Los Angeles Dodgers Free Agents: Top Targets to Keep with the New Payroll

Jeremy Dorn@@jamblinmanAnalyst IIISeptember 25, 2012

Los Angeles Dodgers Free Agents: Top Targets to Keep with the New Payroll

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers now have a pretty unlimited payroll. I think their end of July and early August spending spree proved that finances aren't a problem. But they will have a handful of players who are heading into free agency this winter with money signs in their eyes.

    Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are locked up long-term. Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez are both under contracts that the Dodgers took on. Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis are returning, and most of the rotation will be back.

    But who can the Dodgers not afford to let get away? Here is the list of free agents they will have to negotiate with, straight from MLBTradeRumors.com:

    Matt Treanor, C

    Adam Kennedy, 2B

    Juan Rivera, LF/1B

    Shane Victorino, OF

    Bobby Abreu, OF

    Joe Blanton, SP

    Brandon League, RP

    Jamey Wright, RP

    Todd Coffey, RP

    Randy Choate, RP

Matt Treanor, C

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    You'd think with Treanor's limited number of games played this year, it wouldn't be imperative to keep him around next season. While the Dodgers could easily go out and snatch a backup catcher with similar numbers to Treanor, there are a few reasons to keep him around.

    In his limited time, Treanor showed certain stretches where he could flat-out hit. And if this late-season slump by A.J. Ellis is any indication, we're going to need a backup who can hit come crunch time next season. 

    Not to mention, Tim Federowicz isn't quite ready for the big leagues, so having a veteran as a second option would be a nice bit of insurance for Don Mattingly.

    The main problem with bringing in a new catcher to back up Ellis is that Treanor is now used to the starting rotation, which will return almost completely intact in 2013. That's something you can't teach—chemistry.

Jamey Wright, RP

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    Wright is an absolute workhorse out of the Dodgers' bullpen. It seems like he throws an inning every single game—and for the most part, he's done a fantastic job.

    Aside from the fact that Wright has really earned a spot in the bullpen with his performances this year, he's got two things going for him. First, he's a veteran who will be surrounded by at least a couple of rookies out there next season (Shawn Tolleson, Josh Wall come to mind).

    And secondly, nobody is hungrier for playoff experience than Wright. He's been in the league for a very long time and has yet to see one single postseason appearance. With the Dodgers in 2013, he should be on a team favored to make a solid run at October.

    Give the guy his due, and don't make him earn it the hard way with another non-roster invite to spring training!

Randy Choate, RP

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    Choate is another bullpen arm who must stick around. Who knows how long Scott Elbert will be out or if his arm troubles will continue next season? And though rookie Paco Rodriguez has done a ridiculously great job since being called up, you have to stick with the veteran.

    Over the years, Choate has proven himself to be a very reliable left-handed specialist, something that is direly needed in a bullpen in modern baseball. 

    The old adage is true: You can never have enough pitching. And unless the Dodgers make a huge splash in a relatively weak starting pitching free-agent market this winter, the 'pen will be worked to its bare bones again in 2013. 

    Much like opposing teams always have a southpaw ready to neutralize Andre Ethier, the Dodgers need to be able to fire back with someone like Choate who can make life difficult for the likes of Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman.

Shane Victorino, OF

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    I know a lot of people are hating on the Flyin' Hawaiian in L.A., since he's been so underwhelming since being acquired. But it's still Shane Victorino, people. Even if his batting average dips, he's still going to play great defense and steal bases.

    In a lineup with so much potential power, it's good to have an option like Victorino to hit second when he's hot, eighth when he's not. Either way there's always the threat that Victorino will lay a bunt down, steal a bag and generally mess with the opposing pitcher's head.

    And if you believe in this kind of thing, Victorino is a great guy with a huge clubhouse presence. His personality seems to fit in perfectly with what the Dodgers have assembled. 

    Here's a deal-breaker: Would you rather sign Victorino for a little more money to patrol left field, or give chump change to a clunker like Juan Rivera? I thought so.

Brandon League, RP

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    Abso-freakin'-lutely! I was wary of the trade that brought League over to the Dodgers because I was never impressed with his late-inning demeanor on the mound. I quickly realized that was mostly due to my inability to care about paying attention to the Mariners.

    League has filthy dirty movement on his pitches and is a guy that can come in and get a huge ground ball when needed. He throws a really good splitter and can light up the radar gun, too. 

    With Kenley Jansen's heart problems now recurring, who knows if he will be able to make it through a full season in 2013? It's always nice to have a backup option for the ninth inning who is as good in and as used to the role as League.

    At the very least, Jansen stays healthy and the Dodgers now have a terrific setup man in League. Again, you can never have enough pitching—and this is one arm you can't let go in free agency.