Category Archives: Los Angeles Dodgers

Season Outlook: Los Angeles Dodgers

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. Logan Forsythe – 2nd baseman
  2. Corey Seager – Shortstop
  3. Justin Turner – 3rd baseman
  4. Adrian Gonzalez – 1st baseman
  5. Yasmani Grandal – Catcher
  6. Joc Pederson – Center Fielder
  7. Yasiel Puig – Right Fielder
  8. Andrew Toles – Left Fielder

Projected 2017 Starting Rotation:

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Rich Hill
  3. Kenta Maeda
  4. Scott Kazmir
  5. Julio Urias

Season Outlook:

The Dodgers didn’t make too many additions this offseason, but acquiring 2nd baseman Logan Forsythe is the one move that could make the Dodgers even better. Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Adrian Gonzalez are the most dangerous and consistent threats in the Dodgers lineup. However, if their lineup is to ever become dangerous then they will need more consistency from players like Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, and Yasmani Grandal. The offense for Los Angeles is already really good and if those 3 players show up consistently then their lineup could be unstoppable. Meanwhile, the Dodgers still have star pitcher Clayton Kershaw who is remarkably elite every year. Rich Hill also had an amazing season in 2016 as he had a 2.12 ERA and if he can pitch like that again in 2017 then the Dodgers rotation should be really good. Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir are also really good options for the Dodgers in their rotation as the 3rd and 4th options. Julio Urias has by far the biggest upside in the Dodgers rotation as he is only 20 years old and he has already had success in limited action for Los Angeles last year. He figures to get a full-time role in the Dodgers rotation in 2017 and if he performs well then he could make the Dodgers rotation sensational. Re-signing elite closer Kenley Jansen will maintain the stability in the Dodgers bullpen and Sergio Romo/Pedro Baez should be really good late inning options as well. Overall, there aren’t many weaknesses on this Dodgers roster and they are definitely world series contenders heading into 2017.

Prediction: 1st place in the NL West

clayton-kershaw

Biggest need remaining for every NL West Team

Arizona Diamondbacks – Biggest need: Bullpen

The Arizona Diamondbacks had a decent bullpen until they let go of quality relief pitchers like Brad Ziegler, Tyler Clippard, and Daniel Hudson. However, they haven’t done much to replace those guys this offseason. Arizona signed 39-year old Fernando Rodney to be their new closer, but who knows how much production that he has left. Rodney has been inconsistent in recent years and he was awful with a 5.89 ERA with the Marlins last season. Even if he does turn out to be good for Arizona, they still have nobody else besides him in the bullpen. Arizona has a big need for 7th and 8th inning help and time is running out for them to find somebody to fill those roles.

Colorado Rockies – Biggest need: Catcher

Colorado has a really dangerous lineup, but if there is one weakness in their lineup then it is definitely at the catcher position. As of right now, Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy would be the options at catcher for the Rockies. However, neither of those guys have proven that they can be everyday catchers. Wolters is a former infielder and he only hit .259 with 3 home runs in 2016 for Colorado in 71 games played. Those aren’t good offensive stats especially for a guy that plays most of his games at Coors Field. Both Wolters and Murphy are nothing more than backups, but one of them will have to play a lot in 2017 unless the team can find a starting catcher. The Rockies are reportedly interested in Matt Wieters as their new starting catcher which isn’t a bad idea since he provides some more offensive ability than Wolters and Murphy. Either way, the Rockies can’t rely upon Wolters to be their everyday catcher next season and they need a lot of help at the position.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Biggest need: 2nd baseman

The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t have many needs, but they do have a glaring weakness at the 2nd base position with Enrique Hernandez as their projected starter for the 2017 season. That is not good news considering that Hernandez only hit .190 with 7 home runs in 109 games for the Dodgers last season. There aren’t many options available at 2nd base for the Dodgers in free agency, but they should at least add some more depth to the position in order to compete with Hernandez. Los Angeles could always trade for Brian Dozier and fix the problem at 2nd base. However, the Dodgers just need to do something to improve the production out of the 2nd base position.

San Diego Padres – Biggest need: Starting Pitching

San Diego has perhaps the worst starting rotation in all of the MLB heading into next season as their number 1 starter appears to be Christian Friedrich who had a 4.80 ERA in 2016. The Padres have plenty of depth with their starting pitching, but they just don’t have even one starting pitcher that would be a number 3 starter on another team. The free agent starting pitcher market was extremely weak this offseason, yet the Padres should have signed at least one quality starting pitcher. San Diego did sign Jhoulys Chacin, but he won’t do much to make their rotation any better. Overall, the Padres starting rotation is looking terrible for next season unless they make a big move late this offseason which is highly unlikely.

San Francisco Giants – Biggest need: Left Fielder

The San Francisco Giants were in the market for a big time outfielder this offseason. However, they haven’t made any big moves yet and they still are left with a big need for a starting left fielder. Right now Mac Williamson would be the starting left fielder for the Giants and he hasn’t proven much as he is a career .222 hitter with 6 home runs in limited playing time. There are still quality left fielders like Michael Saunders that remain unsigned in free agency, but the Giants just need to do something to find a decent starting left fielder for next season.

Dodgers re-sign Turner to a 4-year deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to retain one of the top free agents this offseason as they re-signed 3rd baseman Justin Turner to a 4-year/$64 million contract. It is difficult to find quality 3rd basemen like Turner these days especially 3rd basemen that can provide quality offense. Turner had a career year for the Dodgers in 2016 as he hit .275 with 27 home runs and 90 RBI’s. It would have been difficult for the Dodgers to replace him as there just weren’t many decent options at the 3rd base position in free agency. Turner has been quite the story in recent years as he has been a backup infielder for most of his career. However, the Dodgers finally gave him an opportunity for some quality playing time in 2014 and since then he has been one of the best 3rd basemen in the MLB. An average salary of $16 million per season is a lot for the Dodgers to pay Turner. However, he is worth every penny especially since it would have been tough for the Dodgers to replace him. Turner could have easily gone elsewhere in free agency since he was by far the best 3rd baseman available, but the Dodgers just wouldn’t let him go. We’ll see if Turner can repeat the type of season that he had in 2016. However, this is a great move for the Dodgers since he makes their lineup much better and they wouldn’t have been nearly productive at 3rd base without him.

Grade: A

justin-turner

Dodgers re-sign Jansen to a 5-year deal

It appeared for awhile that closer Kenley Jansen might leave in free agency, but ultimately he will be returning to Los Angeles as he re-signed with the Dodgers on a 5-year/$80 million contract. Jansen has been one of the most consistent closers in the MLB especially last season when he had a 1.83 ERA and 47 saves for the Dodgers. There is no doubt how much Jansen has meant to the Dodgers as without him their bullpen isn’t nearly as strong. Jansen has been successful with an outstanding cutter pitch that resembles the cutter that future hall-of-fame closer Mariano Rivera had when he was playing. $20 million per year is a big risk for the Dodgers in order to keep Jansen. However, it is rare to find a dominant closer like Jansen and if the Dodgers are to ever go far in the playoffs then they will definitely rely on Jansen. Either way, this is a big move for the Dodgers as they wouldn’t have been able to find another closer to replace Jansen easily. The Dodgers have a very talented roster, but this signing makes them a definite world series contender for at least next season.

Grade: A+

kenley-jansen

Rich Hill re-signs with the Dodgers

Starting Pitcher Rich Hill had his best season as an MLB player in 2016 and on Monday he got rewarded for it by re-signing with the Dodgers on a 3-year/$48 million contract. Hill was by far the best starting pitcher in a really weak starting pitcher market in free agency, so there was no doubt that he would get paid quite a bit. However, the one thing that concerns me about this deal for the Dodgers is that they are giving a 3-year deal to a player that’s about to turn 37 years old before the season. Hill did have an outstanding year in 2016 with the Athletics and Dodgers as he went 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA. His 4.10 career ERA is what is really concerning because in all likelihood he’ll revert back to the mediocre pitcher that he has mostly been. If Hill can be the pitcher that he was last year then he’ll provide one of the best duos in the MLB along with Clayton Kershaw. Hill definitely deserved to be paid this much, although I’m just not sold that he can repeat that type of season again. The Dodgers probably made a mistake by giving him a 3-year deal that will keep him with the team through his age 39 season. The Dodgers should have given him maybe a 1-year deal or a 1-year deal with a club option for 2018 rather than risking an inevitable decline in his production. I like that the Dodgers re-signed him, but shorter deal would have been much less risky especially for a guy that has struggled with injury and consistency issues in his career.

Grade: C

rich-hill

Predicted landing spots for the Top 10 Free Agents

The 2016 free agent class is filled with great closing pitchers, but other than that the free agent market is rather weak especially with starting pitchers. Either way, here are my top 10 free agent rankings and where I predict that they will land this offseason.

  1. Yoenis Cespedes – Outfielder – Former Team: New York Mets

It isn’t a shock that Cespedes opted out of his contract with the Mets considering that he is in line to receive a big long-term contract that is surely going to be worth more than $100 million. Cespedes has tremendous power as evidenced by his 31 home runs last season for the Mets. However, he isn’t the type of player that can carry a team on his shoulders, so he’ll likely land with a contender this offseason. The Yankees could make a strong push for Cespedes since they always want to make a big splash in free agency. However, the Mets will have an awful offense without him and they’ll likely do anything to re-sign him which is why he’ll likely return to the Mets despite the many offers that he’ll receive.

Prediction: Returns to the Mets

2. Edwin Encarnacion – 1st baseman/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Edwin Encarnacion struck out a lot of times last season, but he proved why he is a dangerous hitter as he hit a whopping 42 home runs along with 127 RBI’s. He can play a decent 1st base, but at 34 years old he is most likely to be a full-time designated hitter. I don’t see a return for Encarnacion to Toronto after they just signed Kendrys Morales. However, the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros are all in the mix for a big-time middle of the order bat like Encarnacion. Boston is a team in need of a designated hitter after the retirement of David Ortiz and they have the money to be able to pull a deal for Encarnacion off, so ultimately he will land with the Red Sox on a 2 or 3-year deal.

Prediction: Signs with the Red Sox

3. Justin Turner – 3rd Baseman – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Justin Turner is a really good 3rd baseman that just happens to really benefit from a poor market at the 3rd base position. He has always had a good batting average, but he took his offensive abilities to the next level last season with 27 home runs for the Dodgers. Also, he is an average defensive 3rd baseman, so that adds to his value even more. The Braves, Padres, and Giants are teams that will have interest in Turner. However, the Giants seem like the team that will challenge the Dodgers the most for him. Turner could get around $15-20 million per season and the Dodgers have the money and the desperation in order to re-sign him.

Prediction: Returns to the Dodgers

4. Kenley Jansen – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen is one of the top closers in MLB and yet he is only 29 years old, so he could be in line for a substantial long-term deal this offaseason. He is a hard-thrower and he has a cutter pitch that rivals that of Mariano Rivera. Also, he has had consistent production in recent years including last year when he had a 1.83 ERA and 47 saves for the Dodgers. There are many teams interested in Jansen and the Dodgers would certainly would like him to come back. However, the Cubs have a need for a closer since they don’t seem like they will retain their closer Aroldis Chapman. Chicago could use a consistent closer like Jansen that can pitch multiple innings especially in the postseason.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

5. Aroldis Chapman – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Chapman is extremely difficult to hit at times because of his 100+ MPH fastball that hitters can’t catch up to. He proved valuable for the Cubs in the postseason as he could pitch multiple innings and he handled the workload well. Also, his 1.55 ERA and 36 saves last season was extremely impressive. The Cubs could be interested in a reunion with Chapman this offseason. However, the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, and Nationals all could make a significant push to sign him. Any of those teams could make a case to sign him, but ultimately I believe the Washington Nationals will pull it off. Washington won’t re-sign Jonathon Papelbon after his terrible 2016 season which means the team has a need for a big-time closer like Chapman. Washington seems one piece away from being a world series contender and Chapman could be the guy to finally get them there.

Prediction: Signs with the Nationals

6. Ian Desmond – Shortstop/Outfielder – Former Team: Texas Rangers

Nobody rebuilt their free agent value more than Desmond did this past season as he hit .285 in 22 home runs in his one season with the Rangers. He has played shortstop most of his career, but he was an everyday center fielder for Texas last season. It is his powerful bat that teams desire, yet his position versatility will certainly help him as well. The Indians, Astros, Rangers, Orioles, and Braves all will have interest in Desmond. I could certainly see him returning to the Rangers or even bolting for the Astros or Indians. However, Baltimore seems like the team that could make the strongest push for Desmond. The Orioles don’t necessarily have a need in center field or at shortstop, but Desmond did play some left field last season and the Orioles have a big need at that position. I don’t see Desmond replacing Adam Jones in center field, yet Desmond could be an upgrade at shortstop or in left field for Baltimore.

Prediction: Signs with the Orioles

7. Mark Trumbo – Outfielder/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Baltimore Orioles

Mark Trumbo smacked a whopping 47 home runs last season which majorly improved his free agent value for this offseason. He does bring a lot of offensive ability and he was a starting outfielder last year for the Orioles, but his limited defensive capabilities make him a likely candidate for a full-time designated hitter job. There won’t be too many teams interested in him this offseason as basically only the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Braves are in the mix. The Orioles could try and re-sign him and Trumbo would likely come back, but the question is if Baltimore really wants him back that much. The Blue Jays are certainly a team to watch out for because they like power bats and they have a need at both right field and 1st base. Trumbo could play either of those positions and he would be a good signing for the Blue Jays because he is a solid middle of the lineup hitter.

Prediction: Signs with the Blue Jays

8. Dexter Fowler – Outfielder – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Fowler is a tremendous leadoff hitter because of his tremendous speed and ability and to get on base. He had a solid year with a .276 average and 13 home runs for the Cubs which puts him in line to get paid a pretty good contract. The Cardinals, Rangers, White Sox, and Braves all could have interest in Fowler this offseason. However, I don’t really see him leaving the Cubs. He seems to like playing for Chicago and they won’t be the same team without him leading off their lineup.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

9. Mike Napoli – 1st baseman – Former Team: Cleveland Indians

Mike Napoli really helped his free agent value by proving that he still has tons of power as he hit 34 home runs for the Indians last season. He also is a terrific defensive player which will help give some confidence to teams about signing him. Toronto, Minnesota, and Seattle could have interest in Napoli on a short-term deal. However, Indians manager Terry Francona has a good connection with Napoli and the team will likely have a lot of interest in bringing him back. His offensive consistency is a little bit concerning, but I don’t see much of a scenario where Napoli leaves Cleveland.

10. Mark Melancon – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Washington Nationals

Mark Melancon doesn’t have the power arm that Jansen and Chapman have, but if you look at the stats Melancon has been just as productive as those guys have been in recent years. Melancon had a 1.64 ERA last season and 47 saves with the Pirates and the Nationals and the Dodgers, Nationals, Giants, and Diamondbacks all could have interest in him. The Nationals probably want to sign either Jansen/Chapman since they are younger and they are harder-throwing closers. However, I believe the Giants could make a strong push to sign Melancon. It’s no secret that the Giants bullpen was terrible last season and it’s also no secret that the Giants are going to try to sign either Jansen, Chapman, or Melancon to fill their closer’s role. I can’t really see the Giants spending outbiding the Nationals, Dodgers, and Cubs for Chapman and Jansen, so it appears they’ll be stuck signing Melancon and I’m sure they’re fine with that.

Prediction: Signs with the Giants

yoenis-cespedes

 

Howie Kendrick traded to the Phillies

The Los Angeles Dodgers made an interesting trade on Friday as they traded outfielder/2nd baseman Howie Kendrick to the Philadelphia Phillies for 1st baseman Darin Ruf and center fielder Darnell Sweeney.

Dodgers evaluation:

It became very clear within the past few days that the Dodgers were going to deal Howie Kendrick soon, so certainly this trade didn’t come as much of a surprise. The Dodgers didn’t have a clear starting position for Kendrick which is why it was probably good to trade him since he was reportedly unhappy with his role. The team will certainly miss his versatility to play many positions, but it is relatively easy to find a bargain utility player especially since Kendrick had a $10 million salary next season. I’m not too excited with the players that the Dodgers received in return for Kendrick though. Darin Ruf is a 30-year old 1st baseman that has been a backup for most of his career in Philadelphia with Ryan Howard starting at 1st base for the Phillies. However, Ruf has great power as he has shown with 35 career home runs in just 286 games played. Ruf hasn’t proven that he can play many positions, so it’s unclear the role that he will have with Los Angeles. Adrian Gonzalez is the everyday 1st baseman for the Dodgers, so Ruf will likely be stuck with a bench role as a pinch-hitter who can provide some power with his bat. I think Ruff could be a useful platoon player since he hits left-handed pitching so well, but with Gonzalez at 1st base it seems less likely. Meanwhile, Darnell Sweeney is a really intriguing part of this deal because it will be interesting to see how he is used by Los Angeles. Sweeney actually used to be a Dodgers prospect, yet he was dealt to the Phillies for Chase Utley. Sweeney spent all of last season in Triple-A, but he plays so many positions that it is unclear to see where he fits in at the MLB level. Sweeney is still young, but he needs to figure out how to hit before he can make an impact at the MLB level as he had a poor .233 average in Triple-A last year. He certainly brings some speed and position versatility, but he likely will spend a lot of time in the minor leagues until he can prove that he is ready to face MLB-level pitching. I don’t necessarily blame the Dodgers for getting rid of Kendrick since they didn’t have a clear role for him. However, I don’t think the return that the Dodgers got will really benefit them much at all.

Grade: C-

Phillies evaluation:

This is a really good trade for Philadelphia because they are acquiring a veteran bat with a relatively cheap contract and on top of that he can play multiple positions as well. Kendrick hit .255 with 8 home runs last season with Los Angeles and that was certainly a down year offensively for him, but expect at least his batting average to improve in 2017. Kendrick can hit basically anywhere in the lineup, although he will certainly help the Phillies at the top of the lineup. The Phillies had terrible play in left field last season, so Kendrick is an automatic upgrade at the position even though he hasn’t spent much time playing out there in his career. Kendrick has mostly been a 2nd baseman throughout his career and he is a nice backup at that position if the Phillies need it. Kendrick will also bring veteran leadership to a young Phillies team in the process of a major rebuild. He also is only making $10 million in the final year of his contract which means he is a cheap temporary solution for Philadelphia in left field, yet he is certainly worth it. What makes this trade even better for the Phillies is that they are giving up 2 players that they wouldn’t have a role for next season anyway. Darin Ruf has been a backup 1st baseman in Philadelphia for years and with Tommy Joseph being the new everyday 1st baseman then it didn’t make much sense to keep him as a backup.┬áRuf brought a power bat to the Phillies, yet his lack of position versatility really hurt his value to Philadelphia. Also, Darnell Sweeney probably didn’t have much of a future for the Phillies at the major league level. Sweeney didn’t even reach the MLB level last season as he struggled offensively with only a .233 average and 6 home runs in 118 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies don’t have the patience to develop his offensive abilities and he certainly wasn’t going to get called up to the MLB team anytime soon. Overall, the Phillies are getting a quality veteran player and the best part is that they didn’t have to give up anything useful to get him.

Grade: A

howie-kendrick