Was the Los Angeles Dodgers declining Justin Turner’s 2023 team option the first step in an unexpected turn of events? Is it possible Andrew Friedman and Co. don’t go after top talent on the open market and instead decide to deepen the roster with mid-tier free agents as well as their top prospects?
Some fans might be fooled by the luster of this year’s free agent class, but do Dodgers fans really want Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts or Dansby Swanson to replace Trea Turner if he were to leave? Some might. Others probably want someone more like Aaron Judge.
But in the event Judge can’t be had and those other shortstop options don’t appeal to the front office/aren’t attainable … what other choices do the Dodgers have?
Sign Andrew Benintendi? Throw a ton of money at Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodon or Justin Verlander, all of whom come with varying degrees of risk?
That’s why MLB insider Ken Rosenthal’s column in The Athletic this week has fans wondering if Friedman is going to skip out on this year’s class of top free agents, spend moderately, and roll with the up-and-coming young talent/existing core.
Are the Dodgers going to limit their spending this offseason?
"“If you’re the Dodgers, and your team is sitting on a wealth of young talent, why would you carry another $280 million in payroll when you can reach the postseason at a lower amount and stand perhaps the same chance of winning the World Series if the team gets hot at the right time?"
Rosenthal also highlighted both Friedman and team president Stan Kasten echoing the sentiment that the “next wave of young guys” is here and room needs to be made for them. Of course, there’s an alternate ending where most of those prospects are traded for All-Star MLB talent, but Friedman isn’t going to pull the trigger unless he gets exactly what he wants.
Declining Turner’s option ostensibly makes room for Miguel Vargas at third base, which many have speculated for quite some time now. The vacancy in left field paves the way for the hot-hitting James Outman. The holes in the rotation and bullpen can perhaps be filled by Ryan Pepiot, Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone and Michael Grove. Is all of that happening at once ideal? No. We’re just showing you what’s actually possible at the onset of 2023.
Throw in the rises of Diego Cartaya, Michael Busch and Andy Pages, and there are even more options. The Dodgers have perfectly executed the duality of building through the farm system and supplementing it with generational/superstar talent in free agency. They already have Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith as their offensive core. It wouldn’t hurt to add another household name, but LA has proven to be a well-oiled machine after losing top talent.
And it’s possible that 111-win machine could lose the Turners, replace them from within, and not miss a beat. Sorry if that sounds disappointing, but it’s actually a luxury most other franchises never get to experience.