Dodgers: Six Players Currently Facing Free Agency
By Jacob Rudner
The MLB season has officially come to a close. Baseball fans got to witness one of the greatest World Series matchups ever; and as soon as game seven ended the free agency period began. This year, the Dodgers will have six players eligible for free agency. Those players are Yu Darvish, Tony Watson, Franklin Gutierrez, Chase Utley, Curtis Granderson, and Brandon Morrow.
Directly following the conclusion of the season, free agency begins with a five day period in which teams may negotiate with their current free agents. The benefit to these days is the inability for players to talk to any other team except the one they played for that season. Teams can re-sign those players within that time span should they chose to.
The five day grace period will come to an end on Tuesday, November 7th and at that point, teams will have the unrestricted ability to sign whomever they want. The Dodgers are faced with some interesting decisions amongst their free agents as well as signing players from outside the organization.
Yu Darvish presents a challenging case. Darvish has made it clear from the minute the game ended on Wednesday that he wants to be back in Dodgers blue. He said that he, “lost his passion for baseball with the Rangers and found it again with the Dodgers” followed by “I’d like to return.” This desire to come back should serve as a positive sign for anyone willing to look passed Darvish’s poor World Series performances as it may show he is willing to be flexible regarding the dollar amount of his contract.
Putting the World Series performances aside, Yu Darvish is still an elite pitcher who will be highly sought after. The Dodgers will most likely pursue him, but it remains to be known to what end and for how many years. With the news that Tanaka didn’t opt out of his contract, that leaves Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta as the top two starters on the market.
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Brandon Morrow had a career year from the bullpen even though he did not start the season on the big league roster. In 43.1 innings, Morrow went 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA and did not surrender a single homer during that stretch. Morrow’s value is at an all-time high, and it would be a severe blow to baseball’s best bullpen if the team can not resign him.
The Dodgers will make a serious pursuit on the 33-year-old righty and it would come as no surprise to me if he ends up returning. Morrow, like Darvish, made it clear he would like to return next season. He’s expected to seek around $8MM per year but could find an opportunity to close elsewhere. It’ll be interesting if Morrow prioritizes winning a championship over being the team’s go-to guy.
Tony Watson was added via trade and could also find himself playing for the Dodgers again next year. After joining the Dodgers, Watson went 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA across 20 frames.
Watson served mostly as a lefty specialist alongside Tony Cingrani. Watson’s experience and ability to attack lefties and righties make him a valuable player to the Dodgers organization especially with the health of lefties Luis Avilan, Adam Liberatore, and Grant Dayton up in the air.
Both Franklin Gutierrez and Curtis Granderson face the same fate, they will probably not be returning to the team next year. Gutierrez, who signed a one year deal with the Dodgers before this season, was sparsely used by the Dodgers for reasons mostly related to injuries.
Granderson, who was acquired before the waiver-only deadline, was a disappointment. After joining the team, Granderson collected just 18 hits 112 at-bats. Of those 18 hits, eight of them were home runs, which translates to a .161 batting average. Granderson’s future is either with another team or in retirement.
Finally, Chase Utley will most likely part ways with the Dodgers after this season. Utley served as a backup second baseman this year as well as a mentor to young shortstop, Corey Seager. Utley did an okay job this season in his very limited role, but there is really just no room for him on the roster next year. He’s done an excellent job mentoring Seager in his first two seasons but should likely retire after this season.
In addition to dealing with those six players, and the obvious pursuit of Shohei Otani, the Dodgers will also take a look at the open market for an additional late-inning reliever. Both Mike Minor and Addison Reed look like early candidates to join the team and both could be effective in the late innings. These two pitchers could also serve as a security blanket should Morrow chose to sign elsewhere.
Next: 3 Reason Why the Dodgers Lost the World Series
The Dodgers do not have many holes to fill in what was a championship caliber roster this season. The team will also have players coming from the minor leagues to fill certain roles and that too will play a factor in who is signed. Regardless though, this offseason should really be a good one. Be sure to follow the Winter Meetings, and all offseason moves with us here at Dodgers Way.