Yahoo: The 2018 Dodgers...?

By: coachemup!



The 2017 Dodgers won the National League flag. That's a huge deal, people. Major.

 

This year's club came within one game -- and one outing from one pitcher -- of World Series glory. That ain't nothing, folks, and whether you can come to terms with it at this moment or not, the season should be seen a success. To go 29 years without a Fall Classic in Los Angeles and then to suddenly experience one; well, that's what success looks like.

 

The Astros were the best team in the American League all year long and traded for a starter to help them win in October. L.A. was the class of the NL all year long and traded for a starter who couldn't. And therein lies the difference between winning it all and finishing second best.

 

But if you're looking for a full-on postmortem, you'll have to look elsewhere. Because we're already three days into what will be the shortest offseason in Dodgers' history, and I'm looking forward. To 2018.

 

Starting pitching: After using a record-setting 15 starters in 2016, the Dodgers used a much-more-normal 10 in 2017. That's progress.

 

The problem remains, however, that in Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, L.A. has five guys who have been on the disabled list in back-to-back seasons (more in some cases). And don't even get me started on Scott Kazmir.

 

We heard the word "depth" practically every day going back to Spring Training and we're going to hear it throughout the winter and into spring a second time. While the club can sit on its hands and do well with this group in 2018, it won't.

 

This year's club came within one game -- and one outing from one pitcher -- of World Series glory. That ain't nothing, folks, and whether you can come to terms with it at this moment or not, the season should be seen a success. To go 29 years without a Fall Classic in Los Angeles and then to suddenly experience one; well, that's what success looks like.

The Astros were the best team in the American League all year long and traded for a starter to help them win in October. L.A. was the class of the NL all year long and traded for a starter who couldn't. And therein lies the difference between winning it all and finishing second best.

 But if you're looking for a full-on postmortem, you'll have to look elsewhere. Because we're already three days into what will be the shortest offseason in Dodgers' history, and I'm looking forward. To 2018.

Starting pitching: After using a record-setting 15 starters in 2016, the Dodgers used a much-more-normal 10 in 2017. That's progress.

The problem remains, however, that in Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, L.A. has five guys who have been on the disabled list in back-to-back seasons (more in some cases). And don't even get me started on Scott Kazmir.

We heard the word "depth" practically every day going back to Spring Training and we're going to hear it throughout the winter and into spring a second time. While the club can sit on its hands and do well with this group in 2018, it won't.

2. Sign a big-ticket free agent. The ever-handy MLBTR estimates contracts of $160 million and $100 mil for Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, respectively, and there is no reason for Los Angeles to consider that kind of deal for a nanosecond.

 

Next on the list is Lance Lynn, with a $56 million price tag. If the Dodgers don't go the trade route, the soon-to-be-former Cardinal is a nice option. He's not an ace, but you can pencil him for a solid 200 innings and feel very good about what you're going to get, especially in a pitcher's park.

 

Or maybe the Dodgers just say "screw it," throw caution to the wind and sign Brett Anderson to a multi-year deal for millions. I kid.

 

3. Sign Shohei Otani. Bats left, throw right, and does both quite well. Otani is a two-way player who may or may not be coming from Japan this winter, depending on how Major League Baseball, the player's union and the Nippon Ham Fighters work out the particulars.

 

If he comes to America, Los Angeles is as likely a destination as any. More likely, actually. And my guess is, the Dodgers have him concentrate almost entirely on pitching, and slip him right into the rotation between Kershaw and Hill. Or if they're really fortunate, between Hill and Wood/Ryu, with Archer behind Kershaw.

 

Bullpen: Kenley Jansen isn't just a great closer, he's a great Dodger. And an anchor to what should be fine bullpen in 2018. MLBTR has Brandon Morrow going to Colorado for three years and $24 million. I doubt that, and am confident of a return to L.A., for somewhere in the neighborhood of two years at $18 million.

 

While it may be dicey because his contract is based on incentives earned via starting pitcher statistics, a full-time switch to the pen for Kenta Maeda is likely already being discussed. Tony Cingrani and the under-appreciated Luis Avilan should handle the left-handed chores, with Ross Stripling, Josh Fields, and yes, Pedro Baez returning as well.

 

With Brock Stewart and Walker Buehler in the mix and some up-and-comers from Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the Dodgers have a surplus of relievers from which to choose. Which means a deal from strength is a distinct possibility, as are under-the-radar free agent and minor-league deal candidates, who could surface at almost any time. Whatever you do, don't sweat a drop about the pen.

 

Infield: Sweat about Corey Seager's elbow instead. If the All-Star shortstop needs Tommy John surgery, that's the story of the offseason, and an ugly one at that. If his pain can be cured through arthroscopy or other less invasive means, that's uh, better.

 

Cody Bellinger at first base, Justin Turner at third and Adrian Gonzalez moved in any way possible or released at the club's convenience.

 

Logan Forsythe had a rough year, was successful as always against left-handers and played well in October. With an $8.5 million option and a $1 million buyout, the Dodgers can take their chances at a rebound season in his walk year and not lose a minute of sleep over second base. Or they can revive talks with the Twins about a trade for Brian Dozier, who will also be playing for free agency in 2018.

 

I like Forsythe just fine, but Dozier is the better player. He's twice the player by at least one measure (1.8 WAR in 2017, 12.5 lifetime for Forsythe; 4.4 and 22.9 for Dozier). Yes, he'd be a one-year rental, but that figures into the cost in chips heading to Minnesota.

 

Look for Chase Utley to sign a one-day contract to retire as a Phillie or take an instructor slash front office special assistant position to stick in L.A. Or both.

 

Outfield: If Seager can play shortstop, Taylor is set to leadoff in center field from start to finish. Yasiel Puig should return to play right, with left being manned by some combination of Kiké Hernandez, Andrew Toles and Joc Pederson, if the Dodgers don't sell high on Joc. And they just might.

 

If L.A. can bring Utley back for $7 million at 37-years-old, as they did in 2016, they can bring Ethier back for  one more go round at 36 in 2018. I'd put the odds at less than 50/50, but you never know.

 

Catchers: Management seemed to sour on Yasmani Grandal late in the season, as evidenced by his 11 plate appearances in the postseason (Austin Barnes had 52). But pitch framing specialists with lifetime 162-game averages of 25 home runs, 75 RBIs and .240/.339/.435 lines don't grow on palm trees, so there is no great need to make a change behind the plate.

 

 

Epilogue: A Yankee fan friend of mine emailed with this today: "In what stage of grief do you find yourself today? Denial? Anger? Acceptance?" I replied in an instant with this: "Acceptance!"

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