Next year’s roster
With the World Series over, all attention can turn to the 2016 season. What will the Dodgers roster look like on opening day? Let’s look at the playoff roster (and those who just missed being on that roster) and guess who will and won’t be back. In the first part of this three-part series, we look at the position players.
Yasmani Grandal: He had shoulder surgery after the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs, so he should be back at 100% next season. He is eligible for arbitration and should get a nice raise over his $693,000 salary of 2015. Projected 2016 stats (courtesy baseball-reference.com): .236, 15 HRs, 50 RBIs.
A.J. Ellis: A solid backup who is also eligible for arbitration. I fully expect the Dodgers to bring him back based on his solid second half (.255, .376 OB%), great defense, and the fact Clayton Kershaw loves pitching to him. Projected 2016 stats: .225, 8, 33.
Adrian Gonzalez: The heart of the Dodgers offense is signed through the 2018 season. Unless some team makes an unbelievably lopsided trade offer, he’s not going anywhere. Projected 2016 stats: .272, 23, 88.
Howie Kendrick: As a free agent coming off a good season (.295 9, 44, 1.1 WAR), expect a handful of teams to offer him a nice contract, one the Dodgers won’t want to match. Right now, Jose Peraza would be the leading candidate to start at second next season. Projected 2016 stats: .286, 10, 56.
Jimmy Rollins: Also a free agent, I don’t see him coming back, especially since shortstop now belongs to the next guy on the list. Projected 2016 stats: .235, 12, 42.
Corey Seager: This guy could be the starting shortstop for the next 10 years and is the leading candidate to win rookie of the year in 2016. Projected 2016 stats: .294, 8, 33.
Justin Turner: The Dodgers’ best position player last season, Turner is arbitration-eligible and should get a raise from his $2.5 million salary. Expect him to be the starting third baseman again, unless they want to move him to second to take over there. Projected 2016 stats: .293, 13, 55
Kiké Hernandez: He is fully under the Dodgers’ control and will be on the team again next season, unless the team uses his versatility as trade bait for a starting pitcher or reliever. Hernandez could also fill the void at second base. Projected 2016 stats: .279, 10, 35.
Alex Guerrero: The Dodgers still owe him $14 million over the next two seasons, so he will be back. However, after his horrible second half (.206, 1, 6), he needs to impress in spring training or the team could very well cut its losses, especially since he is brutal defensively. Projected 2016 stats: .239, 12, 41
Chase Utley: He won’t be back, but listing him gives me a chance to ask Mets fans a question: Were those of you irate at Utley for his slide in the NLDS also irate at Noah Syndergaard for pitching up and in at Alcides Escobar during Game 3 of the World Series? Syndergaard, after all, admitted he did it on purpose, and if he was a fraction off, he could have beaned Escobar, possibly ending his career or even killing him. I can’t wait to hear your excuses as to why that was OK, but what Utley did wasn’t. Projected 2016 stats: .247, 11, 52.
Carl Crawford: I’m sure the Dodgers would love to trade him, but Crawford is still owed $43 million over the next two seasons, and no team will be foolish enough to take on that contract. Since either Crawford or Andre Ethier will be traded this off-season, that means the Dodgers will have to eat Crawford’s contract or deal Ethier. Projected 2016 stats: .273, 7, 32.
Andre Ethier: The moody right fielder is owed $35 million over the next two years and is coming off one of his best seasons (.294, 14, 53). I expect the Dodgers, tired of his emotional outbursts like the one he had in the dugout with Don Mattingly in the NLDS, to trade him for some pitching. Projected 2016 stats: .267, 11, 50.
Joc Pederson: The starting center fielder for the foreseeable future, hopefully he will work on shortening his swing in the off-season. Projected 2016 stats: .228, 20, 48.
Yasiel Puig: It is far too soon to give up on Puig, who turns 25 in December. He still had an above-average season on offense (109 OPS+), and when he’s in right field, no runner tries to take an extra base. The big worry is his hamstring problems, which appear to be chronic. Projected 2016 stats: .288, 14, 47.
Scott Van Slyke: If the Dodgers released him, traded him or kept him, would anyone really notice? Projected 2016 stats: .256, 12, 41.
So as of now, the Dodgers’ projected 2016 lineup looks like this:
In the next Dodgers Dugout, we’ll take a look at the pitchers. And in the one after that, a look at the potential free agent they could sign. By the end, you should have a good idea of what the Dodgers roster will be next season.
Next man up
In their search for a new manager, the Dodgers are going to interview former Angel Darin Erstad for the job. Erstad has no professional managing or coaching experience, though he has coached Nebraska’s baseball team the last four seasons. Seems unlikely that the Dodgers would hire someone with such little experience.
At his introductory news conference Monday, new Marlins Manager Mattingly said that Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach would be joining him there as bench coach, so you can scratch him off your list as potential Dodgers manager. It would be nice to have a player with Dodgers ties to manage the team, but it’s looking more doubtful that that will happen. Gabe Kapler remains the top candidate.
What should the Dodgers do about Zack Greinke? Steve Dilbeck takes a look here.