The Dodgers and Dodger fans are ready to turn the page on a fantastic 2017 season and look ahead to the 2017-2018 offseason. With the 30 other clubs already getting a head start on free agency, Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi are going to have to work quickly to get ready for the 2018 Winter Meetings in December.
The Dodgers kicked off their offseason by declining Andre Ethier’s $17.5M team option, presumingly ending his 12-year tenure with the Dodgers. Today another big decision looms as the Dodgers will be forced to decide on Logan Forsythe’s $8.5M team option.
There are a few big questions that the front office faces, starting with Logan Forsythe. If they don’t pick up his option, who will be the starting second baseman? As co-expert, Michael Wittman pointed out, Forsythe had a disappointing season but rebound nicely in the postseason. Forsythe’s 8.5M dollar price tag is not too steep for a well-rounded player that he is. The decision on Forsythe’s contract will impact the full roster as it will leave a hole in the infield.
If Forsythe’s option is not picked up, do the Dodgers look to replace him in-house or by making a move in the offseason. Michael Wittman lays out a few potential replacements in his piece earlier today. The other question surrounding the infield is the health of Corey Seager.
** Editors Note ** Logan Forsythe’s option was picked up by the Dodgers
Corey Seager was not healthy down the stretch of the season. In August and September, he was dealing with discomfort in his throwing elbow. He had an MRI in late August that showed inflammation and possibly more. There were talks about Seager needing surgery in the offseason to help fix the inflammation. Seager was able to ignore the pain through the playoffs but had a stiff back and had to miss the NLCS.
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There’s no word yet on what the Dodgers plan for Seager is this offseason. He’s clearly not 100%, and if the throwing elbow didn’t improve, he could be on the shelf heading into spring training. If Seager does need surgery on his throwing elbow, will the Dodgers consider a move for Seager to second to shorten the throw for him? Seager’s health is a big concern heading into the offseason, especially if he needs surgery.
The next question Friedman and Zaidi are facing is what to do with this outfield? Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor have solidified their spot in the lineup. Puig in right field and Taylor is still yet to be seen if he moves back to the infield (depending on Seager and Forsythe news). The Dodgers already moved on from Ethier and will likely move on from Franklin Gutierrez and Curtis Granderson. That leaves three players for left field: Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, and Alex Verdugo.
Joc Pederson showed flashes of his big bat potential in the World Series with three home runs. Andrew Toles is already working his way back from ACL surgery. Alex Verdugo disappointed with his first crack in the big leagues and will need a strong showing in spring training to get the nod. Trayce Thompson is another potential option in left, but his days as a Dodger seem numbered. That doesn’t even include the Adrian Gonzalez, who could start at first base next season, pushing Bellinger back to the outfield.
The Dodgers have a lot of depth out in the outfield, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of these four outfielders moved this offseason. The likely candidates are Joc and Trayce. They are both young players with a good amount of potential for their age. If Pederson increased his value with his World Series performance, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Friedman move him for a pitcher.
Speaking of players potentially on the move. How about Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes? Has Barnes separated himself as the everyday catcher for the Dodgers next season? If so, Friedman could very well move Grandal.
Despite an excellent outlook on the 2018 season, there are all but two spots that are solidified. Justin Turner at third and Puig in right field. We know who the starters are, but we don’t know just yet where they will play on the field. Tayor could move back to the infield to open up an outfield spot. Seager could cross the diamond to play second base to protect his elbow. Bellinger could move back to the outfield for a healthy Adrian Gonzalez. And we don’t know yet who will start at left field, second base, or catcher. And this is all without me mentioning any of the pitching staff questions!
This is the exciting part about the offseason. All these questions will be answered with moves within the organization or outside of the organization. The Dodgers have over $50M coming off the book this offseason but don’t expect them to spend big this free agency. The 2018 free agent class is far better than this year’s class, and this team has good enough depth to answer these questions in-house.