On Monday, the Los Angeles Dodgers re-signed closer Kenley Jansen and reportedly reached an agreement with third baseman Justin Turner — thereby filling two holes on their roster. Added to the Rich Hill signing from earlier in the offseason, and the Dodgers have done well to retain their best free agents.
It’s an appropriate time then to wonder just who or what might be next for the Dodgers. After all, Los Angeles may have reached last year’s NLCS but would seem to need more help if it hopes to dethrone the Chicago Cubs as the best team in the league. To satisfy that curiosity, let’s take a look at the Dodgers’ biggest remaining needs — and speculate on what they might have in mind to solve them.
1. Second base
One of the Dodgers’ few remaining free agents is Chase Utley , the soon-to-turn 37-year-old coming off a solid season. That the Dodgers have not re-signed Utley, and that they traded Howie Kendrick earlier in the offseason, suggests Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi have something bigger in mind.
That “something bigger” could well be Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier . Last season, Dozier homered 42 times and posted a career-high 136 OPS+ — numbers that make him a legitimate middle-of-the-order fit, even on a Dodgers team that already has some quality bats. Friedman and Zaidi’s interest is understandable. The question is whether the Dodgers would pay the necessary prospect cost to complete a trade.
No indication dodgers are out on Dozier, even after today’s haul
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 12, 2016
You figure the answer is yes. In addition to solving the Dodgers’ biggest need, Dozier offers additional benefits. He is under contract through the 2018 season for $15 million total, a paltry sum compared to what a comparable player would receive on the open market. For reference, the Dodgers paid Utley and Kendrick a combined $17 million in 2016. That’s an apricots-to-oranges comparison, but the point is that the Dodgers aren’t going to find a better second baseman available for less money.
All the same, if the Dodgers do pass on Dozier, don’t be surprised if they turn to Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe .
Every contender needs another good relief arm, and every contender wants another good relief arm on top of that. Joe Blanton is the only notable free agent of the bunch (sorry, J.P. Howell ), and who knows, maybe the Dodgers opt to bring him back into the fold. Otherwise, expect Friedman and Zaidi to find a veteran setup man to their liking — albeit one who’ll be making far, far less than Jansen.
Here’s where things get tricky. The Dodgers have the makings of an interesting rotation. There’s Clayton Kershaw , Hill, Kenta Maeda … and then a lot of question marks. How much are Friedman and Zaidi willing to rely on Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy ? And how much can they depend on Julio Urias knowing he’ll be limited in innings? What about the depth behind those three?
No matter the answers, it’s hard to see the Dodgers signing another mid-rotation starter. If they’re going to add a pitcher, you figure they’ll go big or small — no in-betweens. That means an ace or a No. 5 type who can be had on a minor-league deal. Exciting? Probably not, since a deal for the former seems improbable. But that’s how things appear at this point in time.
Josh Reddick ‘s departure and Yasiel Puig ‘s uncertain status complicate the outfield picture. All the same, the Dodgers have plenty of live bodies to fill in the slots. If healthy, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke make for compelling platoon picks — and, oh, there’s Trayce Thompson , too. A most-days outfield featuring Andrew Toles , Joc Pederson , and Ethier isn’t the most exciting configuration, but it would probably get the job done — at least until a left-handed pitcher entered the game. Unless the Dodgers suddenly fall in love with Jose Bautista , or have a trade option in mind, they would appear to have their outfield mostly intact.