Let’s take a look at the Dodgers roster as of today.
Of this group, I’d say the only players with a chance of returning are Morrow and Watson. Darvish could get offered a deal around five years, $100 million, and there’s no way the Dodgers are matching that. Ethier would come back only as a non-roster invitee, and you have to figure some team will offer him a guaranteed deal for a few million. Gutierrez has medical issues still. Granderson won’t be back. Utley could come back as a coach, but there’s no word on whether he wants to give up playing yet. And if he wanted to coach and I owned the Phillies, I’d make sure he coached there.
Morrow and Watson will come down to money. The Dodgers are reluctant to overspend for relievers. They didn’t bring back Joe Blanton last season. Morrow and Watson will draw interest from teams, so if a GM wants to give them a three-year-deal, that makes the chances of them coming back almost nil. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Still have contracts
Logan Forsythe. Remaining deal: 1 year, $8.5 million
Adrian Gonzalez. Remaining deal: 1 year, $22.36 million
Rich Hill. Remaining deal: 2 years, $35.34 million
Kenley Jansen. Remaining deal: Four years, $69.2 million.
Scott Kazmir. Remaining deal: One year, $17.67 million
Clayton Kershaw. Remaining deal: Three years, $105.8 million. Can opt out after 2018 season.
Kenta Maeda. Remaining deal: 6 years, $18.72 million.
Brandon McCarthy. Remaining deal: 1 year, $11.5 million.
Yasiel Puig. Remaining deal: 1 year, $9.21 million. Eligible for arbitration after season. Free agent after 2019 season.
Hyun-jin Ryu. Remaining deal: 1 year, $7.83 million.
Justin Turner. Remaining deal: Three years, $51 million.
Under team control, eligible for arbitration
Under team control, no arbitration (team can basically renew their contract unilaterally)
So, as you can see, the Dodgers aren’t losing too many people from the team that came one win away from its first World Series title in 29 years.
But who can they add?
There are two big names that come up when baseball experts discuss who the Dodgers could add: Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton. Let’s take them one by one.
Ohtani is 23 years old, throws 100 mph and hits the ball 500 feet. He wants to become a true two-way player in the majors, starting at pitcher and the outfield. In Japan, he would pitch Sunday, start at DH Tuesday to Thursday, then take Friday and Saturday off to prepare to pitch Sunday again. So, you are looking at acquiring a player who will not play half the time. He hasn’t regularly played a fielding position in a couple of seasons, so you won’t be too sure what kind of defense you would get from him.
According to Dylan Hernandez, “The Dodgers are expected to be able to offer Ohtani a bonus of only $300,000 as part of a penalty for how much they spent on amateur players in previous signing periods. Some teams can offer between $3 million and $4 million. Fortunately for the Dodgers, finances shouldn't be a major factor in Ohtani's decision. If it did, he would have remained in Japan for another two years, which would have made him exempt from the economic restrictions that will be imposed on him this offseason. Delaying his move to the 2019-20 offseason would have presented him the opportunity to sign for more than $200 million.”
So money obviously isn’t a factor for Ohtani. And the Dodgers give him the opportunity to win now. But for some reason, I just don’t see it happening. I see Ohtani ending up with the Yankees, or with another AL team where he can DH between starts.
Stanton is the 2017 NL MVP after hitting 59 homers for the Miami Marlins. He plays right field, though his numbers there are in decline, and would give the Dodgers the big bat they seemed to be missing in the playoffs. A Dodgers lineup of Taylor, Seager, Turner, Stanton, Bellinger, Puig, Barnes and Forsythe looks pretty good.
But it probably won’t happen. The Marlins are going to want some top prospects, probably Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo. Plus a couple of other players, such as Grandal and Pederson, plus a couple more prospects. For the Dodgers to even look at that deal, Miami will have to send a lot of money over in the deal. Stanton has 11 years and $310 million remaining on his contract, which doesn’t expire until after the 2028 season, when he will be 38 years old. And he has an opt-out clause after the 2020 season. This is just not the type of deal Farhan Zaidi and Andrew Friedman have shown that they have a desire to make.
Who will end up with Stanton? The Giants.
As far as the dream many fans seem to have of sending Puig in the deal, that’s not happening as long as Don Mattingly is managing the Marlins. He and Puig have a pretty toxic relationship.
Of the two players, I would say Ohtani has the best chance of becoming a Dodger. I give that a 20% chance, and put the chance of acquiring Stanton at 5%.
In other words, the Dodgers will go into next season with the same basic team as this season. They will hope Gonzalez is playing well so they can move Bellinger to left for a season.
The big changes for the Dodgers will come after next season, when Kershaw opts out, Gonzalez is off the books, and a lot of money is freed up.
But that’s OK. The Dodgers can make the World Series again with this team. It won’t be easy, but they are already the favorites among Las Vegas oddsmakers.
Shameless plug department
If you missed my appearance with former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti last month, I’ve got good news. I will be moderating a discussion with Ned about this year’s Dodgers and decisions he made during his tenure with the team on Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. at the South Pasadena Public Library Community Room. Ned will also be signing copies of his book, “The Big Chair.” And if you bring a copy of my book, I’ll be more than happy to sign it and meet the one person who bought it!
The Community Room is at 1115 El Centro St. Admission is free and doors will open at 6:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are necessary. For more information go here, or call (626) 403-7332. I guarantee you will have a good time. Please come out and say hi.
Dodgers Dugout will be out sporadically the rest of the year as news warrants. We will hit the ground running in January and be weekly until the season starts. Enjoy your holidays!