For the first time since Tommy Lasorda managed the Los Angeles Dodgers, they made back-to-back appearances in the fall classic. Yes, there have been calls for Dave Roberts to be fired, but that just goes to show you how spoiled L.A. fans are. Let’s be clear, Roberts isn’t going anywhere, nor should he. The only thing that is going to change in 2019, are the players on the roster. There are a handful of free agents headed into the winter this year. Here is the breakdown and predictions.
Let’s take a look at the options:
PLAYER: Clayton Kershaw
Outside of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper hitting the open market, if Clayton Kershaw were to opt-out of the remaining 2-years on his contract, he would immediately become the best pitcher on the market. With his recent injury history and drop in velocity, he is not the pitcher he was just three years ago. However, he’s a different version of himself and can dominate a lineup.
PREDICTION: He opts out, but resigns with the team on an extension that includes the two years remaining on his current deal.
PLAYER: Manny Machado
This one is rather simple.
PREDICTION: Take that lack of hustle to Philadelphia
PLAYER: David Freese
A waiver wire addition that worked out well for both parties. Freese hit well in both the regular and postseason. Being a veteran presence on a team with lots of it already present, he led off two postseason games, he was able to stable the squad. In 2019 there may not be a whole lot of veteran presence around with the retirement of Chase Utley. He has a club-option of $6 million for 2019.
PREDICTION: I believe he has played well enough to get that option picked up, start at first base with some kind of platoon with Max Muncy, letting Cody Bellinger roam center field.
PLAYER: Yasmani Grandal
The Dodgers are in an interesting position with Grandal. They can offer him a qualifying contract, that would come in at $17.9 million, and if he decides to decline the deal, they will be awarded a compensatory draft pick. Two things strike me about the possible outcomes here. Grandal may have heard too many “We Want Austin” chants to stick around, and declines the deal just to get out of here. I can also see the Dodgers not wanting to sacrifice the cash attached to the qualifying offer, and not make the offer at all. With Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith waiting in the wings, they are only looking for a 1 to 2 year stop gap until one of them are on the big league team.
PREDICTION: Dodgers make qualifying offer anyway, and hope he declines. Which he will.
PLAYER: Hyun-Jin Ryu
Ryu had a great stretch of solid starts in the second half, but had a less than adequate showing in the postseason. With the injury history, and unproven track record, he won’t be so lucky to even sniff a qualifying offer. He won’t command a lot of cash, but he would be appealing to many clubs as a 4th or 5th starter.
PREDICTION: Returns to L.A. on a one-year deal.
PLAYER: Ryan Madson
He was a nice addition at the deadline, pitched very well in the regular season. However, that didn’t carry over when the calendar flipped to October. If Madson wants to keep pitching, he may decide to retire, it won’t be with the Dodgers.
PREDICTION: Signs elsewhere on a 1-year deal.
PLAYER: Brian Dozier
No one wanted Logan Forsythe any more. Fans offered to buy his plane ticket to anywhere that would offer a bag of used baseballs for him. Since coming over from the Minnesota Twins, he continued his less than impressive 2018 season and didn’t add much pop to the lineup. There are better options on the market, and in house, to replace him.
PREDICTION: Dozier walks.
PLAYERS: Daniel Hudson, John Axford, Tom Koehler
Simply, these guys didn’t do much to help their case to return to the team in 2019. I could see Hudson or Koehler being invited to spring training on a minor league deal, but nothing else.
PREDICTION: Koehler signs to a minor league deal, Hudson and Axford look for employment elsewhere.
This will leave some holes to be filled going into spring training in 2019. Next week, I will break down what those options are and who the Dodgers can feasibly add and how far they open the checkbook. With them getting below the luxury tax threshold this past off-season, I don’t see them staying below it for consecutive years. However, don’t get too excited, I believe they will still be rather frugal in offering long contracts with lots of zeroes attached to it.
Photo: Yahoo! Sports