Though Justin Verlander might fall right in step with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ “coveted” short-term high-AAV deals — which has somehow become a narrative despite the only evidence of their ability to follow through on such offers being Trevor Bauer’s disastrous contract — it’s hard for fans to get excited about the two sides reportedly meeting on Monday.
With the Winter Meetings approaching, the Dodgers are conducting their preliminary business before the official dealings go down … but the extent of their involvement in a lot of these proceedings may only be exploratory.
Why? The warning signs have been here for a while. Ken Rosenthal cautioned the Dodgers might not be big spenders this offseason. Last week, Jeff Passan mentioned he didn’t think LA would go far beyond $200 million to sign Aaron Judge … meaning they will not be signing Aaron Judge, unless that’s a two-year contract.
Those are two of the must trusted MLB insiders laying the breadcrumb trail for a possible underwhelming Dodgers offseason.
If two pieces of reliable information weren’t enough for you, there’s now a third from MLB.com’s Juan Toribio, who always has his finger on the pulse.
The Dodgers are reportedly meeting with Justin Verlander … but don’t get your hopes up
"“Justin Verlander could be the perfect option for the Dodgers, but they’ll have to outbid the Mets, Yankees and Astros, all of whom have interest in the likely Hall of Famer. Signing Verlander would also eat up a large chunk of L.A.’s payroll, which isn’t expected to be anywhere near where it was in each of the past two seasons.”"
In that same column, Toribio mentioned the Dodgers have remained in contact with Trea Turner, but “the reality is starting to sink in that [he] likely won’t be playing in Los Angeles in 2023.” In the next sentences, he mentioned Turner is expected to get a long-term contract; Gavin Lux could open the season as the team’s starting shortstop; and that LA could pursue cheaper options in Xander Bogaerts (free agency) or Willy Adames (trade market).
If you think the Bogaerts’ name-drop was anything to look forward to, it was merely because he’s expected to be the “cheapest” shortstop free agent of the high-profile options available.
Last offseason, the Dodgers reportedly wouldn’t go higher than two years and $72 million for Max Scherzer, who eventually signed a three-year, $130 million contract with the Mets, which is what Verlander is rumored to be seeking.
The Dodgers finished with a $280 million payroll in 2022. If that number for 2023 is expected to be “nowhere near” that, then how can anybody envision $35+ million for Verlander when the Dodgers are already at $169 million for their competitive balance tax number without Clayton Kershaw’s $20 million for 2023 becoming official yet?