The Major League Baseball World Series is currently going on, but unfortunately for the Los Angeles Dodgers and their fanbase and front office, the focus has already shifted to the offseason. Which Dodgers free agents can the team retain, and what outside names can they recruit?
After a historic 111-win season, the Dodgers were bounced by the San Diego Padres in the NLDS in just four games. As historic as their regular season was, the postseason collapse was just as historic for L.A.
Now that some time has gone by and the dust has settled though, the offseason rumors are starting to pick up as the Dodgers have already been linked to a number of big-name free agents such as their own Trea Turner, Aaron Judge and even Carlos Correa.
As things currently stand, the Dodgers have around $160 million on their payroll counting minimum and projected arbitration salaries. That means they will have around $70 million to spend if they want to stay below the luxury tax threshold to reset it, and perhaps even more if they don’t care about that.
The Dodgers have a ton of needs to address with pitching perhaps at the top of the list. Of the big-name position players on the market though, let’s break down which could make the most sense for L.A.
Dodgers free agents you know
In my opinion, retaining Turner, who has been outstanding since being acquired by the Dodgers in 2021, makes a lot of sense.
Yes, he is going to make a lot of money. But as previously laid out, L.A. has a lot of money to spend and Turner is a 29-year-old shortstop coming off a 6.8 WAR season in 2021 and 6.3 WAR in 2022. He is a phenomenal combination of power, average and speed with the only knock on him being his defense.
If the Dodgers do not sign Turner, then they currently do not have any set options at shortstop in place in the organization. Chris Taylor can play there some, as can Gavin Lux in a pinch, but neither are everyday shortstops and the same can be said for all of the Dodgers’ prospects that are close to reaching the majors.
So all that to say that the Dodgers will add a shortstop this winter and Turner is the best one available.
Other Shortstop Options
If the Dodgers choose not to sign Turner and he gets a monster deal from another organization, then who are some other available shortstops on the free agent market Andrew Friedman can pivot to?
The good thing here is that much like last offseason, there are a few of good shortstops in this free-agent class.
Among them are Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson and Xander Bogaerts. All three are very quality options.
Correa is probably the best player of the bunch when taking into account both offense and defense. He is coming off a 4.4 WAR season in 136 games although his best season was in 2021 when he put up 6.2 WAR.
The only problem here is that the Dodgers fanbase HATES Correa because of his cheating scandal with the 2017 Houston Astros and how poorly he handled things in the aftermath.
So to me, Correa is a non-starter for the Dodgers in free agency. As great of a player as he is, it’s not worth the headache when there are so many other quality options available.
Both Swanson (6.4 WAR) and Bogaerts (6.1 WAR) had 2022 seasons that were on par with Turner and would help fix the Dodgers’ shortstop problem. Swanson just won a Gold Glove so would bring elite defense to the table along with a quality bat. Bogaerts may not stick at the position long-term but at 30 years old could give the Dodgers at least two more seasons at shortstop before likely moving to third or second base.
Swing for the fences?
To close this out, let’s look at the possibility of the Dodgers signing the biggest fish on the free agent market: Aaron Judge.
I know I don’t need to shout out the statistics but I am going to anyways just because of how ridiculous they are. In 2022, Judge had a slashline of .311/.425/.686 with 62 home runs, 133 runs, 131 RBI and an 11.4 WAR. Not to mention he played solid defense with more than half of his games coming in center field.
Judge is currently the best player in MLB and the Dodgers can have him without giving up anything other than a fat check. Perhaps nine years and around $350 million? If anyone can afford to do this, it’s the Dodgers.
No, he doesn’t play shortstop so that issue would have to be addressed elsewhere for much cheaper.
But as things currently stand, the Dodgers also do not have set starters in both left and center field that Judge could easily occupy (no, Mookie Betts is not moving out of right field to play second base).
This would be the ultimate home run swing for the Dodgers, giving them a top three in their lineup of Betts, Freddie Freeman and Judge for at least the next FIVE years.
If you can’t win at least one World Series with that then just go home.
Still, Judge is the best of the bunch. After him, it would be Turner, Swanson, Bogaerts and Correa in that order.
Regardless of how things play out, it should be a very interesting offseason for the Dodgers and I can’t wait to see how Friedman handles it.