The Los Angeles Dodgers have proven they possess a spending power unlike any other (or at least they’re more willing to push the envelope on that front), but even they have their limitations as shown this offseason.
They didn’t go to great lengths to retain Corey Seager and Max Scherzer, instead letting the Texas Rangers and New York Mets win the bidding. Not signing both was understandable since that would’ve been a grand total of $455 million, but how was one not prioritized?
It’s worth noting the Dodgers have some payroll issues themselves, particularly with Trevor Bauer’s $45 million salary for 2022 which won’t be answered for until his sexual assault case is resolved. Not to mention, LA owes David Price $16 million and Cody Bellinger will make the same amount despite logging one of the worst regular seasons in MLB history.
Yup, all of that with $232 million committed to the 2022 payroll. If the Dodgers were to approach the ~$270 million range, though, like they did last year, they still have room for one blockbuster move and some depth additions (and if Bauer is suspended, they’ll have even more flexibility).
But even so, with the limitations at this very moment, it’s bad news that the Yankees are reportedly willing to make a run at Freddie Freeman, who’s been linked to the Dodgers since before the lockout.
The Dodgers might be in trouble if they get in a Freddie Freeman bidding war with the Yankees.
With Trea Turner at shortstop and no viable second base upgrades available, Freeman has been speculated to be the best fit for the Dodgers, who could then rotate Max Muncy, Gavin Lux and Chris Taylor at second base/DH and swap Justin Turner and Muncy between third base and DH. It sounds a bit wonky, but it’d definitely work because of Muncy’s experience all over the diamond (though his partial UCL tear remains a concern).
There remain other potential options for LA, like Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Matt Olson (via trade) and Matt Chapman (via trade), but Freeman offers the least risk. He’s available for money alone and it’s believed something in the $180-$200 million range can seal the deal.
As for the others? It’ll be a bit more complicated.
- Carlos Correa: likely to get a $350 million contract after hiring Scott Boras as his agent
- Trevor Story: longevity concerns linked to his elbow and play outside Coors Field
- Matt Olson: will require a haul of prospects due to demand on trade market and cost-effective salary in 2022 and 2023
- Matt Chapman: see above description
A six-year, $180 million contract for Freeman pays him $30 million per season and stabilizes the Dodgers’ first base situation. It also gives LA an out on Muncy if he doesn’t perform well in 2022 (he has a $13 million team option for 2023 with a $1.5 million buyout). Freeman and Mookie Betts would be the only two under contract beyond 2025.
But the Yankees have many more roster voids and concerns. They’ll be more desperate to spend due to endless criticism from their fanbase. Additionally, Freeman stands as the only sensible blockbuster upgrade for them because New York likes its shortstop prospects, who could debut as early as 2022, and don’t want to block them with a long-term contract for Correa or Story.
The Yankees are also in a better spot to clear some salary, with Joey Gallo, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Chad Green and a few others represented valued pieces making anywhere between $4-$10 million.
The Dodgers also have bigger concerns in their rotation and bullpen, with Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen still remaining priorities (and more additions would need to be made even if they both returned). The Yankees have fewer concerns on that front and $30 million fewer committed to the payroll.
And if the Dodgers aren’t willing to go long-term with Freeman? Forget about it.