Complete Offseason Guide, Predictions for the Los Angeles Dodgers
After the Los Angeles Dodgers failed to meet expectations for the third consecutive season, falling in five games to the New York Mets in the National League Division Series, you can be sure that changes are coming to the team.
The most obvious of those changes could be in the dugout, where the futures of manager Don Mattingly and his coaching staff are most certainly on shaky ground. But the roster will have undergone a number of changes before Opening Day 2016 rolls around as well.
How widespread will those changes be?
What follows is a look at the roster decisions Los Angeles is going to have to make heading into what will be a crucial offseason.
When you consider that the Dodgers were paying nearly $50 million in salary for players who no longer play for them, it becomes easier to understand how the team will see a significant reduction in payroll heading into 2016.
Especially if Zack Greinke opts out of his contract as many expect he will.
But thoughts of Los Angeles' Opening Day payroll will drop below the $200 million mark are misguided. For even without Greinke's $26 million salary, the club has $151 million committed to eight players. Between raises through arbitration and bringing in reinforcements, they'll be back over $200 million rather quickly.
How far above that number the team is willing to go will ultimately dictate what sort of offseason lies in store for president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office.
Players Headed for Arbitration (2015 salary)
- LHP Luis Avilan ($530,000)
- C A.J. Ellis ($4.25 million)
- C Yasmani Grandal ($693,000)
- RHP Chris Hatcher ($522,500)
- OF Chris Heisey ($2.16 million)
- RHP Kenley Jansen ($7.4 million)
- RHP Juan Nicasio ($2.3 million)
- OF Justin Ruggiano ($2.505 million)
- IF Justin Turner ($2.5 million)
- OF Scott Van Slyke ($522,500)
- RHP Joe Wieland ($590,000)
On a team full of big stars, $100 million contracts and hotshot prospects, it was a red-headed, 30-year-old utility infielder who stood tall above the rest as the Dodgers' most valuable position player. Justin Turner, who has found a home as the team's starting third baseman, will see his salary jump to $6 million in 2016.
Closer Kenley Jansen is also in line for a hefty raise as he enters his last year of arbitration.
But the Dodgers, not wanting to risk having Jensen reach free agency, will work out an extension with the 28-year-old, one that comes in slightly lower than the four-year, $42 million deal Craig Kimbrel signed with the Atlanta Braves before the 2014 season.
It's an odd situation to have a backup catcher make nearly twice as much as the starter, but it's one the Dodgers have to deal with, as A.J. Ellis will get a slight raise to $4.75 million, while Yasmani Grandal sees a sizable bump in his compensation with a one-year, $2.45 million pact.
Los Angeles' Own Free Agents and Players with Options
Potential Free Agents
- LHP Brett Anderson
- RHP Bronson Arroyo ($11 million team option)
- RHP Zack Greinke (player opt-out)
- LHP J.P. Howell ($6.25 million player option)
- RHP Jim Johnson
- 2B Howie Kendrick
- RHP Joel Peralta ($2.5 million team option)
- SS Jimmy Rollins
- 2B Chase Utley (team option)*
Zack Greinke is going to test free agency, and while the Dodgers would like to have him back, the market offers plenty in the way of front-of-the-rotation arms—most of them younger than Greinke, who will be entering his age-32 season in 2016.
Brett Anderson showed what he's capable of when he can stay healthy, trailing only Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in most statistical categories among the team's starting pitchers. But health is always going to be a concern with the 28-year-old, and with so much pitching available, the Dodgers will let him go.
J.P. Howell has been one of the few bright spots in Los Angeles' bullpen since he arrived in 2013, pitching to a 1.97 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 200 relief appearances. Knowing they can't afford to lose that kind of production, the Dodgers will sign him to a three-year, $18 million extension.
Potential Free-Agent Targets
Los Angeles can afford any free agent it wants, so anyone and everyone could be in play for the Dodgers once the market opens for business. That said, replacing Zack Greinke and improving the bullpen figure to be the team's top priorities.
Here are some of the names the Dodgers could be linked to once free agency begins:
- Johnny Cueto, RHP: Won't cost quite as much as originally thought due to mediocre results in Kansas City (4.49 ERA, 1.45 WHIP), but won't come cheap. When he's on, Cueto is as dominant as any starter in the game.
- David Price, LHP: One of the game's elite starters, Price would give the Dodgers (arguably) the two best left-handed starters in baseball atop their rotation. Mediocre postseason numbers are a bit concerning.
- Jeff Samardzija, LHP: Samardzija struggled with the Chicago White Sox but has a track record of success and less wear and tear on his arm than other free-agent starters. Won't cost nearly as much as other top options due to his late-season fade. Not a front-line starter but quality No. 2/No. 3 option.
- Joakim Soria, RHP: If he's willing to continue working in a setup role, Soria would be an excellent addition to the bullpen. Two-time All-Star also provides insurance in the ninth inning given his experience closing.
- Jordan Zimmermann, RHP: Didn't have the walk-year he was hoping for but still solid over 33 starts for Washington (3.66 ERA, 1.20 WHIP). Knows how to limit walks, miss bats and eat innings, averaging 32 starts and 204 IP over past four years.
Potential Trade Targets
The Dodgers have remained steadfast in their refusal to part with Corey Seager and Julio Urias, and that doesn't figure to change anytime soon. But the farm system remains incredibly deep, giving them more than enough young talent with upside to put a deal together.
Keep in mind there's no indication any of the players listed below are readily available...yet. But once the playoffs are over and the offseason kicks into high gear, they could be.
- Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets: The 26-year-old has been a distraction down the stretch for the Mets, whether it be his innings limits or missing workouts. Would cost a ton to acquire, but New York may dangle him to find a replacement for Yoenis Cespedes' bat in its lineup.
- Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves: Won't cost as much as Harvey but will still be expensive to add. Young (entering his age-25 season) is signed to a team-friendly deal (due roughly $40 million through 2020) and has flashed ace potential. Jon Heyman wrote for CBS Sports in August that the Braves will look to move him this winter.
Want to talk Dodgers' offseason plans or anything baseball related? Hit me up on Twitter: @RickWeinerBR