6. Andrew Heaney
When the Dodgers signed Andrew Heaney just days after the World Series concluded last year and gave him $8.5 million following a career-worst season and full-on meltdown in New York, fans thought the front office was insane. But Heaney was a pleasant surprise.
The left-hander finished with a 3.10 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 1.09 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 72.2 innings (16 total games, 14 of those starts). But he was injured multiple times this past season. Towards the end, his well-known homer-prone tendencies took the spotlight.
With plenty of rotation needs, he could return as the fifth guy or a spot starter. He might be amenable to it since the Dodgers clearly put him on a path to be “fixed.” But the Dodgers might prefer a better upgrade with Walker Buehler out and two other important starters hitting free agency.
5. Tommy Kahnle
Originally, the Dodgers signing Kahnle for a $5.5 million deal after the 2020 season seemed like a disaster … until September. Though the right-hander has only thrown 14.2 innings since the middle of 2020, his devastating changeup returned and could be seen as an asset for the bullpen moving forward.
Kahnle won’t be expensive due to his struggles with injuries, but the Dodgers will have to weigh the risk of bringing him on board and not getting enough out of him — regardless of how valuable he might be at full strength.
4. Justin Turner
The Dodgers still haven’t decided if they’ll pick up Justin Turner’s $16 million team option for 2023. The fact that it’s taking so long might suggest the front office has other thoughts about how they’ll address third base/the DH spot. The Dodgers icon had a legendary second-half surge after an awful first half, but then disappeared in the NLDS. It happens. Baseball isn’t easy. But it’s unclear if the Dodgers will want to pay $16 million for Turner’s age-38 season when they have a younger option in Miguel Vargas ready to go.
3. Tyler Anderson
Tyler Anderson was arguably the most valuable Dodgers starter in 2022. And he began the year in the bullpen! And got paid less than Heaney!
The left-hander went 15-5 with a 2.57 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 1.00 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 30 games (28 starts), totaling 178.2 innings. He then tossed five scoreless innings in the NLDS, but the Dodgers blew the game with some questionable decisions from manager Dave Roberts.
Anderson will likely get the qualifying offer, but don’t be surprised if a multi-year deal is worked out between the two sides given how he turned his career around in a big way with just one year in LA.
2. Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw said he’s leaning on playing in 2023 … but he didn’t specify where. Last offseason he revealed it came down to the Dodgers and his hometown Texas Rangers. With far more roster questions for the Dodgers this time around, are fans sure he’ll stay if this will be his final MLB season?
You never know, retirement could be on the table, too, as the offseason progresses. Kershaw is a first-ballot Hall of Famer but he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2015. His body has been gradually breaking down (just 44 starts the last two years). He knows he can return at his request, so his preference will tell the story here.
1. Trea Turner
Trea Turner is one of the best free agents set to hit the market. He’s expected to get a long-term deal. He could very well return to the Dodgers after another All-Star season. He’s one of the best all-around shortstops in the league.
But he’ll likely get a $200 million+ contract. The Dodgers already have Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman signed to sizable long-term deals. Will they add a third? Does Turner want to be closer to home on the east coast? Will another team wildly out-bid the Dodgers in their quest to get a superstar shortstop?
The Dodgers reportedly will consider Carlos Correa if Turner leaves. It wouldn’t be farfetched if they got in on Dansby Swanson, too. The other option? Sign Aaron Judge, move Mookie Betts to second base, and Gavin Lux to shortstop.
Whether he returns or not, the Dodgers need to replace his five-tool production. Either way, they’ll be paying top dollar to do so.