With all of the uncertainty surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers offseason, many were hoping for anything other than a deflating playoff exit that was accelerated by an exhausted starting rotation and embarrassing offensive showing.
But here we are. The Dodgers were bounced by a Braves team that’s clearly been given a jolt by the baseball gods and LA is wondering what their 2022 roster will look like with so many players set to hit free agency.
The most complicated situation among those free agents lies with shortstop Corey Seager, given his age, pedigree and expected price tag, in addition to the fact the team acquired Trea Turner, whose primary position is shortstop, at the trade deadline.
Perhaps that decision was made to brace for what’s to come, because the more and more we hear about what Seager might command on the open market, it feels like even the deep-pocketed Dodgers might opt to pass.
It’s not that Seager isn’t worth it. There are just so many other factors that play a role here and the Dodgers already have an answer on the roster. And if a former MLB GM’s prediction for Seager’s next contract is accurate, we’re just not sure that’s an investment Andrew Friedman will want to make.
Here’s what Jim Bowden of The Athletic said about Seager’s situation (subscription required):
"“It will probably take close to a 10- or 12-year deal for the Dodgers to keep Seager, and if they make that type of commitment, they should plan to play him at third base for the majority of the contract. But Seager will be in demand in what’s expected to be the greatest free-agent shortstop class in history, with a market that includes Carlos Correa, Javier Báez, Marcus Semien and Trevor Story. In my opinion, Seager tops the list because of his special hit tool, slow heartbeat and winning makeup. He’s represented by the Boras Corporation, which has a track record of getting its clients to accept the most lucrative offer. Seager will likely have most big- and small-market teams in need of a shortstop competing for his services, so it’s no sure thing he returns to Los Angeles.”"
The Dodgers do print money, but they don’t just throw cash at all of their problems (save for the boneheaded Trevor Bauer move, which, by the way, was indeed boneheaded even before his exile from MLB). This organization is calculated and strategic in their decision making. Giving Mookie Betts, a transcendent five-tool player, a 12-year contract was one thing. When was the last time LA did something like that? Let’s see:
- Clayton Kershaw: 7 years, $215 million (2014-2020)
- Matt Kemp: 8 years, $160 million (2012-2019)
- Zack Greinke: 6 years, $147 million (2013-2018)
- Andre Ethier: 5 years, $85 million (2013-2017)
- Kenley Jansen: 5 years, $80 million (2017-2021)
As you can see … not often! Does Seager pass the test here? Kershaw’s deal speaks for itself. Kemp’s came after he finished second in the MVP voting back in 2011. Greinke’s was money well spent and he logged three career seasons before opting out of his deal. Ethier was a rock solid member of the organization for a long time. Jansen is one of the best closers of his generation.
But Seager, outside of his 2020 playoff run and two All-Star campaigns back in 2016 and 2017, has missed a ton of time due to various injuries, hasn’t been great in the postseason when you look at the bigger picture, and has serious defensive question marks (he’s not exactly an overly reliable glove at shortstop and many predict he may move to third base — a position he’s logged six games at in his career — within a few years).
Perhaps the Dodgers are interested and we’re wrong. Maybe they want another powerhouse squad for the 2022 season. But if Seager wants a decade-long contract after missing 239 games since the start of 2018, we’re just not entirely sure that’s something the Dodgers would be willing to budge on.