Carlos Correa, Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, and of course Aaron Judge have all been linked to LAD at some point. IMO this is primarily because baseball journalists are always quick to point out that the Dodgers have an unlimited supply of cash for payroll. They often mention that the Dodgers have cleared about $100MM from the 2021 payroll, and that is true. But does anyone believe the Dodgers are going to generate another $290MM payroll for 2023? I am not in that camp.
I see no way, no how, the Dodgers sign Aaron Judge. But I will not say they 100% will not. Come on Aaron, just re-sign with NYY and let’s get on with the Hot Stove League in earnest.
So it will not be $100MM that the Dodgers will spend in free agency. I have been out front that I believe the Dodgers will in fact reset the CBT threshold, and have said so since before the season ended. I think they want no obstacles next year for Shohei Ohtani.
The CBT threshold is $233MM for 2023. I calculate the expected payroll to be just about $185MM, or $48MM under the threshold. That includes Clayton Kershaw at $20MM, but does not include Trevor Bauer.
The Dodgers can eat that up with Justin Verlander, which is why I do not believe they will. They were not willing to go 3 years with TA. I cannot see them going 3 years for a 40 year old pitcher, no matter how good he was last year.
Plus, they have an Ace in Julio Urías and three potentially solid if not spectacular #2 – #4 with Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin. Do the Dodgers dare go with a rookie in the #5? I can see that, but what concerns me is that I do not see the Dodgers getting away with #2 – #4 pitching through the season without injury, and if any of them are injured come playoff time, they will be caught short handed for the third season in a row during the playoffs. I see the kids as the depth this year, and ready for prime time in 2024.
But if JV is willing to do 2 years, I think the Dodgers would go over the CBT threshold for him. JV has a home in LA. Last year the Dodgers lost their #5, and then signed Freddie Freeman who is a long time #5. This year the Dodgers lost #35. Could that be a clue that JV (also #35) is coming to LA? Just sayin’.
Will they sign a pitcher to a 3 or 4 year deal or go with a short term reclamation project as they did with TA and Andrew Heaney? I am going with short term reclamation project.
The other prominent high priced FA target mentioned for LAD is SS. I am convinced they cannot sign Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts. Until AF signs a Scott Boras client to a deal, I am going to continually believe they will not.
Swanson’s contract will not be that onerous for Atlanta. I think it is simply posturing by AA saying they can move Vaughn Grissom to SS. The Braves are setup for a lengthy window with their core signed up long term, and with getting Mike Soroka back in 2023. I cannot see AA letting a player like Dansby Swanson walk. The Braves caught a lot of flak by not signing Freddie Freeman. I cannot see them doing it a second year in a row.
The Dodgers have a lot of leeway to sign high priced free agents, but I do not think they will. And if they do not spend it on top tiered FA’s, who will they target? That brings me to the latest rumor…Mitch Haniger. Haniger has long been a target for Bums. But now that he is a FA, Haniger does not need to be traded to end up with LAD. But alas, I still do not see a fit. Haniger is a RH hitting OF. He is primarily a RF, but he can easily transition to LF. That is not the problem.
Haniger has spent a LOT of time on the IL:
- 04/26/17 – Strained right oblique
- 07/30/17 = Facial laceration
- 06/17/19 – Ruptured testicle
- 06/28/20 – Lumber microdiscectomy surgery
- 04/30/22 – Right high ankle sprain
IMO, the Dodgers will pass on Haniger.
Is Andy Pages an OF in waiting for LAD? Even more reason to pass on a RH hitting OF.
It makes more sense to me for AF/BG to sign a LH hitting OF. If they only want a short term LF, then Michael Brantley makes sense. But if Houston wants him back, I see him signing a one year deal with them. He is comfortable there, and he is liked. Why not play where you are liked and comfortable in the final year(s) of your professional career.
I still think that Andrew Benintendi is a consideration here. The consensus is that he will be a $14MM or $15MM AAV and either 3 or 4 years. I doubt the Dodgers will go 4 years, but then AJ Pollock was a FA signing that came out of the blue. Benny will be playing as a 28 year, so 4 years is not out of line. I just do not know how comfortable AF/BG is giving an OF a 4 year deal, when they just protected Pages and Jonny DeLuca, and still have José Ramos potentially in line.
Benny’s IL stints:
- 08/25/16 – Sprained left knee
- 08/12/20 – Rib cage strain
- 06/14/21 – Rib fracture
The Dodgers have a lot of holes, ample CBT threshold $$$ to make FA acquisitions, and ample MiLB prospect capital to make trades. What will they do?
I have used similar lines, but I am going to steal Houston Mitchell’s line here.
“I wish I could offer more clarity, but Andrew Friedman plays things close to the vest, and he has yet to use the direct hotline to tell me exactly what he plans to do.”