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As of today, the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as other MLB clubs, are about a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting for duty in 2019. There are still so many questions to answer before, and likely, after, players start arriving at Surprise, Arizona.

The two largest free agents are still unsigned. One of them just finished up the season as a Dodger in Manny Machado, and the other, potentially about to begin his first season in blue, Bryce Harper. However, there are lots of other domino’s that can, and will, fall before the Dodgers settle on a final 25-man roster for the regular season.

The two most glaring questions on the diamond are what to do at second base and catcher. Will we see Kiké Hernandez, Chris Taylor, and Andrew Toles in a massive platoon split at the two bag, or will the Dodgers sign a free agent? I believe there are stronger candidates available to man the position, at least at sixty percent of the time, than what is in house. Marwin Gonzalez, Jed Lowrie, DJ LeMahieu, or even bringing back Brian Dozier all might look to be improvements over internal options. Each of them have their own pros and cons, but there are definite all-stars on that list.

The second question is, who is going to man the dish? Can the Dodgers really count on Austin Barnes being the staple behind the plate, while bringing up a very green rookie in either Will Smith or Keibert Ruiz? I think that answer is a very obvious “no.” They will have to do something. It appears the JT Realmuto trade isn’t going to happen any time soon, not with the asking price being Cody Bellinger, Smith, AND additional prospects. They could pull off a much smaller outgoing package to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Francisco Cervelli, which would still be an upgrade over Barnes. There is also a very familiar backstop, who is one of the top 5 catchers in the game, still available in Yasmani Grandal. Yes, he had a terrible showing in the playoffs, and a melt down against the Milwaukee Brewers, but the catcher position is not all that deep, and he is the clearly the best option. I believe the Dodgers find a way to sign Grandal to a 1 or 2 year deal, as a stop gap before one of the young kids are ready for the show.

With all that being said, I didn’t even mention Harper and the fact the Dodgers just traded away two right hand hitting outfielders. I am still not convinced the Dodgers are as interested in him as the rumors make it sound. There are options, possibly even better options, that come at a lower price without a long term commitment at $30-40M a year. I have already mentioned Gonzalez who can play the outfield, who is a switch hitter, and has a 2.5 WAR. Compare that to Harper, who would bat left handed in a lineup already swelling with left handed bats, whose WAR is 1.3. Additionally, Harper is a known liability in the field. Speaking of liabilities in the field, Nick Castellanos is available via trade with the Detroit Tigers. Castellanos has a WAR higher than both of them at 2.9 and is a power right handed bat. There is also a free agent the Dodgers are very used to seeing in A.J. Pollock, who, when healthy, can be an all-star himself.

In short, there are a lot of questions that need to be resolved in the next 34 days. Hold tight, Dodgers fans. There is something coming. Will it be big, loud, and a blockbuster type of move? It’s possible. I believe the front office will take that money and spread it around to fill the gaps this roster currently has, without committing to 7 plus years and nearly $300M in payroll.

My prediction for the Dodgers: resign Grandal to a 1-year deal, sign Pollock and LeMahieu. If going for positional flexibility is more important, I could see swapping out LeMahieu for Gonzalez being the preferred option.


What do you think? Would you rather see the Dodgers ink Harper to a deal or would you rather secure other assets and still be flexible in the off-seasons to come?


Featured Image: dszc/Getty Images

 

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