Following on from Alex, I take aim at the perfect off-season for the Dodgers.
Free agency is finally starting to heat up. The hot stove is burning and it’s time for the Dodgers to begin wheeling and dealing as they prepare for another championship run. The Dodgers have multiple needs the most glaring of which reside in the bullpen and the rotation and all reports have the front office searching all possible avenues for relief in those areas. There are also some smaller areas of concern which I will address below. My off-season plans were derailed when it was announced that Jordan Zimmermann had signed a 5yr/$110M deal with the Tigers, a great deal for a pitcher of his caliber. With that in mind here is my take on a perfect off-season for the Dodgers.
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- Giants laughably sign pitcher that Dodgers absolutely own
- Dave Roberts’ quote about Padres in NLDS should motivate Dodgers
Dodgers Acquire Shelby Miller, Kolby Allard (PTBNL), Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn for Jose De Leon, Jharrel Cotton, Chris Anderson and Cash Considerations
Perhaps the worst kept secret in baseball, the Dodgers need a top of the rotation starter. Following the signing of David Price, top target Zack Greinke is reportedly now seeking a 6th year at a total value of $210M which is well out of my comfort zone for any 32 year old starter, no matter how talented. Because of this, I’m looking at the trade market and Miller is one of the top arms available. At 25, Miller still has 3 years of team control remaining. Miller pitched to a 3.02 ERA and fell tantalizingly short of two no-hitters in 2015.
In return, the Dodgers are forced to give up some high-upside arms in De Leon, Cotton and Anderson. De Leon is a great prospect and it pains me to move him but the Dodgers receive 9 years of similarly talented pitching. The hope is that swallowing the Bourn/Swisher contracts means the Dodgers Don’t have to include De Leon but with the market clearing fast the Dodgers may not have a lot of leverage. While Cotton and Anderson appear destined for the bullpen with Anderson at risk of being a bust if his control issues aren’t resolved.
Allard was the Braves first round pick last year but has struggled with back problems the last year or two. As a result, the Braves may be willing to part with the young left hander for some higher floor arms. Allard would jump to number 6/7 on the Dodgers prospect list.
Dodgers Acquire OF Marcell Ozuna for Carlos Frias, Ross Stripling and Zach Lee
Given the numerous reports regarding the Dodgers outfield surplus, the thought of adding another outfielder might seem strange. However, Joc Pederson, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier are all left handed (and all come with various concerns) and so to are fellow run producers Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal (a switch hitter more dangerous from the left side). That leaves the Dodgers in need of a right-handed run producer and Ozuna represents just that. At just 24 yrs old, Ozuna posses 25 HR power, the ability to hit for average and plus defense. In return the Dodgers give up 3 pitchers whose future with the Dodgers seem rather limited.
Dodgers Sign Free Agent Relievers Darren O’Day – 4yrs/$34M and Steve Cishek – 2yrs/$8M
The fit here is obvious and the Dodgers have already expressed serious interest in the right-hander. He would be a perfect set-up man for closer Kenley Jansen and a completely different look to any other pitcher currently in the Dodgers bullpen. At 4 yrs and $36 this is hardly a bargain for the 33 year old but is perhaps the most important piece for the Dodgers this off-season.
The Nationals and Braves are also rumored to be in the race for O’Day and competition is likely to be steep but that shouldn’t stop the Dodgers from getting their hands on the submariner.
Cishek was recently made a free agent after the Cardinals decided to non-tender the former Marlins closer. Cishek struggled last year but has been an otherwise elite reliever with the Marlins. A burst of control problems appear to be the root cause for much of the right-hander’s struggles so if he can overcome that issue he should return to his prior level of performance. At just $4M annually Cishek is the perfect low risk, high reward type signing.
Dodgers Acquire RHP Danny Salazar and Triston McKenzie for Andre Ethier, Alex Guerrero, Mike Bolsinger and Cash Considerations
The Dodgers have no need to stop at Miller when it comes to stacking the rotation and the Indians have been mentioned numerous times as a possible trade partner for the Dodgers. The Indians are in need of everyday calibre outfielders while the Dodgers want quality starting pitching and both have plenty to spare.
Salazar, 23, has 4 year of team control and isn’t arbitration eligible until after the 2016 season. In 2015, Salazar pitched to a 14-10 record with a 3.45 ERA and excellent peripherals (9.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9). The right-hander features an electric fastball, which can reach the high 90’s from start to start. In return the Dodgers are forced to part with Ethier – something I was reluctant in doing however his upcoming 10/5 protection coupled with the good return it seems like the perfect ‘sell high’ situation. Guerrero and Bolsinger seem to be no more than spare parts at this stage.
Dodgers Sign Justin Upton – 6 yrs/$110
Have you ever felt the Dodgers could do with a big right-handed bat to hit behind Gonzalez? Same. Having a lineup with Puig, Turner, Gonzalez, Upton and Grandal consecutively (not to mention Pederson and Seager) could be a real nightmare for opposing pitchers and. Upton would fill the vacancy in left after the departure of Ethier in the Salazar trade.
While 6 years is a long time Upton is still just 28 years old so a 6 year contract seems like a reasonable deal. At less than $20M in AAV Upton could turn out to be a great value acquisition
Dodgers Acquire INF Brett Lawrie
The market for Lawrie is not yet clear so I have no idea what a deal for the young infielder might involve. However, if the price is even remotely reasonable the Dodgers should jump on it. The A’s are reportedly looking to move Lawrie to clear the infield logjam created by the Jed Lowrie acquisition.
Lawrie, an elite defender, with plenty of offensive upside would be the perfect fit for the Dodgers roster. At just 26, Lawrie represents a high upside player who could serve as insurance should rookie, Jose Peraza, fail to hold down the everyday job. He could also see plenty of time at 3rd following multiple statements from former manager Don Mattingly, which expressed his belief that Justin Turner isn’t able to handle the physical demands of an everyday job. Turner is also a free agent at seasons end so Lawrie would provide a very good long term option should Turner decide to take his services elsewhere. It should be noted that Lawrie is no backup player and would seemingly serve as a ‘super utility’ player along with incumbent Enrique Hernandez.
As a result of all this shuffling the Dodgers get themselves two young, controllable, high upside arms to slot into the rotation – both of which belong at the top of a rotation. They get a true impact bat from the right side which would compliment Adrian Gonzalez perfectly as well as another power hitting centre fielder in Ozuna who would pair nicely with Joc Pederson. Darren O’Day and Steve Cishek add some needed weapons in the bullpen, while Brett Lawrie is a great fit as a super utilititly.
My Opening Day Roster:
Rotation: Kershaw, Miller, Ryu, Salazar, Anderson (Wood/McCarthy)
Bullpen: Jansen, O’Day, Cishek, Howell, Baez, Avilan, Nicasio
Lineup: C Grandal, 1B, Gonzalez, 2B Peraza, 3B Turner, SS Seager, LF Upton, CF Pederson/Ozuna RF Puig
Bench: Ozuna, Ellis, Crawford, Lawrie, Hernandez