Dodgers’ payroll suggests they could be planning for massive re-tool
Two offseasons ago it was Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill who left the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last year it was Joc Pederson, Kiké Hernandez, Alex Wood, Jake McGee, and Pedro Baez. This year there’s already been Corey Seager, Max Scherzer and Corey Knebel … with Clayton Kershaw still floating in the lockout waters and closer Kenley Jansen reportedly expected to depart.
Are we witnessing a pattern as we draw nearer to what might be a franchise-altering offseason after 2022?
They reportedly weren’t close in the bidding for Seager or Scherzer and willingly let a number of valuable depth pieces depart last year. Kershaw is a free agent for the first time in his Hall of Fame career.
That all sounds shocking, but when you look ahead to next offseason, the Dodgers might just be willing to let things play themselves out and won’t be overreaching for anybody (well, aside for Trevor Bauer for some reason, though it was a short-term deal).
Is a major Dodgers re-tool coming after the 2022 season?
Los Angeles is still involved in a couple encouraging offseason rumors, namely the sweepstakes for Freddie Freeman and Carlos Rodón, with some looser speculation tying them to Carlos Correa, but any lockout buzz is closer to conjecture than anything else until transactions are permitted once again.
And with another potential exodus of players coming a year from now, is it possible the Dodgers are looking at a major re-tool and are willing to let fate decide this upcoming season? Here’s who could be gone next November:
- AJ Pollock (team option)
- Max Muncy (team option)
- Justin Turner (team option)
- Blake Treinen (team option)
- Austin Barnes
- Trea Turner
- David Price
Then you have the complicated case of Cody Bellinger’s final year of arbitration. Will he be extended? Non-tendered if he doesn’t perform well in 2022? Julio Urías will be in the same boat, but he’ll have many suitors in free agency if he’s not extended. The complicated decisions are never ending.
There’s perhaps a reason the Dodgers reportedly wouldn’t go more than two years for Scherzer or eight for Seager. Could we also read into the fact Trea Turner hasn’t been extended yet? Or that Kershaw is still a free agent? Or that manager Dave Roberts still doesn’t have an extension? Of the Dodgers’ $282 million payroll in 2021, $250 million of that was being paid to veteran players, and with Mookie Betts and Chris Taylor the only ones guaranteed to stay on board beyond next season outside of the obvious arbitration-eligible guys (Walker Buehler, Will Smith, Cody Bellinger, Julio Urías and a few others), there’s a good chance this roster could look very different within the year.
If you want hope that doesn’t happen, however, it’s that the 2023 free agent class isn’t great, so it might be too big of a risk for LA to part with this much talent when there’s not equal or better value out there.