Tag: Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers Spring Training 2017 Preview: Predictions, Players to Watch and More

The Los Angeles Dodgers need a second baseman. You know this. They know this. Your great-aunt Meredith who doesn’t follow baseball knows this.

Yet as I type these words, Enrique Hernandez and his .190/.283/.324 2016 slash line sit atop L.A.’s second base depth chart. For a team with the game’s gaudiest payroll and legitimate World Series aspirations, that’s a bad look.

Let’s assume the Dodgers brass is working hard to address the club’s keystone deficiency and examine some other interesting storylines heading into spring training. (Because it’s almost here—hooray!)

Dodgers camp will feature crowded position battles in the outfield and at the back end of the rotation, a hyper-talented Cuban still looking to find his footing and the reigning National League Rookie of the Year ramping up for a potential MVP encore.

Break out your fungo bat and step into the box when ready.

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Predicting Los Angeles Dodgers Depth Charts a Month Ahead of Spring Training

As of this writing, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a glaring hole at second base. Hence the persistent trade rumors surrounding the Minnesota Twins‘ Brian Dozier.

Whether the Dodgers acquire Dozier or someone else, the odds are good they’ll add a middle infielder of note before the start of spring training.

For now, though, let’s run down the existing depth chart and look at some key players waiting in the wings.

In addition to second base, there are question marks at the back end of the rotation and some uncertainty in the outfield. However, this roster looks strong enough to compete for a fifth straight National League West crown and the Dodgers’ first championship in more than a quarter-century.

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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 rumorsor at least informed speculationand 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.

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Does Dodgers’ Expensive Roster Have Enough Firepower to Take Down Cubs?

The Los Angeles Dodgers are going to be good in 2017. For fans of the franchise, this must be at once comforting and beside the point.

The Dodgers being good has been a fact of life for the last four seasons. They’ve averaged 92 wins per year, captured four National League West titles and made two trips to the National League Championship Series. That’s one more than the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos have made in 48 years of existence.

The problem, of course, has been ascending from good to great.

Coming close to the World Series is nice, but you know what they say about coming close only counting in horseshoes and hand grenades. It’s been 28 years since the Dodgers both went to the World Series and won it—a long streak for such a storied franchise.

Not to mention one that’s been keeping its payrolls well north of $200 million since 2013. And the Dodgers recently ensured they’ll be right there again in 2017.

They committed $48 million to left-handed starter Rich Hill at the winter meetings last week. On Monday, they agreed to spend another $80 million on closer Kenley Jansen and $64 million on third baseman Justin Turner. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com calculated that Los Angeles is slated for a $230 million luxury-tax payroll in 2017. And that’s with holes still remaining on its roster.

My initial take on the Dodgers filling three big holes by re-signing Hill, Jansen and Turner was that they secured a spot among the NL’s elite clubs in 2017. I stopped short of putting them on the same level with the Chicago Cubs because, well, the Cubs are really good.

They won 103 games in 2016. They then dispatched the Dodgers in the NLCS en route to their first World Series title in 108 years. Their roster has since taken some hits—but none they can’t recover from. It’s that simple.

Or seemed to be, anyway. After the Jansen and Turner signings, FanGraphs’ projections for MLB‘s top teams in 2017 looked like this:


It’s advised to take these figures with a grain or two of salt. But if we’re going to read into them—and we are—the general idea on display isn’t totally unbelievable.

The Cubs can look to Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber to replace Dexter Fowler’s defense and offense in the aggregate, but his departure left them without a leadoff hitter. Wade Davis is arguably as good of a closer as Aroldis Chapman, but he’s not markedly better.

Elsewhere in the bullpen, the addition of Koji Uehara may be offset by the loss of Travis Wood. The Cubs have added Brian Duensing to fill his shoes, but he likely won’t match Wood’s extreme lefty-slaying ability. Based on his track record, Mike Montgomery, who is stepping into Jason Hammel’s rotation spot, provides no real gain and another loss for the bullpen.

While the Cubs have made seemingly no improvements, the Dodgers have made at least one big one.

Their starting rotation wasn’t an abomination in 2016, but it was a source of consternation for much of the year. Kenta Maeda was the one guy who stayed healthy and consistent. Clayton Kershaw was brilliant when he pitched, but a back injury limited him to 21 starts. Hill was excellent after he came over from the Oakland A’s in a deadline trade, but he made only six starts. Elsewhere, it was a revolving door of starters who had varying degrees of success.

It should be a different story in 2017. If nothing else, the Dodgers can rest easy knowing their ace is OK.

“I had an injury, and it’s not injured anymore, so now you keep going,” Kershaw told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com last week.

If Kershaw is his usual self and Hill makes at least 20 starts, the Dodgers will have one of the best one-two punches in the majors for most of 2017. After that, they’ll have Maeda’s reliability and healthy versions of Scott Kazmir, Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy. They also have quite the wild card in Julio Urias, who quietly excelled in 2016 after taking a minute to find his footing in the majors.

As such, there could be something to the early projection that the Dodgers will have the best starting pitching in the league in 2017. The club’s lineup and bullpen, meanwhile, should be no worse than they were in 2016.

The former only has a hole at second base, where Chase Utley left a relatively low bar to clear. And by retaining Jansen, Los Angeles ensured games will continue to flow to one of the sport’s best relief pitchers.

The CliffsNotes version: The 2017 Dodgers will be a lot like the 2016 Dodgers, except without the starting pitching woes. That plus the non-upgrades in Chicago could close the talent gap between the two teams.

At least on paper, anyway. But while that may not mean much for the regular season, a potential postseason matchup is a different story.

The power of the postseason is its ability to magnify everything, including all the little details of each team’s roster. That tends to turn things that are mere nitpicks in the regular season into fatal flaws in October.

Which takes us back to the Dodgers’ loss to the Cubs in the NLCS.

One of the flaws Chicago exploited was Los Angeles’ lack of quality bullpen depth underneath Jansen. It had been good enough to that point, but the Cubs revealed the middle-relief parade of Joe Blanton, Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling and others to be about as unspectacular as you’d expect a parade of those names to be. They surrendered 18 runs in nine innings of work.

With only Vidal Nuno joining the mix this winter, this issue still needs solving. The free-agent market still has solid options (Greg Holland, Brad Ziegler, Sergio Romo, Joe Smith) who could help.

The bigger issue in need of attention, though, is the Dodgers’ weakness against left-handed pitching.

It was punctuated by an MLB-low OPS against southpaws in the regular season, and it bit them again in the NLCS. The Dodgers offense was undone by its lack of power, and Baseball Savant shows the problem was worse against Chicago’s lefties (.277 SLG%) than its righties (.320 SLG%).

The Dodgers have added Darin Ruf and his .921 career OPS against lefties, but that’s only one part-time bat in a sea of mostly left-handed hitters. Their payroll may be too overextended for a run at any of the free-agent options who could help, but the trade market includes some affordable alternatives: Brian Dozier and Ryan Braun, for example.

If the Dodgers want to leave good enough alone, they’ll enter 2017 with a team that should deliver another 90-plus win season and NL West title. But if the idea is to win the World Series, they need a team that can get through the Cubs.

For that, just a little bit more is required.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. Salary and contract data courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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Dodgers Remain Among NL Elite by Re-Signing Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner

Nearly $200 million and exactly three familiar faces later, the Los Angeles Dodgers have retained a roster worthy of the top of the National League power structure.

The first $48 million went into a three-year contract for lefty starter Rich Hill, who continued his late-career revival with a 1.83 ERA in six starts for the Dodgers in the home stretch of 2016. On Monday, Los Angeles committed another $144 million to relief ace Kenley Jansen and third baseman Justin Turner.

As Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM confirmed, Jansen’s deal is for five years and $80 million:

According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, the reliever’s pact also includes an opt-out after 2019.

Confirmation on Turner’s contract is stuck in the pipeline for the moment. But Joel Sherman of the New York Post teased it will be for four years and $64 million. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com is hearing the same:

The Dodgers aren’t finished with their offseason checklist. They still need an everyday second baseman. After Josh Reddick’s departure, they could also use corner outfield depth.

For now, though, the Dodgers deserve a tip of the ol’ cap for focusing their offseason maneuvers on the right places and the right players.

Given that he’s a 36-year-old who only twice has gone over 100 innings, Hill comes with durability questions. But talent that’s produced a 2.00 ERA in 24 starts since 2015 made him the most desirable starter on the open market and a good fit for a Dodgers rotation that had depth but needed a proper partner in crime for Clayton Kershaw.

For a player like that, $16 million per year isn’t too much. It certainly sounds better than $16 million per year for a relief pitcher, anyway.

Of course, it’s not the Dodgers’ fault they had to back up a truck filled with that much money for Jansen. Mark Melancon set the market for elite relief pitching when the San Francisco Giants signed him for $62 million over four years. Aroldis Chapman further drove the point home when he accepted five years and $86 million from the New York Yankees.

Simply going with the flow of supply and demand is out of character for a Dodgers front office that favors being analytical and, above all, rational. But, you know what they say about that.

“If you’re always rational about every free agent, you will finish third on every free agent,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times.

It’s also not like the Dodgers are spending big on a bad reliever. Jansen has dominated since the start of his major league career back in 2010. He’s taken it to a whole ‘nother level since sharpening his control in 2013, compiling a 2.19 ERA and 7.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last 268 appearances.

Through the lens of FanGraphs WAR, here are the top two relievers in baseball since 2013:

  1. Aroldis Chapman: 9.7
  2. Kenley Jansen: 9.4

See that difference? That doesn’t look like a $6 million difference to me.

The concern is that Jansen, now 29, will lose zip as he ages. But that’s a smaller concern with him than it is with other relievers. He averaged 93.6 mph on his cutter in 2016 but has been successful even with an average as low as 91.9 mph in 2012.

For Jansen, it’s not about velocity. It’s about movement. Like so:

That movement should ensure Jansen ages just fine. You know, sort of like another reliever who had a world-class cutter even after he was past his peak velocity.

It doesn’t take as many words to justify Turner’s contract. Although his $64 million is nearly $50 million less than the $110 million Yoenis Cespedes got from the New York Mets, it’s going toward arguably the best free agent the market had to offer.

That was Corinne Landrey‘s argument at MLB.com. And mine right here, for that matter. Over the last three seasons, Turner has posted an .856 OPS with 50 home runs while also rating as a strong defender at the hot corner.

Cue Dave Cameron‘s summary at FanGraphs:

Turner is not that much worse of a hitter than Edwin Encarnacion, only he can also play the field. The power isn’t the same, and teams continue to pay less for singles and doubles than home runs, but Turner gets to a similar overall value, and when you toss in the ability to play third base, 4/$64M in this market seems like a steal.

Although he’s already 32 years old, what sets Turner apart from other veteran free agents is how well-preserved he is. He didn’t become an everyday player until the Dodgers picked him up in 2014, which can only help him age gracefully.

With Hill, Jansen and Turner returning to the fold, the 2017 Dodgers will look a lot like the 2016 Dodgers. At worst, that could mean a repeat of a campaign that brought L.A. 91 wins and a fourth straight NL West title.

It’s likelier that even better things are in store.

The Dodgers can expect a lot more from not only Hill but Kershaw as well after a back injury limited him to 21 starts in 2016. They’ll also have healthy versions of Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir and Alex Wood. The young arms of Julio Urias and Jose De Leon contain all sorts of upside.

The Dodgers thus figure to have more than enough pitching to back up an offense anchored by capable veterans (Turner, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal) and explosive young guns (Corey Seager and Joc Pederson).

And since they’ve only used money to flesh out their roster to this point, the Dodgers can now use their farm system to solve their second base conundrum. Brian Dozier and Ian Kinsler are among the available trade options, per Rosenthal. The former fits the Dodgers like a glove.

Even as is, the signings of Hill, Jansen and Turner ensure the Dodgers have enough firepower to remain among the NL’s elite clubs in 2017. The reigning champion Chicago Cubs loom as the team to beat, but the Dodgers are right there with the Giants and Washington Nationals among the clubs that could bring them down.

Which is to say, the $192 million they’ve spent to bring back their guys is going toward a good cause.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Kenley Jansen Re-Signs with Dodgers: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Relief pitcher Kenley Jansen reportedly re-signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Bowden reported the contract is for five years and worth $80 million. Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports later reported Jansen chose the Dodgers over better offers from other clubs and has an opt-out clause after three years. The deal does not include a no-trade clause, per Rosenthal

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the Washington Nationals were willing to pay as much as $5 million more than the Dodgers.

Jansen, 29, was excellent for the Dodgers in 2016, compiling 47 saves in 53 opportunities to go along with 104 strikeouts, a 1.83 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in 68.2 innings pitched. It was his fifth straight season with 25 or more saves and his third straight season with at least 35 saves.

He’s established himself as one of baseball’s better closers, ensuring a big payday was coming this winter. But he hinted at a desire to stay before the 2016 season concluded.

“L.A.’s nice. L.A.’s great. L.A. gave me the opportunity. L.A. converted me when I failed as a catcher,” Jansen told Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball in September. “I’m grateful about it and will never forget L.A. But at the same time, we’ll have to see what’s good for the family.”

Ultimately, Jansen decided remaining in Los Angeles was the right move—and the Dodgers benefited.

Jansen will once again solidify the ninth inning for the team, meaning the Dodgers should again have an excellent pitching staff. If he can replicate his phenomenal form from the 2016 season, the Dodgers will have secured one of the best signings of free agency and should be a postseason contender again in 2017.


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Rich Hill Re-Signs with Dodgers: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

The Los Angeles Dodgers were so enamored with Rich Hill after acquiring him in August that they have decided to keep him around with a new contract extension, announcing Monday that they had signed him to a three-year contract.

Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reported the deal is worth $48 million.  

While Hill is always a significant injury risk, there’s no denying his performance on the mound when he’s able to take the ball. 

Hill showed his capability for dominating a terrific lineup when he shut down the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. He gave up two hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings in a 6-0 win. 

When Hill is at the top of his game, even at 36 years old, there is a strong argument to be made that he’s one of the best left-handed starters in baseball. The Dodgers already have the best one (Clayton Kershaw), so keeping Hill makes perfect sense. 

The problem is Hill has never shown himself to be capable of staying healthy. He made only 20 starts in 2016 for the Dodgers and Oakland Athletics. He was traded to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, but didn’t debut for the team until Aug. 24 due to lingering blister problems. 

On Monday, Hill told reporters that his blister problems are behind him.

Since making his MLB debut in 2005 with the Cubs, Hill made 30 starts just one time and was relegated to bullpen duty from 2010-14 because it was seemingly impossible to keep him on the mound. 

Despite those injury concerns, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors did note there is recent precedent for injury-prone pitchers to get multiyear deals in free agency:

If demand is strong enough for Hill’s services, teams will simply have to make three-year offers to have a chance to sign him, even if they don’t expect the contract to end well. Hill can also make the argument that he will age well, since he’s not reliant on fastball velocity and has less mileage on his arm than a typical pitcher his age.

It also helped Hill’s free-agent case that this year’s crop of available starting pitchers is bad, to put it nicely.

The Dodgers have been burned by recent deals for free-agent pitchers like Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy, but Hill brings with him a level of domination difficult to replace. He can also serve as a bridge for Julio Urias when the 20-year-old is ready and allowed by the team to take on the task of throwing 200 innings in a season.

Given the way Hill is still able to put up gaudy strikeout numbers without allowing much hard contact and keeps the ball in the park, it’s not a surprise that the Dodgers brought him on board to boost the rotation knowing he probably won’t pitch more than 120 innings during any season of his contract. 

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Brandon McCarthy Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Dodgers Pitcher

The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to make a splash on the open market during the offseason, and Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine reported that they are shopping right-handed pitcher Brandon McCarthy in an effort to create additional space on the 40-man roster. 

Continue for updates.

Trading McCarthy Could Clear Room for Hill

Sunday, Dec. 4

Olney noted Los Angeles’ 40-man roster sits at 39, which means the team would have to free some space in order to sign free-agent pitcher Rich Hill and other players. Trading McCarthy would help it do just that.

This comes after Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register said the Dodgers and Hill were “closing in on [a] multi-year deal,” which could increase the urgency to trade McCarthy or Scott Kazmir, who Olney also noted was being shopped.

It is not surprising Los Angeles is looking to bring back Hill after he posted a 1.83 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in six starts for the team down the stretch. He also anchored the rotation in the playoffs alongside Clayton Kershaw and finished with a 3.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in three starts.

It makes sense to trade McCarthy to ensure there’s enough space to re-sign Hill, but Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors said moving the righty would be about more than just the roster space. Polishuk said only Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias are locks to be in Los Angeles’ rotation in 2017 and that trading McCarthy may force the team to look within at options such as Alex Wood and Jose De Leon.

From other teams’ perspectives, trading for McCarthy would come with some red flags.

McCarthy—who has pitched for the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees and Dodgers since entering the league in 2005—made just four starts in 2015 and 10 in 2016 because of Tommy John surgery. He finished the 2016 campaign with an unspectacular 4.95 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 40 innings.

He has just two seasons with a sub-4.00 ERA in his entire career, and they came in back-to-back efforts in 2011 and 2012 with Oakland. McCarthy will also turn 34 years old during the 2017 season and is likely well past his prime.

It is difficult to envision there will be significant interest in McCarthy from teams unless they see him as a reclamation project who is available as a trade chip for relatively cheap.

Polishuk did say the starting pitcher market is thin in terms of free agency this offseason, so teams desperate for depth could look his way. He did combine for 196 strikeouts in 280.2 innings in 2011 and 2012 with 3.32 and 3.24 ERAs respectively, but that was before the surgery that has limited him in the second half of his career.

There is plenty of risk involved with acquiring McCarthy, which could force Los Angeles to lower any asking price to accelerate a trade.

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Scott Kazmir Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Dodgers Pitcher

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a crowded roster heading into the meat of their offseason and are reportedly shopping left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir to create additional space, per Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine.

Continue for updates.

Trading Kazmir Would Help Dodgers Add Hill

Sunday, Dec. 4

Olney noted Los Angeles couldn’t sign free agent Rich Hill and other players with a 40-man roster already at 39 without making some moves, such as trading Kazmir.

Los Angeles eventually signing Hill appears to be approaching as reality, as Bill Plunkettof the Orange County Register said the two sides were “closing in on [a] multiyear deal.”

Clayton Kershaw served as the anchor for the Dodgers rotation in 2016, but Hill was a major reason they reached the National League Championship Series and took the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs to six games.

The southpaw made six starts for the team down the stretch after beginning the season on the Oakland Athletics and posted a 1.83 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in 34.1 innings. He also finished with a solid 3.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in three playoff starts.

If trading Kazmir will help Los Angeles bring that type of production back, it is probably worth it.

However, Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors said moving Kazmir would be about more than just clearing roster space since it would directly impact the team’s rotation plans with Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias as the only surefire options at this point.

Polishuk pointed to candidates such as Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Jose De Leon who could emerge in the race for spots, especially since Olney noted the Dodgers were also shopping Brandon McCarthy.

Kazmir comes with some risks, since he will be 33 years old throughout the entirety of the 2017 campaign. He also dealt with thoracic spine inflammation in 2016 in his first year with the Dodgers and pitched just one inning after Aug. 22.

The journeyman has played for the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics and Dodgers throughout his career and finished the 2016 campaign with a 4.56 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 134 strikeouts in 136.1 innings. The recent numbers don’t exactly turn heads, but he is a three-time All-Star (2006, 2008 and 2014) with six seasons of a sub-4.00 ERA on his resume.

The injury problems are a concern considering he made a mere one start in 2011 and didn’t pitch in 2012, but he did tally 26 or more starts in each of the last four seasons.

He is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor who could attract teams looking for starting pitching depth on the trade market instead of through free agency.

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Brian Dozier Would Be Perfect Fit in Rebuilding Dodgers’ Flawed Offense

The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t get in on what was possibly the best season ever for second basemen in 2016. Chase Utley and others didn’t provide much hitting, baserunning or defense.

Sounds like a good excuse to target a guy who can give them all three, and the first one especially: Brian Dozier.

In this context, his name may stand out most because he’s not Ian Kinsler. The Detroit Tigers‘ veteran second baseman is the one the Dodgers have been most often linked to on the hot-stove rumor mill. 

But as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported, the Dodgers also have Dozier on their radar. And, shoot, why wouldn’t they?

The Minnesota Twins‘ 29-year-old All-Star is coming off a career year that featured an .886 OPS, 42 home runs and 18 stolen bases. With his contract running out and the Twins in need of more young building blocks, even Dozier wasn’t blindsided when he was asked about a possible trade in September.

“Oh, really?” he told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, apparently with his tongue firmly in his cheek. “I don’t read too much into that. All I can know is I’m here for two more years.”

From the sound of things, a deal between the Twins and Dodgers is nowhere close to being done. Here’s Berardino with a recent report:

There’s no indication the Dodgers are close to a deal for Kinsler, either. We’ve already discussed how his talent and the $21 million remaining on his contract make for a high price tag. And since the Dodgers are on his no-trade list, he’ll only accept a deal if additional money is involved.

Dozier doesn’t have no-trade protection, but that doesn’t necessarily make him easier to acquire.

With plenty of talent of his own and only $15 million remaining on his contract, the Dodgers would likely have to surrender at least one of their blue-chip prospects for Dozier—say, Cody Bellinger, Jose De Leon, Alex Verdugo or Grant Holmes.

However, it’s not like the Dodgers can find a stand-in for Kinsler or Dozier on the open market. The second base aisle is barren. And if they’re going to trade for one of them, Dozier’s the one they should be leaning toward.

Nothing against Kinsler. He’s been a great player his whole career and hasn’t slowed down as he’s advanced into his 30s. The 34-year-old has produced 17.8 wins above replacement since 2013, second only to Jose Altuve among second basemen. He finally won an overdue Gold Glove in 2016.

But on that last point, defense is the one thing Kinsler has done better than Dozier over the last three seasons:

Nothing against defense, either, but it’s not one of the Dodgers’ major needs. They finished tied for fourth in defensive efficiency in 2016, according to Baseball Prospectus. This despite the fact the advanced metrics rated Utley as a mediocre defender at second base.

Where second base really failed the Dodgers is at the plate, producing just a .723 OPS and 18 homers. Kinsler and Dozier both have the bats to fix that, but the extra appeal in Dozier’s bat is hard to miss.

The 42 homers he slugged in 2016 are 10 more than Kinsler’s ever hit in a season. They also kept alive a trend of Dozier’s home run total increasing in each of his five major league seasons. He started with a humble six in 2012 and has gone to 18 to 23 to 28 to 42.

It’s all in Dozier’s approach. His consistently above-average walk rates reflect his strong plate discipline, and his swing is made to get the ball in the air to his pull side. His ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio has settled well below 1.0, and nobody has pulled the ball as frequently as he has since 2014.

As Dozier’s career .246 average can vouch, his approach isn’t good for hitting for average. But with a solid .320 career on-base percentage to go with all his power, he rightfully doesn’t care about that.

“I can look at my average and see I’m hitting .250-something,” he told David Laurila of FanGraphs in August, “but if I can get on base at a .350 clip, versus a guy who’s hitting .300 and getting on base .330….300 doesn’t matter. If you can find ways to get on base and create runs, you’re being productive. In my opinion, that’s how you evaluate a player.”

The one thing Dozier doesn’t have is booming raw power, which does loom as a red flag regarding a potential move from Target Field to Dodger Stadium.

But courtesy of Baseball Savant, we see that most of the home runs he’s hit in his career would have cleared Dodger Stadium’s dimensions just fine:

Dozier’s other appeal is that he’s a right-handed batter who crushes left-handed pitching. He owns an .854 career OPS against southpaws and just peaked with a .965 OPS against them in 2016.

A hitter like that is something the Dodgers sorely need after posting an MLB-worst .622 OPS against lefties in 2016. And given that their second basemen posted just a .586 OPS against lefties, second base is an ideal place to slot an upgrade.

After all this, Dozier’s other qualities come off as welcome bonuses.

He’s an excellent baserunner, stealing his 74 career bases in 99 tries with plenty of extra value on the side. Since 2014, only seven players have accumulated more total baserunning value than Dozier.

And while Dozier’s not on Kinsler’s level defensively, he’s no slouch. The metrics have been largely positive on his defense. If nothing else, the Inside Edge data shows he’s money at making routine plays.

The Dodgers have the right idea in having Kinsler and Dozier on their radar as fixes for what ails them at second base. They’re two of the game’s best second basemen.

But since their prices are probably equal and the Dodgers need offense more than defense, Dozier’s the one for them. Lucky for them, they still have plenty of time to strike a deal.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. Payroll and contract information courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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