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The Los Angeles Dodgers finished the 2017 season one win away from a championship. After a relatively quiet offseason they entered 2018 as the favorites to get back to the World Series. Now they are more likely to miss the playoffs than make it to the World Series. What can they do? What should they do?
LA’s lineup is nowhere near the caliber of a playoff team: 3B Justin Turner has been a cornerstone player for years, batting third in their lineup and being a clubhouse leader… He’s yet to play this season, and is looking to return from a fracture in his left wrist. Worse, this injury means that his power is very likely to decline. He’s also 33 now and 34 in November and has spent considerable time on the DL the last few years. Can they still count on him as an integral part of their lineup?
1B Cody Bellinger seems to be going through a “sophomore slump”, or maybe he was having a fluke year last season? He had a .315 ISO last year, but this year it’s a significantly lower .184. His Hardhit % dropped from 43% to 35.8% and he reversed his GB% and FB% to where he went from hitting more fly balls than grounders last year, to hitting more grounders than fly balls this year. SS Corey Seager was having a down year before suffering a season-ending injury, RF Yasiel Puig is having the worst year of his already inconsistent career, and the problems don’t end there… CF Chris Taylor is so far proving that last season was indeed a BABIP influenced fluke and that he’s better off as a utility bench player. In the meantime second base is a hole and their suddenly over .300 hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal is a free agent after the season.
Their ace Clayton Kershaw seems to no longer be durable and also seems to be in decline. Will they still give him a record contract after he likely opts out of his contract after the season? Another starter Rich Hill can’t stay healthy or produce anymore and is already in his late thirties. Alex Wood’s Cy Young caliber first half of 2017 appears to be a fluke (though his FIP is still good), and the actually productive Hyun-Jin Ryu is already out with his own injury until the second half of the season.
What should they do? They really have two options: 1. Try to salvage this season and 2. Rebuild. They will almost certainly pursue the former and not the latter. They will look for bullpen upgrades and potentially another arm for the rotation (though they almost certainly won’t be acquiring an ace as there are really none available). I fully expect their lineup however to be their top priority.
They specifically need help at second base, shortstop, center field and right field. Any of these positions (except for right field) can be filled by Chris Taylor despite his shortcomings. It’s also possible that Alex Verdugo can end up sticking in center field or right field. The obvious target at shortstop is Manny Machado. He will however almost certainly cost a lot to acquire. Baltimore’s asking price will likely be high and he might cost Verdugo or Walker Buehler. Other potential targets that will cost less include Starlin Castro from Miami, Jurickson Profar from Texas, Freddy Galvis from San Diego, Adeiny Hechavarria from Tampa Bay and Jed Lowrie and Marcus Semien from Oakland (if they’re out of playoff contention). As you can see Machado is by far the best option.
There are better options if they pursue a second baseman: the same players from above minus Machado plus Cesar Hernandez from Philadelphia (if they fall out of contention), Brian Dozier from Minnesota (if they continue playing poorly), and Josh Harrison from Pittsburgh. It would be quite an accomplishment if they could acquire both Dozier and Machado. It would also most likely cost them both Verdugo and Buehler along with likely others.
Their best options for the outfield are: Khris Davis from Oakland, Nicholas Castellanos from Detroit and Adam Jones from Baltimore. How many of these players will they actually acquire? Will this save their season?
I have a more negative view of the situation: I think that their window of contention is closing. I wouldn’t acquire Machado as they need much more than him to pass Arizona and Colorado, and I don’t like the idea of trading elite prospects for rentals. Could the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series without giving up Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman? I think so.
If they’re leading the division or one of the wildcard spots (or at least not too far behind), I would ideally acquire Cesar Hernandez and Semien. Hernandez would be a better leadoff man than Taylor and Semien would help out for a potentially bargain price. This also solves their middle infield dilemma.
What if they’re 4 or more games out of a playoff spot? I would shop Kershaw. WHAT?! I would shop Kershaw. How many people reading this think that giving him a massive contract is a good idea? How many think that he WOULDN’T get them a nice haul? Remember what I said about their being no ace available by trade? This affects other teams too and this is where Kershaw comes in. Can they get Jack Flaherty and Harrison Bader from St. Louis? What about Derek Fisher and Forrest Whitley from Houston? I would also shop Taylor, Grandal, Ryu, Puig and Kenley Jansen. How long would the rebuild take with Bellinger, Seager and all of the prospects? Isn’t it time to admit that this core isn’t going to win the World Series?
What do you think that they should do? Let me know in the comments!
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I still don’t think that they make the playoffs but like I said in the previous article they do have a chance.
Move Kershaw is the right move to start with.contact Cincinnati to see about a reliever named Iglesias and gennett.wait tell off season and see about machado.
That’s a very good idea and I’m glad that you agree with me on Kershaw.
Some of this is a complete over reaction. I don’t think they should Go For It or Rebuild. Somewhere in the middle is probably right. But either way, they should be prepared to miss the playoffs, but hope they are wrong (and can turn it around).
Where do I start???……Not sure so I’ll just blurt some stuff out randomly
They don’t need a SS. They have Taylor and Kiki to handle those duties. Why spend on Machado (prospects plus additional payroll….including the luxury tax implications for 2019), when they know it would be impossible to re-sign him and extend Kershaw.
When Turner comes back, they have options to fill in the infield…..Forsythe, Barnes, Utley, and Valera all can play 2B.
Kemp (surprisingly productive, but untradable), Pederson, Verdugo is a decent OF until Puig comes back….then Kemp is out. Muncy deserves a longer look, if they need him.
Trading Kershaw is smart, if they can get a huge haul……but I doubt they do. Back issues, Opt-out, and a horrible start to the season will factor into those negotiations. I think they should try….maybe they get a haul. But Pitching is their biggest problem. Too many guys who bring an injury risk to the rotation. They’ve done a horrible job of fortifying the rotation. They’ve taken a LOT of chances on guys who didn’t pan out.
Trading Jansen is “giving up”. There’s nobody better, and he’s really NOT that expensive (if he can return to form….and I think he will)
If they do that, then sell off everything of value except Seager, Bellinger, Buehler, Barnes, and Verdugo.
I‘m not suggesting a total rebuild but definitely a minor one. Neither Taylor or Kiki is a starting quality player. Outside of a BABIP influenced 2017 Taylor is really just a utility player. I agree with not acquiring Machado but they could sign him and let Kershaw walk. Of course that’s without taking Seager and Turner into account.
The problem is all of those options are not starter quality players. 2B remains a hole with any of these guys.
I‘m not sold on either Pederson or Verdugo (.381 BABIP). Puig has been terrible this year and is too inconsistent to trust going forward.
I‘m glad that we agree on that. Even with back issues and the opt-out if he’s healthy and pitching well by the deadline they can move him.
I think that a case can be made for Kimbrel, Chapman and Osuna ad being better.
I think trading Kershaw is the right decision for the Dodgers they will get a nice return of youngsters we will have Buhler urais Woods Mitchell maybe sign a veteran under 30 years. What is your thought on this matter
I agree with you completely. As great as Kershaw has been, he failed to push the team further in the playoffs (career 4.35 playoff ERA). His fastball velocity declined from 94.3 MPH in 2015 to 93.7 in 2016, 93.1 in 2016 and 91.9 in 2018. He also hasn’t pitched for 200 innings in a season since 2015.
They should be happy if he opts out and should definitely not give him a large new contract. They have too many injuries and declines to overcome this year, and there will definitely be a contending team that will overpay for him at the deadline if he’s not on the DL. They have a good new core with Seager, Buehler, Bellinger etc. They just need to move on from Kershaw at this point.
I totally agree with you, shop kershaw,trade the ones as you mentioned .I to do not think this group will get it done.I hope the front office see your page.
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Thanks a lot! I think that in the long term they will definitely benefit more from selling.
[…] WHAT SHOULD THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS DO ABOUT THEIR NIGHTMARE SEASON? […]
Shop Kershaw? Seriously? Hahahahaha…sure. Agree not as dominant and won’t pitch like someone who shoukd be getting $30M+ a year, BUT you don’t trade a dirst ballot hall of famer and face of the franchise.
Here’s an idea…stop changing the ball to generate offense.
They need bullpen help, which will become available. Whike not as good as last year, once in the playoffs, you need a player like Kershaw to carry you to championship.
Baseball is a business and you absolutely have to do what’s best for your team. Kershaw will opt out unless his current DL stint is a precursor to a terrible season. His fastball velocity has declined significantly and he hasn’t pitched for 200 innings since 2015. It‘s insane to pay him $30 million annually for the next decade as he‘ll likely expect.
LA have been in the playoffs annually since 2013. He carried them to 0 championships and has a career 4.35 playoff ERA. He’s not Sandy Koufax.
The ball has nothing to do with Hill‘s and Turner‘s age and health, Puig‘s inconsistency, Taylor‘s BABIP influenced production or Ryu‘s health.