Los Angeles Dodgers' Top Free-Agent, Trade Targets Post-New Year
The Los Angeles Dodgers have spent the offseason getting the band back together, re-signing closer Kenley Jansen, left-hander Rich Hill and third baseman Justin Turner.
There's nothing wrong with that. The trio were key contributors in 2016 and among the top free agents at their respective positions.
If the Dodgers are going to secure a fifth straight National League West crown, however, and win their first title since 1988, they need to keep shopping. Specifically, Los Angeles has holes to plug in the bullpen, the outfield and, most glaringly, at second base.
Let's examine a few realistic trade and free-agent targets, with the operative word being "realistic." Not all of these deals will happen, but they're tied to credible rumors—or at least informed speculation—and a sense of the Dodgers' needs and resources.
We'll begin with a right-handed reliever formerly employed by the Dodgers' hated rivals and end with a power-hitting second baseman who simply makes too much sense to ignore.
Sergio Romo, RHP
The ninth inning is secure with Jansen back in the fold, but the Dodgers could use another right-handed setup man to supplement in-house options Pedro Baez and Chris Hatcher.
Sergio Romo isn't a sure bet. He missed significant time with elbow issues last season and saw his average fastball velocity tumble to a career-worst 85.9 mph.
The 33-year-old finished the year healthy, however, and posted a 2.64 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. When he's right, his slider is still among the nastiest pitches in baseball.
Romo is a Southern California native, and while the Dodgers shouldn't expect a hometown discount, they should be able to lock him up on a reasonable short-term deal.
Joe Blanton, RHP
In keeping with the theme of bringing back their guys, the Dodgers could bolster the bullpen by re-upping Joe Blanton.
The 36-year-old righty was a stalwart arm for Los Angeles last season, logging 80 innings and posting a 2.48 ERA.
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reported on Dec. 27 that Blanton is drawing increased interest with most of the elite relievers off the board and that a reunion with L.A. is possible.
Considering Blanton's age, anything more than a two-year deal would be dicey. He's a known commodity, however; if he can repeat his 2016 stat line, he would be a valuable one, too.
Lorenzo Cain, CF
From a quantity standpoint, the Dodgers have plenty of outfielders.
Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Trayce Thompson and Scott Van Slyke currently populate the depth chart. It's possible, maybe even probable, the Dodgers will enter the spring with that group and sort it out from there.
Read those names again, though. Is there a slam-dunk contributor in the bunch?
Pederson brings power, speed and on-base capabilities and, at age 24, could be poised for a legitimate star-level breakout. He hit just .246 last season, however, and is a .224 career hitter.
Puig remains an enigma and may be traded at some point. Toles was one of the cooler stories in baseball last season, as he went from toiling at a Georgia grocery store to debuting with the Dodgers. He's probably a fourth outfielder on most contending teams, however. The same goes for Ethier, Thompson and Van Slyke.
Cain battled injuries last season and appeared in only 103 games. He was a beast in 2015, however, playing top-shelf defense, slashing .307/.361/.477 and finishing third in AL MVP voting. That Cain, or something close to it, would push the Dodgers' offense to the next level and solve the outfield puzzle.
There hasn't been much recent chatter, so it's possible the Royals' asking price was too high or they simply aren't selling. Cain is signed for $11 million in 2017 and will be a free agent after that, so he's not worth gutting the farm.
As a reclamation gamble with massive upside, however, he defines intriguing.
Logan Forsythe, 2B
If the Dodgers do nothing else this winter, they need to add a second baseman. The best option on the current roster is Kike Hernandez, whose .190/.283/.324 2016 slash line says utility player in flashing neon lights.
The free-agent cupboard is mostly bare, but there are a couple of trade candidates the Dodgers should zero in on.
The 29-year-old hit .264 with 20 home runs last season for Tampa Bay and is owed $8.5 million in 2017 with an $8.5 million option and $1 million buyout for 2018.
He won't come cheap in trade, but it's possible the Dodgers could swing a deal without touching any of their top prospects, including right-hander Jose De Leon.
"Forsythe isn't exactly a household name, but he has been a very good and underrated performer for the Rays the past two seasons," CBS Sports' Matt Snyder noted in November. "The Dodgers could do much worse in filling their hole at second base (or third) this offseason."
He's right. But they could do better...
Brian Dozier, 2B
We arrive, inevitably, at Brian Dozier.
The two sides, Heyman noted, have agreed on De Leon as part of the deal "but are said by sources to be having difficulty agreeing on the second and possibly third pieces."
Dodgers fans are shifting nervously at the thought of another top MiLB name such as outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger being shipped to Minnesota.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has a tendency to covet his young chips, however, so it could take some give on the part of the Twins to get a deal done.
Here's what no one can deny: Dozier would make the Dodgers much, much better.
The 29-year-old clubbed 42 home runs last season with 99 RBI and finished 13th in baseball with 5.9 WAR. He's signed for $6 million next season and $9 million in 2018, so he wouldn't strain the budget. His right-handed bat would provide a boost to a lefty-heavy L.A. lineup that hit a paltry .213 against left-handed pitching in 2016.
Even if his power numbers nudged down at pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, he'd join shortstop and NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager to form one of the most potent keystone combos in the game.
It's not up to him, but Dozier sounded receptive to the idea of packing his bags for Southern California.
"Obviously the Dodgers have come up, and it's one of those things that is exciting," he said in early December, per ESPN.com's Doug Padilla. "If you don't embrace the opportunity to let all of this soak in and see how teams value you, then you lose out. I think it's pretty cool."
If Dozier ends up clubbing balls into the stratosphere at Chavez Ravine, the Dodger faithful will undoubtedly agree.