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Dodgers Dugout: Answering some off-season questions

Justin Turner stands for the National Anthem before Game 3 of the World Series at Globe Life Field.
Justin Turner
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and we’re back after a small vacation.

There are some things to catch up on, so let’s get to it.

What are the Padres doing?

The Padres made some news this week by acquiring former Cy Young winner Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays for four good prospects: Right-handed pitchers Luis Patiño (Padres’ No. 3 prospect according to MLB) and Cole Wilcox (No. 7) and catchers Francisco Mejia and Blake Hunt (No. 14).

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Snell won the AL Cy Young in 2018, and while his numbers weren’t as good the last two seasons, he still should be considered one of the top pitchers in baseball. He will replace Mike Clevinger in the Padres rotation, as Clevinger will miss next season because of Tommy John surgery.

Snell was the guy on the mound for the Rays in Game 6 of the World Series who was removed after giving up a hit to Austin Barnes. Before that, he had given up only one hit in 5.1 innings and struck out nine. After he was removed, the roof caved in on the Rays and the Dodgers won the game and the Series.

The Padres also signed Korean League star Ha-Seong Kim to a four-year deal, according to multiple reports. In his last two seasons (1,227 plate appearances), Kim has hit .307/.393/.500 with 49 home runs and has stolen 56 bases. He can play second, short or third.

The Padres then went out and acquired pitcher Yu Darvish and catcher Victor Caratini from the Chicago Cubs for starting pitcher Zach Davies, and four prospects: shortstop Reginald Preciado (Padres’ No. 11 prospect according to MLB), outfielders Owen Caissie (No. 13) and Ismael Mena (No. 15) and shortstop Yeison Santana (No. 16). We all remember Darvish from his time with the Dodgers, but he finished second in NL Cy Young voting last season after going 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA.

So if you are a Dodgers fan, should you be concerned about all this and should the Dodgers rush to sign Trevor Bauer?

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There is no need to overreact if you are the Dodgers. The Padres are indeed a better team today than they were last week, and it’s apparent they want to win now. They also know they have to load up if they want to beat the Dodgers. However, even assuming they get Darvish, let’s compare the two rotations, with their 2020 numbers included. (WHIP is walks + hits divided by innings pitched. K/9 is strikeouts per nine innings).

Dodgers

Walker Buehler, 3.44 ERA, .955 WHIP, 10.3 K/9
Clayton Kershaw, 2.16 ERA, .840 WHIP, 9.6 K/9
Dustin May, 2.57 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, 7.1 K/9
Tony Gonsolin, 2.31 ERA, .836 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
Julio Urías, 3.27 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, 7.4 K/9

The Dodgers also potentially have David Price, who has yet to say if he will play next season.

Padres

Blake Snell, 3.24 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 11.3 K/9
Yu Darvish, 2.01 ERA, .961 WHIP, 11.0 K/9
Dinelson Lamet, 2.09 ERA, .855 WHIP, 12.1 K/9
Chris Paddack, 4.73 ERA, 1.220 WHIP, 8.8 K/9
Adrian Morejon, 4.66 ERA, 1.241 WHIP, 11.6 K/9

They traded Davies, who had a 2.73 ERA last season to go with a 1.067 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 rate. The Padres rotation is going to strike out a lot of people next season.

The Padres finished six games behind the Dodgers last season, and were swept by them in the playoffs. Their rotation today is better than last year.

But, if you had to pick one rotation, which one would you pick? I’d pick the Dodgers.

Why didn’t the Dodgers acquire Snell? Well, the Padres gave up four top prospects to get him. The Dodgers aren’t usually willing to give up four big prospects for one player. The Padres traded seven of their top 20 prospects for two good starting pitchers and a catcher.

This is all actually pretty exciting. Competition is good. A Dodgers-Padres rivalry is good for baseball. It’s good for both teams. Which team will win the division next season? There’s no way to tell right now until all the off-season moves are done. Does getting Snell and Darvish make the Padres the favorites to win the division? I don’t think so. But it will be fun to watch.

But for those out there begging the Dodgers to make a countermove or handing the Padres the division now, stop. There’s plenty of off-season left. Let’s not make any predictions until at least March, OK?

What’s going on with the Dodgers’ free agents?

Not much. Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, Blake Treinen, Pedro Báez, Kiké Hernández, Jake McGee and Alex Wood are all out there, waiting to sign with someone.

Turner: This is the free agent most Dodgers fans want back. Dave Roberts recently discussed several points about the team, and said of Turner, “He’s one of the Dodger greats. He really is. And I think it’s been six years he’s been a Dodger and he’s in elite company. His body of work is really special, unique. But it’s a two-way deal here. So, it’s the organization, the Dodgers, and it’s also Justin and his family, that they’ve got to make a decision. So, for me, selfishly, I’ll take him for as long as I can have him.”

It’s really going to come down to what other teams offer Turner. If some teams offers his four years, $80 million, the Dodgers would more than likely say “Thanks for the memories.” In the past, the Dodgers usually have a dollar figure in mind for free agents, and aren’t often willing to go past that number.

I predict he returns to the team on a two-year deal with an option for a third.

Pederson: It seems unlikely he returns. He had an atrocious regular season before his usual solid postseason. If I’m Andrew Friedman, I’m more than happy to let him sign elsewhere and then acquire him at the trade deadline, just in time for the postseason. And remember, they traded him before last season to the Angels before owner Arte Moreno backed out of the deal.

Treinen: He is intriguing because the Dodgers still don’t have a closer (sorry, I don’t consider Kenley Jansen the closer anymore) and Treinen could fill the closer role. But, the Dodgers don’t usually give big contracts to relief pitchers and shuffle the bullpen deck often during the season. This again will come down to whether another team offers Treinen a big contract that the Dodgers won’t match.

Hernández: I just don’t see him coming back. Zach McKinstry is ready to fill the super sub role, and Hernandez wants to start someplace.

Báez: Although he’s a favorite target of mine, Báez had some good moments with the team and should receive a nice ovation from the Dodger Stadium crowd when he takes to the mound for the opposition and fans can attend games again.

Wood and McGee: Wood could provide some rotation depth, but it’s unlikely he comes back. McGee is basically just a guy in the bullpen and will probably end up elsewhere.

Are they trading for Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant?

Those two have been the big rumored off-season targets for the Dodgers.

The odds of the Colorado Rockies trading Arenado to another NL West team are very long, unless the Dodgers go crazy and put together a ridiculous package for him. And it seems unlikely the Dodgers will put together a ridiculous package for him.

Demand is low for Bryant at the moment, as he had a bad 2020 (.206/.293/.351) and will probably get a little less than $20 million next season (he is eligible for arbitration). Trading for a guy coming off a bad season who is then eligible for free agency is a risky proposition, depending on what the Cubs want in return.

Who have the Dodgers acquired?

The have acquired reliever Corey Knebel from Milwaukee for minor leaguer Leo Crawford. Knebel missed the 2019 season after Tommy John surgery and had a 6.08 ERA in 15 games last season. He saved 55 games for the Brewers from 2017-18. He is your typical Dodger reclamation project who comes at a low cost and could yield a big dividend.

The Dodgers also signed Brandon Morrow and Jimmy Nelson to minor-league deals with invitations to spring training. Morrow, who pitched great for the Dodgers in 2017, hasn’t pitched since 2018 because of back and arm injuries. Nelson was with the team last season, but didn’t pitch in a game and underwent back surgery in July.

They also brought back Brock Stewart, who pitched for them from 2016-19.

What is the greatest moment in Dodger history?

I’ve asked you before to list the greatest Dodgers in history. This time, I need your greatest moments in Dodgers history. Here’s what I need:

1. Email me your list of the 10 greatest moments in Dodger history.

2. Rank them in order, with your first moment listed being your choice for the greatest moment. I’ll assign points based on where you have them ranked, with 12 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third, and so on.

3. A moment can be whatever you want it to be. The Kirk Gibson homer. The Sandy Koufax perfect game. The Dodgers hitting four homers in a row in the bottom of the ninth. Fernandomania. Winning the 2020 World Series. Winning the 1955 World Series. Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. R.J. Reynolds’ squeeze bunt. Rick Monday saves the flag. Whatever you want. Just come up with 10.

4. That’s all you have to do. Simple! Starting in mid-January or so, I’ll run the 20 moments that got the most points. So put on your thinking caps. Does Charlie Culberson‘s homer in Vin Scully‘s final game deserve a spot in your top 10? Maury Wills’ stolen base record? Don Drysdale consecutive scoreless innings streak? Orel Hershiser‘s? There are dozens of moments to choose from.

So, email me your choices at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, or just click here. Please put Dodger moments in the subject line.

In case you missed it

Howie Kendrick, former Angels and Dodgers standout, announces his retirement

Appreciation: Jairo Castillo was a rising star as a Dodgers scout. COVID-19 ended his life at 31

Making Vin Scully sound like Vin Scully ‘daunting’ for World Series video script writer

As heartless as it might be, Dodgers must move on from Kenley Jansen

And finally

The road to the World Series title. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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