There is no guarantee that the Dodgers will retain any of their top five free agents — Max Scherzer, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw — and even if they do re-sign one or two of them, there still could be significant holes to plug next season.
The team’s most pressing areas of need are starting pitching, a middle infielder if Seager signs elsewhere, a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder, bench depth and possibly bullpen depth.
A look at some of the top free agents the Dodgers could pursue this winter:
Robbie Ray (LHP)
The 30-year-old is probably the next-best available starter behind Scherzer after going 13-7 with a 2.84 earned-run average in 32 games for the Toronto Blue Jays, striking out a major league-high 248 and walking 52 in 193-1/3 innings. Ray gave up a career-high 33 homers but held hitters to a .210 average and .667 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. The average velocity of his fastball increased to a career-high 94.8 mph, up from 93.7 in 2020.
Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president for baseball operations, said the team is waiting to see what the league does with Trevor Bauer before commenting on pitcher.
Kevin Gausman (RHP)
An increase in the use of his 83.6-mph split-fingered pitch, which he mixes with a 94.6-mph fastball, 82-mph slider and 84-mph changeup, keyed a career-best season in which Gausman went 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA in 33 starts for the San Francisco Giants, striking out 227 and walking 50 in 192 innings. Gausman, who turns 31 in January, limited hitters to a .210 average and .609 OPS.
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Marcus Stroman (RHP)
What Stroman lacks in durability — he averaged 5-1/3 innings in 33 starts for the New York Mets this year — he makes up for in performance. Stroman went 10-13 with a 3.02 ERA, striking out 158 and walking 44 in 179 innings. The 30-year-old’s four-pitch mix consists of a 92-mph fastball, 85.5-mph slider, 90.4-mph cut fastball and 86-mph changeup.
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Anthony DeSclafani (RHP)
The Dodgers are plenty familiar with the Giants starter, having faced him six times this season and once in the playoffs. DeSclafani, 31, went 13-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 31 starts, striking out 152 and walking 42 in 167-2/3 innings. He relies on an 88-mph slider, a 94-mph four-seamer and 94-mph sinker and mixes in an 88-mph changeup and 83-mph curve.
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Alex Cobb (RHP)
He was slowed by a wrist injury and a blister, but when the 34-year-old sinker-splitter specialist took the ball for the Angels, he was solid, going 8-3 with a 3.76 ERA in 18 starts, striking out 98 and walking 33 in 93-1/3 innings. Cobb could be a No. 3 starter for some clubs ora nice back-of-the-rotation pick-up for the Dodgers.
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Raisel Iglesias (RHP)
If the Dodgers don’t re-sign Jansen, who racked up a franchise-record 350 saves in 12 seasons, Iglesias would be a strong closing option. Iglesias, 31, features a 96-mph fastball, an 85-mph slider, 89.5-mph changeup and a 96.7-mph sinker and went 7-5 with a 2.57 ERA and 34 saves in 65 games for the Angels, striking out 103 and walking 12 in 70 innings. He held batters to a .207 average and .610 OPS and recorded four or more outs in 16 games.
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Kendall Graveman (RHP)
If Blake Treinen slides into the closing role, Graveman, who turns 31 in December, would be an attractive setup option. With a lively 96.6-mph sinking fastball and an 87.4-mph slider, Graveman went 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 10 saves in 53 games for the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros, striking out 61, walking 20 and giving up 35 hits in 56 innings. He held batters to a .180 average and .536 OPS.
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Eddie Rosario (OF)
The left-handed-hitting Rosario, 30, won National League Championship Series most valuable player by batting .560 (14 for 25) with a 1.647 OPS, three homers and nine RBIs in Atlanta‘s six-game series win over the Dodgers. He hit .259 with a .740 OPS, 14 homers and 62 RBIs in 111 games for Cleveland and Atlanta and would be a nice complement to right-handed-hitting outfielders AJ Pollock and Mookie Betts.
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Javier Baez (SS/2B/3B)
If Seager departs, the flashy-fielding, free-swinging Baez would be a capable replacement at shortstop or second base if the Dodgers move Trea Turner from second to short. Baez, the NL MVP runner-up in 2018, hit .265 with an .813 OPS, 31 homers and 87 RBIs for the Chicago Cubs and Mets this year but had an NL-high 184 strikeouts and only 28 walks in 547 plate appearances.
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Kris Bryant (3B/OF/1B)
The right-handed-hitting Bryant, who turns 30 on Jan. 4, would be an attractive utility option if the Dodgers are unable to retain Taylor. Bryant hit .265 with an .835 OPS, 25 homers, 73 RBIs, 62 walks and 10 stolen bases for the Cubs and Giants and can play all three outfield spots and the two corner-infield spots.
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Marcus Semien (SS/2B)
The shortstop’s unselfish move to second base to accommodate 23-year-old Blue Jays star Bo Bichette did not impact Semien at the plate. He had a career year, batting .265 with an .873 OPS, 45 homers, 102 RBIs and 15 stolen bases and played in all 162 games. Semien, 31, ranked sixth among second basemen with seven outs above average, according to Baseball Savant.
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Donovan Solano (2B)
If Turner moves to shortstop and the Dodgers don’t pursue a high-profile middle infielder, the right-handed-hitting Solano would be a perfect platoon partner for the left-handed-hitting Gavin Lux at second. Solano, 33, filled a similar role for the Giants, batting .280 with a .748 OPS, seven homers and 31 RBIs in 101 games, and he is a solid defender.
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Eduardo Escobar (3B/2B)
The switch-hitter, who turns 33 in January, has considerable power from both sides of the plate, as he has shown in his last two full seasons, batting .269 with an .831 OPS, 35 homers, 10 triples and 118 RBIs for Arizona in 2019 and .253 with a .786 OPS, 28 homers, five triples and 90 RBIs this year for Arizona and Milwaukee. He also can play shortstop in a pinch.
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