3 high-priced Dodgers who could get the axe after terrible 2022 starts
Despite an offensive drought and a number of costly injuries, the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the NL West and still possess the talent to make a postseason run. Nothing Andrew Friedman can’t fix at the trade deadline, if we’re being honest.
However, if we look ahead to the 2023 season, the Dodgers are in an interesting spot. They’ve set themselves up nicely where they can either run it back with the cast of players they currently have and still have money to spend … or they can tear it all down and spend huge money in free agency.
According to Baseball-Reference, the Dodgers have $87.7 million committed to their 2023 payroll (that doesn’t include options or players eligible for arbitration). But they only have a few players up for arb, so that won’t move the needle too much. If they pay everyone in arbitration and pick up all the contract options, they’ll still only be at $198 million, which leaves plenty of room to flex the financial muscle.
That bigger number includes Trevor Bauer’s $35.3 million player option, which likely won’t be a factor assuming his suspension is upheld. Among the others weighing down the roster, David Price’s $16 million, Craig Kimbrel’s $16 million and Tommy Kahnle’s $3.45 million will come off the books.
Additionally, Clayton Kershaw, Trea Turner, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Anderson, Daniel Hudson, Austin Barnes and others will hit free agency, so there will be a ton of holes to fill. Those guaranteed a contract beyond 2022 include Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Chris Taylor and Blake Treinen. That’s it.
It’s kind of crazy to even ponder this, but there are a few other veteran players who could be sent packing with their high-priced arb salaries/options after their terrible starts to 2022. Would the Dodgers actually do it?
These 3 high-priced Dodgers could be gone after 2022 thanks to slow starts
3. Max Muncy
In just a few months, Max Muncy went from Dodgers Team MVP to complete liability, likely stemming from his end-of-season elbow injury in 2021. So far in 2022, Muncy is hitting .157 with a .593 OPS and 68 OPS+. He posted just four homers, five doubles and 19 RBI through 52 games. Really bad.
For the 2023 season, Muncy has a team option worth $13 million (or a $1.5 million buyout). The Dodgers laugh at a salary as low as that, but they also like to ensure they’re getting the proper contributions. Across two of his last three seasons (2020 and 2022, 110 combined games), Muncy has accrued a weak 0.8 WAR (in 2021, he was worth a beautiful 4.4).
His three-year, $26 million contract signed not too long ago looked like a considerable bargain, but the Dodgers can likely spend less or the same amount for better production (and Muncy will be in his age-32 season next year, so it’s not like they’d be jumping ship too early).
Muncy’s been shaky on defense and a black hole in the middle of the lineup. If this persists throughout the remainder of the season, don’t be surprised if the Dodgers try their luck elsewhere with plentiful cash to make it happen.