The No. 1 player option the Los Angeles Dodgers and their fans want declined is that of Trevor Bauer’s in 2022 … because nobody wants to deal with him anymore.
But don’t expect that to happen. He’s not going to turn down a record $45 million salary and even flinch to hint at any sort of guilt as legal troubles continue to consume him.
Anyway, let’s get to an actual productive conversation as it pertains to the Dodgers’ daunting offseason. A lot of guys are hitting free agency. Others might require position changes. The pitching staff badly needs to be addressed.
But what about a couple of other unexpected additions that could elevate the team? We’re not saying base your offseason plans around them, but some scenarios you may have not been previously considering may become a reality relatively soon.
Two very valuable sluggers have player options for the 2022 season they might decline in an attempt to get a more lucrative multi-year deals, especially with the universal DH likely looming.
Let’s take a look at how these might convince the Dodgers to pivot.
These two players options could help the Dodgers upgrade in 2022.
2. Nick Castellanos
Who wouldn’t want Nick Castellanos, if we’re being honest? And if the Dodgers aren’t sold on AJ Pollock in left field next season (they can probably easily trade him after his postseason performance and the fact he’s an expiring contract), then why wouldn’t LA go after Castellanos, toss him in left, and put him alongside Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger?
Castellanos has officially rejected his player option, leaving two years and $34 million on the table in what is a smart business decision for a multitude of reasons. The first? Get out of Cincinnati. Easy. The second? He’s coming off an All-Star campaign and is entering his age-30 season. It’s time for a true payday after his best year in MLB.
He won’t be cheap … but do the Dodgers care? If there’s a chance they’re going to lose Corey Seager and/or Chris Taylor, they need to supplement those possible departures with a bat just as impactful.
Not only would Castellanos be able to do that, but he’d be an upgrade in left field, even though he’s played just 20 career games there back in 2019. He started off his MLB career as a third baseman, so it’s not like it’d be a complete change of scenery for him. Also … it’s not like the Dodgers have put Gold Glovers out there over the last few years. Pollock, Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo?
Yeah, and Castellanos could easily transition to DH later on in his career should this be a lengthy deal (assuming the universal DH is adopted). Sign the good players, figure out the potential kinks later down the road.
1. JD Martinez
Another All-Star, JD Martinez has been a revelation for the Red Sox ever signing what ended up being a bargain five-year, $110 million contract before the 2018 season. His only “bad” year was the shortened 2020. Every other campaign featured a trip to the Midsummer Classic and OPS+ numbers of 173, 139 and 126. He led MLB with 130 RBI back in 2018. He led MLB with 42 doubles in 2021.
He’s got a $19 million player option for the 2022 season and it appears as if he’s leaning toward rejecting it. However, his situation is a bit more complicated than Castellanos’.
Should he become a free agent, though he would be an immediate fit for the Dodgers, would he be a multi-year fit? Let’s examine it a bit more closely.
Martinez is entering his age-34 season, which will be his final opportunity to secure one last chunky contract. Sure, he appears to have plenty left in the tank, but do the Dodgers need another aging option? At this point in his career, he’s pretty much a full-time DH, too. Putting him in the outfield is more of a liability than an advantage.
For 2022, this would be a great fit, again, assuming the DH arrives in the NL. But beyond that? Isn’t Justin Turner going to take over that role if it exists since he’s all but officially a Dodger for Life and the team would rather a more agile option at third base? And say the Dodgers bring back Corey Seager. We’ve heard chatter about him moving to third base. If that happens, then JT is a shoe-in for DH possible as early as 2022, but definitely 2023 (assuming his team option is picked up).
The Dodgers won’t be signing Martinez just to eventually stare down the barrel of possibly jettisoning Turner by 2023. Maybe Turner plays a ton of third base over the next two years, though? Is that a possibility? He did just appear 151 games, which is a career high for him in a single season.
Like we said, this scenario is a bit more complicated, especially since it could involve displacing a Dodger legend. If that’s what it might come to, then scrap it. But if the Dodgers see JT as their starting third baseman for the next two years? That changes things.