The Dodgers head to Nashville with multiple questions left unanswered
After a slow, start the pitching market erupted this week with Jordan Zimmermann, David Price, Zack Greinke and Jeff Samardzija all finding new homes (and a boat load of cash). The loss of Zack Greinke stung for all Dodgers fans but at 6 years and $206M you can thank your front office for showing restraint. I won’t go into too much detail, Alex did a great job reviewing this issue which you can read here. The Dodgers now find themselves backed into a corner in their search of starting pitching. Luckily the Dodgers possess one of the most talented front offices in baseball and this is where they excel. These guys play their cards close to their chest and can wheel and deal with the best of them, as we saw this time last year they can rebuild a team in a day. Whilst the options are getting thinner, options do remain. Whatever the case, this weekend is sure to be exciting. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what could transpire in the coming days.
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On the starting front, Johnny Cueto, Kenta Maeda, Wei-Yin Chen, Hisashi Iwakuma and Mike Leake remain available on the free agent market, while Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray, Matt Harvey, Stephen Strasburg and Shelby Miller are all speculatively available to varying degrees. Of the free agent class, Cueto likely represents the highest cost (and upside) as he will seek to follow in the footsteps of Price and Greinke and get his own $30M AAV deal. Cueto would be a very solid addition to the top of the rotation but there are enough concerns about his health and performance that the $30M price tag looks like a real risk. Also of note, Cueto would not cost the Dodgers a draft pick.
Of those available via trade Fernandez is perhaps the most appealing option on the list (although you could certainly make a compelling argument for, Gray and Harvey as well). Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers have expressed interest in the young right hander but were told he is not available. It appears that the Marlins would have to be overwhelmed to move their young ace. Miller is likely the lowest cost option on the trade front, however the Braves are still asking for a ridiculous return for him so that market may take a while to fully develop.
In regards to relief help, the Dodgers have reportedly lost out on top targets Darren O’Day and Ryan Madson. O’Day wanted to pitch in either DC or Baltimore in order to be closer to his wife, while the motivation for Madson to Oakland is not yet clear. Tyler Clippard and Steve Cishek are both still on the free agent market, while the Nationals are looking to move Drew Storen and Jonathon Papelbon, the Rays will also listen on their relievers.
So What’s Next?
The Dodgers could simply sign Cueto and another free agent starter (let’s say Leake) and then go after Clippard to fill out the back end of the bullpen. However, with a team looking to win it’s first World Series since… I won’t say the number… that would feel rather lack luster really. With a talented front office such as the Dodgers’, you can bet Andrew Friedman will be looking to make a much more dynamic play, especially on the starting front. We have already heard that the Dodgers have made an attempt at Miller, Fernandez and the Indians starters and the Winter Meetings is often where all this groundwork eventuates into a deal being finalized.
To the outside observer, it would appear that the Dodgers appear poised to deal from their outfield depth. Whilst the front office has been reluctant to deal one of their outfielders so far this off season, the lack of quality options left on the free agent market mean that the Dodgers may be forced to part with one to reinforce the rotation. As a general rule, I am strongly against trading Yasiel Puig (an issue I think to be the Dodgers equivalent of White and Gold or Blue and Black) if the Dodgers can get full trade value out of him and can turn him into Matt Harvey, Sonny Gray or Jose Fernandez (and hopefully more) they may be well advised to do so. The same can be said for Joc Pederson, both are premier talents however, unfortunately, in this game you have to give up talent to get talent.
The other side of this equation is a rather strong free agent market for outfielders. While Jason Heyward is undeniably at the top of his class, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes are all truly talented players in their own right and all could be a potential fit in the event that a current outfielder is moved. All 4 profile better in the corners rather than in center so Puig, Ethier and, Crawford seem the most likely to be moved.
The Dodgers already made a move to strengthen the bench in re-signing Chase Utley to a 1 yr deal, a nice insurance policy should Jose Peraza need more time to develop (something Amanda covered here). And as we’ve already mentioned a number of times, both starting and relief pitching are a real need but otherwise the roster looks in pretty good shape.
That being said, the Dodgers could be very quiet during these meetings. But they could also pull off a blockbuster for Miller and Freddie Freeman, blind siding everybody and that’s the beauty of this front office. Keep your Twitter accounts close guys because if nothing else, these meetings will be exciting.