Evaluating the Dodgers’ shortstop options: From Trea Turner to Carlos Correa to Gavin Lux
It’s been a long time since the Dodgers have had a hole at shortstop.
Of the many reasons the Dodgers have remained annual World Series contenders in recent seasons, their shortstop play has ranked near the top.
This winter, however, the spot is in flux.
Turner is a free agent, and in line to receive the same kind of massive payday the Dodgers were unwilling to give to Seager a year ago.
If Turner departs, there is no superstar successor already in-house who can slide into the potential opening.
And while there are several other big-name alternatives available in free agency, the Dodgers are still deciding exactly how they want to address the position leading into next season.
“There are a lot of options externally and we have good options internally,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said during this week’s MLB general manager meetings. “So we get to wade through that market and figure out what ultimately makes the most sense.”
The first step will be determining Turner’s future.
It’s not certain Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner will be Dodgers next season, but Andrew Friedman says it’s a priority to have both on the roster.
The two-time All-Star and 2021 National League batting champion didn’t post his best numbers in 2022 (his .298 batting average and .809 on-base-plus-slugging percentage were his lowest since 2018) but still ranked among the most productive hitters in the majors, and especially among shortstops.
Turner has said repeatedly he would be open to a return to Los Angeles, and said his agents had discussions with the Dodgers before the season about a potential extension.
But now that he has reached the open market, chances are he will wind up somewhere else next season, though general manager Brandon Gomes said Wednesday the team is “ in contact with Trea and looking at that market.”
Correa is considered the pick of that class, a fellow two-time All-Star and Gold Glove defender who opted out of his contract with the Minnesota Twins after the season.
The only problem: He was one of the faces of the Houston Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal, a controversy that remains a point of anger for many Dodgers players and fans, alike.
The Dodgers haven’t publicly eliminated the possibility of pursuing Correa this offseason. Gomes said the team will try to first “stay objective” while evaluating his talent level, then sift through the complications and potential ramifications of his involvement with the cheating scandal if Correa emerges as a legitimate target.
“We haven’t spent too much time on it right now,” Gomes said, “because we think that’s something that will probably be more down the line.”
Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, downplayed the impact the scandal might have on the Dodgers’ interest in his player.
“Their goal is they have to win, and it’s hard to win,” Boras said during his scrum with reporters Wednesday. “You don’t let certain things get in the way of professional sports.”
Still, it’s likely that any genuine pursuit — or eventual signing — of Correa would prove too toxic for the Dodgers to attempt.
And while Bogaerts and Swanson still beckon as other All-Star alternatives, the Dodgers aren’t seen as frontrunners for either of them.
Add it all up, and it might give Gavin Lux, the club’s former top prospect who became the everyday second baseman this season, the inside track to taking over at shortstop in 2023.
Friedman raised that possibility unsolicited when discussing the Dodgers’ shortstop options this week, saying the team “feel good about” Lux’s ability to take over at shortstop if that’s how the offseason plays out.
While Lux has battled defensive inconsistencies, with his throw in particular, at times earlier in his career, Freeman cited the 24-year-old’s time filling in for an injured Seager in 2021, and performance at second base this past year, as positive signs. He also noted that shortstop is Lux’s original position.
“He did it coming up and he was good,” Friedman said. “His whole life he’s been a shortstop. That’s more natural to him than second base.”
There are other possibilities, as well. Several other shortstops, such as Willy Adames of the Milwaukee Brewers or Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox, could emerge as potential trade pieces. The Dodgers also have a triple-A prospect skilled in defense in Jacob Amaya, although Friedman said his offense might need more time to develop in the minors.
For now, the Dodgers are trying to give themselves as many options as possible, working to ensure one of their longtime organizational strengths remains that way next season.
“There are a lot of options externally and we have good options internally,” Friedman said. “So we get to wade through that market and figure out what ultimately makes the most sense.
“It’s no different than a lot of offseasons of vetting external options vs. internal and how the puzzle kind of gets put together. There’s a lot of different ways to go about it.”
Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten backs Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts but says of the roster: ‘We are now on the precipice of the next wave of young guys.’
Surgery possible for Treinen
After battling shoulder troubles all season, Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen could still require surgery this offseason that would cost him most of the 2023 campaign.
While speaking to reporters Wednesday, Gomes said that surgery is a possibility for the 34-year-old right-hander, who missed most of the season with a partially torn shoulder capsule before suffering another shoulder setback in September.
Treinen, who signed a one-year contract extension with the Dodgers midseason that included a conditional option for 2024, did make one appearance during the Dodgers’ NL Division Series against the San Diego Padres.
However, Gomes said the team has been “weighing different options of how to go about the offseason” with the pitcher, and that surgery remains on the table.
Daniel Hudson progressing
The Dodgers are hopeful that reliever Daniel Hudson will be ready for the start of spring training or shortly thereafter, Gomes said, as the veteran right-hander continues to rehabilitate from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cut short his 2022 season.
Gomes said Hudson, who got hurt in late June but signed a contract extension to stay with the Dodgers next season, began throwing again near the end of the season and has been progressing well.
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