Los Angeles Dodgers: Eight Potential Free Agent Signings in 2011
For most teams coming off a disappointing season, it's relatively simple to evaluate the current roster, take a look at the payroll budget, have the coaching staff gather and brainstorm, then come up with a new, enthusiastic game plan for the upcoming year.
But for the Los Angeles Dodgers, about the only thing certain is that new manager Don Mattingly will be running the show on the field for the Boys in Blue.
With the McCourt divorce seemingly an infinite monkey on their backs, the Dodgers are unsure of the payroll parameters for next year, and with more than a handful of gaps to fill in terms of player personnel, it's difficult to guess the complexion of next season's roster.
The Dodgers still have a formidable core of players in which to build around, but Colletti had already stated that no job is safe and that Los Angeles could be in for a large roster shake-up heading into next season.
Several trades are possible, but with the decision in the divorce trial looming, Los Angeles may be forced to remain inactive at the winter meetings, unless some type of budget guidelines are established before a verdict is rendered.
As for the free agent market, the number of high quality starting pitchers is limited, but there are quite a few power bats available—one area the Dodgers must certainly address. With Manny Ramirez out of the picture, and Jason Schmidt, Orlando Hudson and Nomar Garciaparra finally off the deferred money list, there may be enough cash to go after a few big names.
The following slides show eight players who the Dodgers may take a look at in the offseason, and explain why each player may be a good fit for Los Angeles.
J. Meric/Getty Images
Not long after the 2010 MLB World Series comes to an end, quite a number of teams will begin the bidding war for star left fielder Carl Crawford.
Already, the New York Yankees are among the favorites to sign Crawford, and depending on the number of teams involved in pursuing him, Crawford's contract offers could seemingly skyrocket past any amount of money the Dodgers could afford.
Without a doubt, Crawford would compliment Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier perfectly in the Dodgers' outfield. There's not much room for criticism in Crawford's game. In the 2010 regular season, the four-time All-Star hit .307 with 19 home runs and 90 RBI, while adding 110 runs scored, 30 doubles, 13 triples and 47 stolen bases.
At only 29 years of age, it's very possible that Crawford's best years are still ahead of him.
It may be futile for Colletti to place a bid for Crawford, but it surely wouldn't hurt to try.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Kevin Gregg is coming off a career-high 37 saves for the Toronto Blue Jays, and depending on exactly how many teams are in the market for a hard-throwing right-handed closer, Gregg could sign a one-year deal for less than $5 million.
It's tough to guess which direction the Dodgers will go with their relievers, but if Jonathan Broxton draws an attractive deal for Los Angeles, there may be a few gaps to fill in the bullpen. Gregg could easily be used as a set-up man or a closer, and could fit in nicely among the rotation with Kenley Jansen and Hong-Chih Kuo.
Gregg, 32, was being pursued by the Dodgers before the 2010 trade deadline, but instead Los Angeles chose veteran Octavio Dotel, whose 2010 contract was worth about $500,000 more than Gregg's.
If the Dodgers do indeed decide to pursue a reliever, Gregg could be among the top five in a market led by Rafael Soriano, who could be entertaining offers as high as $10 million per year.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
In 2010, Omar Infante had one of the most productive seasons of his career, and with a projected salary of less than $4 million, he could be one of the steals of the free agent market if the Atlanta Braves decide to let him walk.
Infante's primary position is second base, however he does have the ability to suitably cover shortstop, third base, and both corner outfield positions. Infante, 29, earned a trip to the 2010 All-Star Game for the first time in his career.
In 134 games this year, Infante hit .321 with eight home runs, 15 doubles and 47 RBI. His OPS of .775 is above-average for a middle infielder.
Ryan Theriot remains a question mark at second base as the Dodgers look towards the future, and Infante could conceivably fill that gap well.
J. Meric/Getty Images
With Casey Blake almost a guarantee to see time as a utility infielder next year, Jorge Cantu could be an option for the Dodgers to fill in the everyday spot at third base.
Cantu, 28, has the potential to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100, and has the ability to cover at both second and first base as a bonus.
After a sizzling start with the Marlins this year, Cantu cooled off a bit after being dealt to the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline. His history suggests that he still has at least a few productive years ahead of him.
Cantu is expected to sign a one-year deal most likely valued at approximately $6 million with incentives.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Aside from Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth may be the second-most sought after outfielder this winter.
It difficult to speculate if Werth, 31, would have any interest in returning to the Dodgers after spending two seasons in Los Angeles in 2004 and 2005.
Regardless, Dodgers fans can dream. Imagining an outfield with Andre Ethier moving back to his natural position in left field, Matt Kemp in center, and Jayson Werth in right could rekindle all the hopes that were lost in 2010.
Werth's arm is among the best in the business, and he continues to boast excellent offensive numbers year after year. In the 2010 regular season, Werth hit .296 with 27 home runs and 85 RBI, while adding 106 runs scored, 46 doubles, and 13 stolen bases. His OPS of .921 was among the league leaders for outfielders.
With the bulk of their payroll wrapped up in Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Roy Oswalt, it's unlikely the Philadelphia Phillies will be able to compete in the bidding war for Werth. The Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers are expected to be early favorites to sign Werth, but it wouldn't hurt for the Dodgers to throw a number at the right fielder.
Werth earned $7.5 million this year, and may net as much as $12 million annually in a multi-year deal.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Cliff Lee will once again be the hottest commodity on the starting pitcher market this winter, but hard-throwing righty Carl Pavano may rank in the top three of all free agent starters.
The former All-Star had a stellar season this year for the Minnesota Twins, compiling a 17-11 record with a 3.75 ERA while registering two shutouts and seven complete games.
At 34 years of age, Pavano is expected to sign a one or two year deal worth somewhere around $8 million annually. If the Dodgers decide to pass on either Ted Lilly or Hiroki Kuroda, who each earned in excess of $10 million this year, Pavano could easily fit into the Dodgers' budget parameters.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
One of the first areas that the Dodgers will address in the offseason is the power department, and Washington Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn certainly fits the bill.
In 2010, Dunn, 30, put up 38 home runs for the second consecutive season. He also added 36 doubles, 85 runs scored, and 103 RBI, while posting an OPS of .892. Dunn's career high in home runs is 46, which came in 2004 with the Cincinnati Reds when he was 24 years of age.
If Dunn became the Dodgers' everyday first baseman, Los Angeles would be sacrificing defense for much needed power, and it would be assured that the club would try to deal current first baseman James Loney.
Dunn will be seeking a multi-year deal worth at least $12 million per year, but would more than likely be open to a single-year deal if the price is right.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
There are three different names in the mix for Los Angeles in the catching department for 2011, but if the Dodgers were able to sign Victor Martinez, several question marks would disappear in a hurry.
It's still unknown if current catcher Russell Martin will have the ability to rebound from a season-ending hip injury, and Ned Colletti will be faced with a decision to offer Martin a deal or wait and see what the arbitration avenue may resolve. Regardless, even when healthy, Martin's offensive numbers continue to decline perennially.
If signed, Rod Barajas could easily fill the back-up role, while A.J. Ellis could stabilize the catching spot at Triple-A Albuquerque, if not traded.
With Martinez, the Dodgers would get a switch-hitting catcher who also has the ability to play first base. In 127 games this season, Martinez hit .302 with 20 home runs, 79 RBI, 32 doubles and 64 runs scored.
The four-time All-Star is only 32 years of age, and seemingly has at least a few years of productivity left in the tank. It's expected that Martinez will be seeking a multi-year deal worth at least $8 million annually.