The Los Angeles Dodgers are well-stocked for 2022, even after a number of unprecedented free agent departures that have shifted their core and left them short in the rotation.
Perhaps more than any other recent offseason, though, their work is not done entering late January.
Unfortunately, this is also an offseason unlike any other in that, no matter how strung out the front office is and has been since Corey Seager and Max Scherzer departed, they have no recourse here. They can’t move. They’re, legally, stuck.
The pessimistic Dodgers fan will take this required inactivity as a bad sign. “There won’t be enough time after the lockout to move pieces around, so why bother? Pack the likely-shortened 2022 in before it even begins.”
The optimistic Dodgers fan? Well, they’re probably closer to reality. There will almost certainly be a feeding frenzy when free agency and trade restrictions are lifted, and Andrew Friedman’s team never has any designs on taking a year off, especially after losing so many important pieces — and payroll cramps — before the lockout began.
All LA did was bring back Chris Taylor. Not to minimize CT3’s return — after all, he was the Dodgers’ MVP for large chunks of 2021 — but a four-year, $60 million contract for a utility player (even an All-Star-caliber one) should be nowhere close to the team’s final maneuver this spring.
Some things the Dodgers engage in will be expected; it’s almost as assured Clayton Kershaw will be back as it is that David Price will be on the block. However, it’s fair to say we can still expect some surprises, with so much of the roster up in the air.
Justin Turner is closer to the end than the beginning. Gavin Lux might be the shortstop of the future, but he might also be nothing. Max Muncy could be out. Freddie Freeman could be in. Cody Bellinger could still be banged up. And who on earth fills out this rotation?
Glad you asked.
3 surprise trades Dodgers can make when MLB Lockout ends
3. José Ramírez
Cleveland Guardians star José Ramírez will be the most-pursued trade target on the market whenever the frenzy begins.
After all, it’s been his destiny since essentially the second Francisco Lindor was jettisoned to the Mets, confirming everything we already thought we knew about Guardians ownership.
Cleveland’s in a strange place, and not just because we’ve still never seen the official New Era caps they’re supposedly going to sport on Opening Day (thanks, combination of the lockout and the supply chain!). They remain a pitching factory, even after losing coach Matt Blake to the New York Yankees during the 2020 offseason. With arms like Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, and Triston McKenzie behind Shane Bieber, and surely with a few names we’ve never heard of just behind them, there’s no shortage of innings-eating firepower in the rotation.
But … other that that … Cleveland’s somehow failed to address their outfield for years, during both contention windows and rebuilds. Without Lindor, masher Franmil Reyes and Ramírez represent the only offense you can trust on a daily basis, and Ramírez is slated for free agency after the 2023 season, as long as Cleveland picks up his chintzy team option (unless…).
Two years of control of a 29-year-old third baseman/second baseman who just posted 6.7 WAR and a 141 OPS+ is massive. Ramírez is a top-10 offensive threat in the game who holds his own with the glove, too. You want to stop worrying about the Great Gavin Lux Debate? Trade Lux, sell Cleveland on his ability to play the outfield, and add Diego Cartaya and Andy Pages. This is one of the only trades we’d recommend entertaining Cartaya in; Ramírez is the definition of a game-changer for a Dodgers team that could use a superstar reload.
CBS’ Mike Axisa advocates the Blue Jays pull off a Ramírez deal when the lockout wraps centered around top catching prospects Alejandro Kirk OR Gabriel Moreno, paired with shortstop Jordan Groshans and an additional piece. If Kirk/Moreno whet their whistle, Cartaya should, too, and Lux is a very solid stand-in for Groshans. The Dodgers can, and should, beat that hypothetical offer.
And speaking of Groshans…