With a relatively full roster already, the Los Angeles Dodgers have one obvious spot to upgrade this offseason: the starting rotation.
However, a team's rotation is never truly settled because of the uncertainty of pitcher health and because each team must fill at least five spots.
According to Peter Gammons, the Dodgers have been linked to two high-profile pitchers: Masahiro Tanaka and David Price. Each comes with concerns, though, whether it be Tanaka’s track record or what it will take to pry Price away from Tampa Bay.
In addition, Juan Uribe is likely to be the Dodgers’ top target at third base because he was such an important member of the 2013 squad, both on and off the field.
Read on to find out the pros and cons for some of the names that may be linked to the Dodgers this offseason.
Tanaka is the best pitcher on the free-agent market, and a scout quoted by George A. King III of The New York Post says that “he is better than Darvish.”
He went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in the Japanese League this past season, and according to Ben Badler of Baseball America, he is expected to command a higher price tag than Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu did when he signed with the White Sox this offseason.
No players comes without risk, and even elite Japanese pitchers aren’t sure bets.
After all, Daisuke Matsuzaka was expected to be an ace when he came across the Pacific, but he has struggled despite his stellar track record in Japan. In addition, the comparison to Darvish may not be fair, as Tanaka’s strikeout rates overseas are far lower than Darvish’s were, per Baseball-Reference.com.
Price has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last four years, and he is still just 28 years old (and will be 28 for much of next season).
He is coming off of a season in which his command took a step forward to the tune of a 5.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio that led baseball, and he is just a year removed from winning the AL Cy Young Award.
The aforementioned Peter Gammons piece contains the skeleton of a potential trade for Price, and the price tag is high.
The Dodgers would likely have to part with Corey Seager, their top hitting prospect, in addition to other potential big-leaguers. Because of the scarcity of high-impact infielders in their system, that would be a tough pill to swallow.
Furthermore, Price is coming off a year in which he failed to crack 200 innings, which raises durability concerns.
Uribe had an excellent bounce-back season in 2013, as he posted a .769 OPS, his highest since 2009. He was also very valuable on defense, which contributed to his career-high 5.1 WAR, per Fan Graphs.
In addition, he was apparently everyone’s favorite teammate, which makes him a valuable clubhouse commodity, and thus difficult to replace.
He had a career year at 33, which has to raise questions about sustainability and whether or not we just witnessed an aberration.
Also, the main difference in his offense between 2012 and 2013 was a BABIP spike, per Fan Graphs. Therefore, his resurgence was likely at least partially luck-driven.