Dodgers: How early offseason signings by Braves, White Sox affect LA
As the Dodgers have stood pat, the Atlanta Braves have added an All-Star closer and the Chicago White Sox have added All-Stars at catcher and first base.
In Will Smith, the Braves met a need they would normally have had to compete with other contenders for all offseason long. Instead, the team locked up Smith to avoid his price ballooning during negotiations. In doing this, the Braves not only got Smith for likely the cheapest possible price but also avoided having to negotiate with other quality bullpen arms whose prices would rise due to competition created by teams like the Dodgers.
Without Smith being available, LA and other contenders will have no choice but to pay a little more of a premium for similarly-tiered relievers like Dellin Betances or Will Harris, amongst others. This is something the Dodgers are not wont to do, especially under Andrew Friedman. Notably, Joe Kelly did not work out quite as expected for the Boys in Blue, as he struggled so mightily in the early months that he had the chance to work a relatively small number of high leverage situations for a player who earned a three-year deal.
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Based on the Kelly failure in year one, the front office will likely opt for a less proven back-end helper to Kelly and Jansen now that Smith is off the table, or they may opt to sign a veteran starting pitcher or two to allow Julio Urias and Dustin May to supplement the bullpen and make tandem spot starts during the first half of the season.
With José Abreu locked up for the next three seasons, the Dodgers may actually see some positive effects and negative ones. On the plus side, the White Sox are still looking to add a bat in the outfield, and outside of their star second baseman Yoan Moncada and the newly acquired Yasmani Grandal, the lineup is devoid of left-handed power. Insert Joc Pederson, who could provide this boost to a budding White Sox team in need of a quick turnaround to meet the windows of Moncada, Tim Anderson, and Lucas Giolito.
Even though the Dodgers did not seem to want to sign Abreu, his exit from the market means that prices for similar right-handed power corner infielders and corner outfielders will increase. This means that Josh Donaldson’s price will likely rise and that he’ll probably get a two or three-year deal worth right around the roughly $17 million in average annual value that Abreu got from Chi-Town. Outside of Donaldson, Nicolas Castellanos will more than likely see a significant pay raise compared to Abreu’s AAV due to his age and positional flexibility.
For Grandal, his departure does little to the Dodgers other than make them thankful for Will Smith’s summertime explosion in 2019, as it sets them up to avoid spending tens of millions on a catcher.