Is Julio Urías' underwhelming contract year helping Dodgers in free agency?

Julio Urías' market may not be as robust as Scott Boras previously thought ...
Los Angeles Dodgers v Baltimore Orioles
Los Angeles Dodgers v Baltimore Orioles / Rob Carr/GettyImages

Will the real Julio Urías please stand up? The Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff has taken enough hits over the last few months, but perhaps none worse than Urías' struggles. You could say the losses of Dustin May and Walker Buehler have been killers, but they're at least unable to play.

Urías, outside of an absence due to a hamstring injury, is here logging regular starts. But he can't seem to find his 2021 and 2022 self. Across 14 starts this year, the left-hander has a 5.02 ERA. He's become even more susceptible to the long ball. He's allowing the most hits per nine innings of his career.

This is a guy who led the NL in wins back in 2021 and ERA the following year in 2022. But he's never had this bad of a showing in his career and it's coming at the worst time for him.

Urías is set to hit free agency after 2023. This past offseason, many fans were wondering why the Dodgers hadn't already extended him. He was entering his age-26 season and coming off the two best campaigns of his career. Shouldn't this be a layup?

Not when Scott Boras is your agent, as many baseball fans know. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was asked about extension negotiations with Urías and he told the media those questions would be best suited for Boras, indicating a lack of interest in the agent's behalf since he almost always has his clients test free agency.

But what about now? We know Urías' market will certainly be active come November, but if he can't find a semblance of consistency by the end of the season, might the Dodgers be in a better position to retain him at their desired price point?

The problem with Urías this year has been his blowup outings. They've happened far too frequently, with the latest coming in the form of a shellacking against the Orioles during which he allowed eight earned runs on eight hits and two walks in just five innings. He's given up five or more runs in five of his 14 starts this year. He's allowed 15 home runs after surrendering just 42 over his previous 63 starts.

His FIP is right in line with his ERA. His advanced metrics are half really good and half really bad. It turns out his four-seamer and changeup are getting obliterated this year, so one can assume his command has been the main culprit.

Despite all this, knowing how the free agency market goes, the price for pitching hardly ever wavers. The younger the pitcher with a decorated resume, the more suitors and the more money. Urías should be fine, but how much more are other teams willing to bid over the Dodgers?

Additionally, teams might view 2023 as a potential inflection point in regard to Urías' future as an "ace." It was really the first time he was expected to shoulder the load in the rotation. Last season, the Dodgers had Tyler Anderson, Tony Gonsolin and Clayton Kershaw all performing at a high level. This year, it's only been Kershaw, who, still a legend, is viewed as a secondary luxury rather than a steadfast No. 1.

Might other teams now be unwilling to pay him like an ace after this year with a couple of poor postseason outings under his belt from 2022 and 2021? Probably, but it's worth thinking about who might now be focusing their efforts elsewhere, which could help the Dodgers keep him in town.