Upcoming Dodger Free Agents

The Dodgers have these 8 players, who are expected to impact the team, poised to hit free agency after whatever this season becomes. We most likely won’t sign them all, so here’s our odds that we sign each individual player.

https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/free-agents/2021/los-angeles-dodgers/

It’s important to remember that this offseason may be one of a kind. After a year of losing revenue, it’s quite possible that this is the first year in a while that we don’t see a $300+MM blockbuster deal.

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Mookie Betts: 2020 Salary $27MM

We’ve already done an article on why the Dodgers should sign Mookie. And it’s pretty obvious that the Dodgers will make an effort to sign him no matter what.

The highlights are that Mookie is worth $500MM based on rough projections for his next 8 years; barring major injuries or regression. But no one will pay Betts $62MM a year, even if that is technically the market price per 1 WAR. Especially with the current economic state of the world.

Because of that, Betts may be better off taking a short term deal and hitting the market again in a couple years. And rumor has it, Betts has immediately felt at home in blue.

The Dodgers are not only one of the wealthiest teams, but have incredible financial flexibility starting this year. So with the litany of options and advantages the Dodgers have, we highly doubt Betts signs anywhere other than LA unless someone offers him a ridiculous guaranteed contract.

There is a lot of prime aged OF talent hitting the market this year, but Betts is setting the market. So it really doesn’t matter.

We still like our original estimate of Betts signing with the Dodgers for 5 years / $225MM. Or $45 million a year, with player friendly opt out options.

We say Betts = Dodgers FA Signing

Justin Turner: 2020 Salary $20MM

We also already did a deep dive into why we should resign Justin Turner. The main point being that the universal DH is here to stay and that means Turner may have a few more years of being an impact bat every day. Combine that with his experience, clutch factor, clubhouse leadership, and dedication to the team that gave him a chance to be a star, and there’s a good chance he stays in LA for the rest of his career.

The Dodgers have a top 3B prospect in Kody Hoese, but he was a 2019 pick and is still in single A. At best he’ll be on the 20 man practice squad this year. If he’s playing it means the MLB failed and too many players are getting sick. Still he looks like he could be good to go by 2022. Meaning we only need a couple years at most of Turner eating up 3B innings. Including this possible upcoming shortened season.

It’s easy to compare Turner to Nelson Cruz who didn’t break out until he was 27. At 38 he made the full transition to DH full time for the Twins. He won the Silver Slugger and came 9th in MVP voting. He slashed .311/.392/.639. His career averages are .277/.346/.527. In fact it was his best OPS, 1.031, since his 2008 breakout campaign. He produced 4.4 WAR which is technically worth about $30MM in production. He made $14MM.

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It’s easy to see a future where Turner, who broke out at 29, still hasn’t had his best season at the plate. Especially if he can focus exclusively on batting and rest his knees. Not too mention, just because we want him resting doesn’t mean he can’t still play 3B or 1B in a pinch.

Even though Turner will be the top 3B on the market, he is just too valuable to specifically the Dodgers to let leave. Even at almost 36, we like our original estimate of about a 4 year $44MM with a 5th year club option at $6MM. Aka an even 5 year $50MM contract for the Dodgers best hitter, over Betts and Bellinger, according to MLB.

https://www.mlb.com/news/top-hit-tools-in-national-league-west

We say Turner= Dodgers sign him for the rest of his career

Blake Treinen: 2020 Salary $10MM

Treinen is interesting as we haven’t seen him as a Dodger, and if this season is cancelled he’s now two years removed from the season that made him famous. The Dodgers already signed him on a low risk, high reward salary for them at $10MM. But considering we haven’t seen him play at a high level in years and the Dodgers depth of talent, him signing depends entirely on what happens with the 2020 season.

If Treinen exceeds expectations and returns to his 2018 glory chances are the Dodgers will not sign him. The Dodgers still have Jansen and hopeful closer cannon, Brusdar Graterol.

So if Treinen somehow repeats his 2018, where he had an ERA+ of 531, he’ll command way more money than the Dodgers will want to spend on him.

If Treinen meets in the middle and posts somewhere between a 2.50 and 4.00 ERA it’s possible the Dodgers sign him to a team friendly contract for a couple years that is again low risk, high reward for them. He’s only 31 and may have more greatness in him.

If he completely tanks, I think the Dodgers will sign him to another 1 year dirt cheap contract. In a shortened season reliever stats may be more skewed than ever. With the new 3 batter rule it’s possible one bad outing can ruin a relievers stats for the year and the market may not react kindly.

Overall if Treinen does bounce-back to elite status this year, he won’t be a Dodger for long. If he has a B to D- season he’ll probably resign on a short term contract. The Dodgers will always be competitive and give him a stage to prove he’s worth more.

There are a lot of past elite relievers hitting the market this year. Melancon, Britton, Robertson, Colome, Bettances, Giles, Herrera, McGee, Yates, Hand, Greene, and Hendriks just to name a few of the obviously deepest position of the 21 market. We say if Treinen signs with the Dodgers it will be 1 to 2 years at $4-10MM.

Joc Pederson

We’ll start right away and say we don’t see a future for Joc with the Dodgers. He’s ranked as the 13th top FA in the market. AJ Pollock is already signed for a deal that will probably be similar to what Joc rakes in.

Mookie and Bellinger are also young and much higher on the priority list. The Dodgers also extended Taylor who’s been known to patrol left field, and when right produces like a Javier Baez.

The Dodgers also have thrown the idea of Lux in left with how crowded with talent the infield is. They have 5 OF prospects in their 2020 top 30 list including, power monster, Dj Peters (13th overall).

It’s also worth noting the Dodgers were willing to trade Joc to the Angels mainly for a salary dump. Joc is good but he’s not great which doesn’t make him worth a long term salary increase for the Dodgers.

Joc can easily become a 40 HR player with enough ABs but it will come with a low average, a lot of strikeouts, and a lot of walks. He’s defensively slightly above average, but nothing compared to the two gold gloves in the OF next to him. The Dodgers can run a two man outfield with Bellinger and Betts and create an shallow OF rover for all they care defensively.

The Dodgers just have too much talent to spend money on someone with a B+ ceiling. We predict that Joc finally joins the White Sox rebuild at about 5 years $75MM. He would be a left handed compliment to Jimenez and Robert and possibly Abreu.

Kike Hernandez

It seems the Dodgers made their decision when they extended Taylor over Kike. He’ll be 29 going on 30 for next season. He’ll likely want to sign either a short term expensive contract or long term contract at $7-$10MM a year.

The emergence of Zach McKinstry doesn’t bode well for Kike either. McKinstry seems to be the LHB version of him that will complement Taylor versus competing with him. Not too mention his rookie salary offers serious upside value for a team that is about to dish out a lot of money to its stars.

We’d like to think that not signing Kike is more about giving him the chance to play everyday, like he deserves, for the value he’s worth. He’s a versatile defensive value like none other, and a positive emotions battery.

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Whatever clubhouse lands him will be incredibly lucky, but it’s most likely not the Dodgers unless Kike agrees to a pay cut and less playing time.

Alex Wood

Alex Wood is another 1 year contract candidate looking to impress. He was signed and announced as the 5th starter for a loaded Dodgers squad. Apparently management sees serious upside in Wood.

It wasn’t long ago, 2017, that Wood started a Dodgers season 10-0 after coming out of the bullpen to repacked injured starters. He even was named an All-Star in place of an injured Clayton Kershaw. He finished that year at 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA.

The Dodgers traded him to the Reds in the Puig/Kemp salary dump. He was supposed to be the undervalued talent for the Reds, but had a horrific, injury plagued 2019. While the Dodgers made off with Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs, who landed us Betts.

Overall, his ability to pitch as a starter or in the pen, with his Cy Young candidate ceiling, makes him very appealing on the market. However, unless he has another campaign like he did in ’17 he won’t draw too much attention is this pitcher loaded hot stove. And yes, without a particular superstar, the SP market is loaded with front end capable players.

Pedro Baez

Baez always seems to be worse than his numbers say. We may be bias but we have way too many memories of Baez giving up game ending homers in crucial moments.

Again the reliever market is so loaded with talent, Baez would need to show major improvement to be worth keeping. He may get so overlooked he’ll sign a minor league contract with an invite to spring in which case the Dodgers may sign him.

But most likely, Baez will not be worth the money for a club loaded with MiLB pitching depth just waiting for a shot to explode.

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Jimmy Nelson

Nelson was a low risk low reward depth play for the Dodgers who lost Ryu, Hill, and Madea. As of right now, he probably wouldn’t even be a top 50 name on the SP/RP market.

He was showing signs of breaking out in 2017 and than has been injury plagued ever since pitching a total of 22 innings with a 6.95 ERA. The Dodgers signed him for $1MM as a RHP for out of the pen or in case of emergency as a starter.

If he bounces back it’s possible the Dodgers take a chance on him as they obviously saw something they believed in. But the depth of the market means it will take one hell of a season for him to truly get noticed around the league.

Believe it or not, we see the Dodgers possibly taking a cheap bet on Nelson.

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