.4 K-BB%. He wasn’t likely to return to the Dodgers, either, so now they’ll be on the lookout for the next Anderson and/or Heaney. I might have a post about that coming soon.
Finally, the Dodgers also failed to retain Tommy Kahnle. He went back to the Yankees on a 2-year, $11.5 million deal. The Dodgers signed him to a 2-year deal two offseasons ago as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. They ended up getting just 12 2/3 innings (plus two more innings in the postseason) from the deal, but it was enough for him to land a 2-year pact from his former team in the Bronx.
While the Dodgers have a good number of bullpen arms — some of which are above-average or better — they could still use some help on that front after losing Kahnle, the aforementioned Martin and Craig Kimbrel, who has less than zero chance of returning.
Today is the last full day of the Winter Meetings. There are some rumblings about the Dodgers and Carlos Correa, but with the Giants and Padres missing out on Aaron Judge this morning, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them shift their efforts to Correa (or Xander Boagerts, Dansby Swanson). We’ll see if anything happens on that front today.