Since Andrew Friedman and company took over the front office, the Dodgers have not been the type of team to throw big money at a big free agent. They need to carry over that trend into this off-season.
The Dodgers got as close as they possibly could to hoisting the Commissioners title in 2017. That feeling of being so close, yet so far from a title may cause fans to overreact and want the Dodgers to bring in a big name. However, that is exactly the opposite of what needs to happen. They need to stand pat and continue making incremental moves.
The biggest factor in not spending money this off-season is so that they can go big in the 2018-2019 off-season. This year the big names that are available are relatively old for the contract that they are seeking. Next year, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are the big bats that could be available. We should make a big run at one, if not both of them.
For us to do that, we need to resist the temptation of making an unnecessary signing that could put us out of the running from these two bright stars in baseball. After 2018, the Dodgers will have many bad contracts off the books. Brandon McCarthy and his $11M will be off the books, along with Scott Kazmir’s $17M and Adrian Gonzalez’s $22M.
Those three contracts will open up the checkbooks come next off-season. That accounts for $50M in salary relief off the books after next season. That’s two consecutive seasons where the Dodgers’ front office will shed over $50M, freeing up about $100M for 2018 free agents. There is no need to fill those contracts with older less talented players. It’s best to set the team up for the 2018 off-season while still being a World Series contender during the 2018 regular season.
That brings me to my second point. We do not need to pay any big names in to win a title. The group of players we have now is more than capable of getting us a title. Incremental upgrades to improve the already deep roster would help this team more than a big name.
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Something that is actually quite intriguing is bringing in players on one-year contracts. A strategy that the Dodgers could utilize is just to sit back and wait. See how the cards turnover and then make a move. Likely, the big fish won’t fall until late winter. Meaning the middle of pack guys will be waiting to see their worth.
Players like Jhoulys Chacin could be an option. He may want to take a chance on himself this year and sign a one-year deal to stay in a division that he pitched relatively well against. He probably not a risky choice if he agrees to a one-year contract.
Doug Fister is another guy who will not get many looks so he may have to settle for a one-year deal. He could be a nice risk to take on a short-term deal, hoping he can revert to his old self. He’s a California kid, so a hometown discount is a real possibility. Similarly, Chris Tillman needs a one-year deal to prove his worth, and he is a California kid as well.
Both of these veterans may take a short-term and cheap deal to come home and prove that they could still get it done in the big leagues. These are exactly the type of players Friedman targets and should continue to target this off-season. Low risk, high reward is exactly what these pitchers are.
On the offensive side of things, some players fit the same mold as the pitchers listed above. Adam Rosales is an option. A typical utility player that could fill in whenever and wherever you need him to. He is chasing a ring, so a discount to play for a winner will be likely. Stephen Drew is also a similar player just from the left side of the plate.
This front office loves versatility so it would be no surprise if they went out and signed Eduardo Nunez if the price is right. He is a great player when healthy. His health may force him into a cheaper contract, which is exactly what the Dodgers are looking for. He fits the mold perfectly. Play him wherever and he produces at a near elite level.
Even if the Dodgers make no moves, it is okay. They will still be competitive and likely make another appearance in the NLCS. They are still built to win a title whether or not they make a move. Nevertheless, making a big move this year could cost them future titles.