The Dodgers have had a very successful off-season without really filling any of the holes they’ve lost to free agency. The Matt Kemp trade showed everyone that L.A. is gearing up for a loaded 2018 off-season, so is this the year the Dodgers show off their impressive collection of youth?
Brandon Morrow is gone. That’s a 100 mph fastball, wipe out 90 mph slider, 43.2 innings without giving up a home run, and playoff dominance gone to the Chicago Cubs of all teams. Yu Darvish is still out there on the market, but it looks unlikely the Dodgers will sign him as they look to remain under the luxury tax threshold.
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Meanwhile, almost every premier reliever has found a home. With the injury to Zach Britton, Wade Davis seems like the only big name left in the reliever market. However, he is 32 and will likely demand a hefty contract. It will be interesting to see what new signing, Tom Koehler, can offer, but otherwise the Dodgers don’t really have many options in the market.
That said, they have several options in their farm system. The first name to pop up is probably Walker Buehler. He also has an electric fastball, and some Major League experience. Those numbers don’t live up to his hype, however. In his brief September showcase, he showed he has the swing and miss stuff, but struggled with command. He was able to get out of the jams he created, with exception to when he faced the Colorado Rockies.
The former Vanderbilt Commodore star has to be given the chance to prove himself and what better year than this year? L.A. plans to use Buehler as a starter in the long term, so he has the potential to fill either Morrow or Darvish’s role. Whether as a reliever or a starter, if Buehler can step up, he will certainly live up to all his hype.
Pedro Baez showed glimpses of being “that guy” but self-destructed in the last two months of the season. Yimi Garcia is another name being thrown out there, but he hasn’t thrown in a year. Yadier Alvarez has the best fastball in the farm system, and Mitchell White has the best slider per Baseball America, but both haven’t seen Major League action yet. That’s a pretty tall task to fill a void like Morrow’s.
It’s a priority to stay under the luxury tax threshold this year, so any big free agent signings are out the window. However, the Dodgers have one of the best farm systems in baseball, it’s an interesting title to hold. It basically means you have the potential to be very good, but potential is just that. It needs to be tested to mean anything. What better year than this year with likely no big free agents taking up roster space? How they perform will also determine how much the Dodgers need in the 2018 free agent market.