The Los Angeles Dodgers were lucky to get their Chris Taylor contract done when they did, locking in the versatile Swiss Army knife for four years and $60 million to help flesh out their outfield/infield picture amid so much other uncertainty.
Unfortunately, this offseason still seems destined to be more about departures than additions — whenever it resumes.
Max Scherzer filled an ace role that won’t be replicated by anyone on the market. Say what you will about Corey Seager’s price tag and Gavin Lux’s potential, but Seager was an icon in this city. He didn’t take home two consecutive postseason series MVPs by accident. He’ll be missed.
No matter what the Dodgers are able to accomplish from this point forth, it’ll be a mission to fill holes with versatile options and bridge the gap until the farm system is replenished. Diego Cartayas don’t grow on trees, but there are far fewer sure things in town without Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray.
All that being said … no, the Dodgers won’t be taking a willing step back next season! They still have unparalleled star power. They still have a top of the rotation that’ll make anyone jealous. And they still have financial might to flex, at a time when most teams in baseball do not (in actuality or by choice).
There are versions of this Dodgers offseason that end with Freddie Freeman at first base. Just because we’re not projecting it does not mean it’s impossible. We still drop it in the irrational column, but Freeman’s obvious dissatisfaction with the Braves’ pre-lockout offers indicates this is something closer than a pipe dream.
As for LA’s other needs? We think they’ll add a starter via trade, and perhaps an upper echelon one at that, but will not be signing one. After all, beyond Carlos Rodon, that market’s nearly dry. We’ll cover trade additions soon (stay tuned), but these are the contracts we see the Dodgers doling out before Opening Day.
Projecting Dodgers’ free agent contracts after MLB Lockout ends.
3. Jonathan Villar: One Year, $4 Million
Jonathan Villar isn’t the sexiest name in the book, but with an eye on creating versatility for the 2022 Dodgers, he has it in spades. He’s also got speed.
Assuming the worst on Max Muncy, the season might begin with the veteran slugger on the shelf. That might mean Cody Bellinger to first, Chris Taylor to the outfield, Gavin Lux at short and someone like Villar at second. Add in a Justin Turner injury or an AJ Pollock issue, and Villar would theoretically start to see much more playing time far sooner than he might’ve expected.
Our contract projection here has the Dodgers handing out a slight raise after an exemplary 2021 season, one which Villar played for the New York Mets under a one-year, $3.5 million deal.
He certainly deserves a raise based on his play alone, as he posted 1.7 WAR and a 102 OPS+ in 454 at-bats playing third, second and short. Villar did steal a surprisingly low 14 bags after swiping 16 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 and 40 in his most recent full season with the 2019 Baltimore Orioles (when, it should be noted, he played a full 162 games and was somehow never dealt away from a last-place opponent).
If Villar’s a floundering team’s everyday solution and they’re willing to shell out an extra million or two, fine. But we project the Dodgers to be able to get modest and occasionally impressive production at a number of positions at a fraction of the cost of some bench options.
Frankly, we’d rather have Villar manning third base in a pinch than Edwin Rios. Remember how many wild swings LA took to find infield depth midway through last season, including Tío Albert? We rest our case.