The short answer is yes. Pay good players when you can, especially if you’re a financial behemoth like the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But the longer answer is … undecided. According to reports, the Dodgers expressed interest in Atlanta Braves free agent Freddie Freeman shortly before the lockout went into effect. And the connection made a ton of sense. LA had just lost two very good players and are in danger of losing two more when transactions are permitted once again, so why not upgrade with Freeman at first base and just shift the infield around a bit?
Well, the problem is what the Dodgers might look like come 2023. Freeman reportedly wants a six-year, $180 million contract, and you can bet somebody will push $200 million if it means out-bidding the Braves and landing his signature.
Let’s just say it takes the figure he’s seeking. That’s $30 million per year through the 2027 season. At that point, Freeman will be 37 years old. Not entirely a big deal. We’d pay it for sure. However, it seems the Dodgers have to figure out a number of other things before they invest in an aging asset, especially with Mookie Betts under contract through 2032.
Does giving Freddie Freeman $30 million per year make sense for the Dodgers?
It’s clear the Dodgers didn’t sign Corey Seager and Max Scherzer for a reason. We just don’t know what the reason is … but we can assume it’s because there might be another exodus of players after the 2022 season (Trea Turner, Justin Turner, AJ Pollock, Max Muncy, David Price, Blake Treinen, and others could all be gone).
There’s no clear plan to fix the rotation, which only consists of Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, Andrew Heaney and Tony Gonsolin (?) at the moment. There’s also the question of whether or not Cody Bellinger bounces back. If he doesn’t, at least to the degree the Dodgers are hoping, will the team be willing to pay him close to $20 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility come 2023?
Other than that, the only “building blocks” that are guaranteed to exist on this roster after 2023 are Buehler, Will Smith, Dustin May, Brusdar Graterol, and Gavin Lux. All we’re saying is, as currently constructed beyond 2022 and 2023, on paper, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to add a $30 million per year 32-year-old first baseman into the mix … unless there’s a grander plan.
Even Freddie agrees! Just kidding. Anyway, we’re not trying to be pessimists. All it takes is looking ahead on the Dodgers payroll to realize that this current core of the team is nearing its final days and the front office has a lot of work to do if they want to cultivate another contender … and it kind of has to happen quickly.
Freeman wouldn’t be a bad start to the process, but if there’s no proper supplementation, it could become a sunk cost quicker than you might imagine.