5 Potential Under-the-Radar Los Angeles Dodger Free-Agent Targets
While nothing the Los Angeles Dodgers do is really under the radar anymore, we’re still early enough into their offseason that some of the rumors haven’t been fully fleshed out. And given the Dodgers’ payroll situation and lack of roster flexibility going forward, there aren’t really even that many decisions that need to be made.
After the recent signing of Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero, the Dodgers no longer have a hole at second base. However, with Juan Uribe’s contract coming off the books, third base is a potential spot for an upgrade. In addition, Ricky Nolasco, Edinson Volquez and the trio of utility men (Jerry Hairston, Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker) will all be free agents once the season officially ends.
Therefore, there are definitely potential moves on the margins that could be used to upgrade the team. But the Dodgers’ likely pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka is already well known, so we’ll be looking at guys who have not yet reached the public’s radar.
All potential free agents are courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.
Jhonny Peralta, 3B?
Peralta is currently a shortstop for the Tigers, but he is clearly expendable with the emergence of Jose Iglesias. Whether or not he would be willing to play third base is an open question, and he will be more expensive than bringing back Uribe would be. However, he’s a more dependable source of offense—he hasn’t had the horrible years the way Uribe has—and, at 31, he is three years younger than Uribe.
A.J. Burnett, SP
With Volquez, Nolasco and Chris Capuano (likely—he has a $1 million buyout) all off the roster in 2014, the pitching staff is open and ready for an infusion of new blood. Burnett, who will pitch next season at age 37, has a career ERA+ of 105—which basically sums up his career as a slightly above-league-average pitcher.
The Pirates probably won’t let him get away, but his is a name to keep an eye on.
Matt Garza, SP
As he was a big-name acquisition at the July trade deadline, I’m not sure how under-the-radar Garza is, but I haven’t seen him linked to the Dodgers. The same logic that applied to Burnett is also applicable to Garza, but Garza also comes with legitimate health risks: He made 24 starts this season and just 18 the year before. At any rate, though, he is better than Volquez and Capuano (but maybe not Nolasco), so it wouldn’t be a shock to see the two sides linked in rumors this offseason.
Kelly Johnson, UTIL
Johnson had a surprising bounce-back season in Tampa Bay, as he posted a .235/.305/.410 line in 407 plate appearances. He also appeared at second base, third base and left field, and the versatility he brings would make him a valuable member of the Dodgers bench. In addition, having a left-handed bat on the bench would bring needed diversity to a reserve group that is likely going to lose Skip Schumaker.
Joba Chamberlain, RHP
This is NOT an endorsement. But he fits the modus operandi of Ned Colletti’s previous bullpen moves—a former big name who has fallen on hard times and poor performance (see: Marmol, Carlos; Volquez, Edinson; Wilson, Brian). Now, some of those additions worked out shockingly well, but they are a worrying sign that Colletti will pursue names rather than performance. Chamberlain had a horrible year, with a hilariously high 13.1 percent walk rate and thus a 4.93 ERA in 42 innings. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in Dodger camp as a potential relief arm.