Los Angeles Dodgers: Pros and Cons of Acquiring Each Top Winter Target
The Los Angeles Dodgers finally made that big-name splash we were waiting for, signing Zack Greinke to an absurd deal for six years, including an opt-out clause after three. While I like that Greinke is a Dodger now, there are many question marks surrounding the signing.
Actually, every trade or signing comes with its fair share of pros and cons—and since the Dodgers have the money to make a run at any player they want, they can legitimately be entered into the discussion for everyone.
With Greinke, Mike Napoli, Angel Pagan and many other notable free agents off the board, will the Dodgers take aim at the rest of the pool of big fish?
Chances are, they will at least "check in" on anyone available. With apologies to Adam LaRoche, Nick Swisher, Ryan Dempster and Ichiro, here is my list of pros and cons of signing each TOP remaining winter target.
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Pro: Would be a legit leadoff threat
Michael Bourn, though hardly mentioned on the Dodgers' radar, would give any team a spark at the top of the lineup. In my mind, Bourn was a top-10 MVP candidate for what he did in Atlanta in 2012.
Con: Where would he play?
The position Bourn thrives at is center field. Unfortunately for him, the Dodgers already employ a decent player at that spot. Forcing Bourn to play a new position might decrease his value a bit.
Pro: Blazing speed
It's no secret that Bourn burns up the basepaths. He gets on base, steals bases and scores runs. The guy just produces at a level Shane Victorino wishes he could, but never will.
Con: More money away from Kershaw
Don't get me wrong; I'm sure the Dodgers will pony up a blank check to extend Clayton Kershaw when the time comes. But what if something financial happens, and they suddenly are tied up in these contracts and forced to let Kershaw walk?
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Pro: Coming off a career year
Last season, A.J. Pierzynski absolutely tore it up with the White Sox, putting up some of his best numbers even at age 35. He tied his career high in RBI and crushed his personal record in home runs.
Con: Coming off a career year
What goes up, must come down. Pierzynski averages closer to a 12-homer, 65-RBI campaign most seasons. He's only getting older, and I doubt you'll see an outburst like 2012 again.
Pro: Veteran catching depth is invaluable
That being said, Pierzynski has been around for a while. He would be a great clubhouse influence if he was willing to take a backup role—and if he's willing to control his famous temper.
Con: Um, we have our own A.J.
Current starting catcher A.J. Ellis is a fan favorite who earned another year starting in 2012. Though the stats tailed off toward the end of the season, he was still one of the more consistent hitters in the lineup.
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Pro: Coming off a career year
Where have we seen this before? Kyle Lohse was positively average for most of his career before landing in St. Louis. Since then, he has been a key cog in two deep playoff runs, and was a Cy Young candidate in 2012.
Con: He was positively average for most of his career
Enough said. If you take Lohse's entire career into account, he's a third starter at best. The Dodgers could use one of those, but can probably find a comparable arm for a lot less money.
Pro: HE'S A PITCHER!
The Dodgers run two-deep with former Cy Young winners in Kershaw and Greinke now. But is that really enough? The rival, defending-champion Giants still have the superior staff, and the Dodgers could use some more depth.
Con: Who gets booted?
Let's say the Dodgers do nab Lohse this winter. That would leave them with nine starting pitchers under contract going into next year. Kershaw, Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Josh Beckett likely have secured spots, leaving quite an issue for the five remaining.
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Pro: He looked damn good in the playoffs
After a rocky start in Detroit down the stretch, Anibal Sanchez really lit it up in the postseason for the Tigers, becoming the most dependable starter on a staff that includes Justin Verlander and Doug Fister.
Con: He's not THAT good
Let's be real—Sanchez has filthy stuff and can go on pretty hefty streaks of dominance. But those two things don't make someone a "good" pitcher. I think he's at the same plane as Lohse right now, career-wise.
Pro: But behind Kershaw and Greinke...
...he would be ridiculous as a No. 3 or 4. Sanchez might push the Dodgers over the edge for staff potential, if signed. We know what Kershaw and Greinke are capable of, and there would be a lot of promise with Sanchez and Beckett.
Con: I know the money doesn't matter, but...
...is someone really going to give Anibal Sanchez $90 million or more? The Dodgers CAN, and they definitely WOULD, but it seems completely unnecessary. Save some money for Kershaw!
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Pro: Power upgrade at third base
Last time the Dodgers had significant power at the third base position, it was in the Adrian Beltre years. Kevin Youkilis isn't a 30- or 40-homer guy, but he can still crush.
Con: What happens to Luis Cruz?
Another fan-favorite who earned himself a starting job in 2012 was the unheralded Cruz. Behind outstanding defense and a penchant for clutch hits, Cruz deserves to get a real shot at a full season at the hot corner.
Pro: Gritty, veteran gamer
Youkilis just loves baseball. He's an all-or-nothing, hard-working, tough player. As if he needed any extra motivation in 2013, many people think he's on the decline.
Con: Injuries, injuries, injuries
One reason pundits believe Youk might reach the end of his road soon, is he has always been a guy who manages to wind up on the DL. Not every season, granted, but as of late it's become a regular thing.
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Pro: All-Star outfield
If Josh Hamilton was inked to play left field for the Dodgers, they could potentially form a starting outfield threesome for the National League All-Star team. Hamilton, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier would be the most ferocious all-around outfield in baseball.
Con: You know the story
I hate to resort to this, but it can't be ignored: You know Hamilton's story. He has had addiction problems in the past and needs a lot of help to stay clean. In a place like L.A., that seems very difficult and might become more trouble than it's worth for the Dodgers.
Pro: He's Josh Hamilton
Say what you want about his slumps, his past and his impending overpayment, but Hamilton is an absolute monster. He plays a dominant outfield and has 50-homer potential.
Con: Too much traffic in left field
Pun intended! I think a lot of fans want to give Carl Crawford one shot at left field, and at the very least, nobody wants Yasel Puig's path to the majors to be impeded. It would take a Hamilton injury—of which there are many, by the way—for Puig to come up in the next couple seasons and make an impact.