Fans of the Dodgers everywhere were finally given the opportunity to breath a sigh of relief on Monday when the team locked up reliever Kenley Jansen and infielder Justin Turner to long term deals, yet after envisioning what the 25-man roster might look like at the beginning of the 2017 campaign, those same fans are left wondering how many more outside players the front office crew will target.
There’s no question that second base remains the biggest hole as far as player personnel goes, and rumors surrounding a potential deal with the Twins to acquire Brian Dozier seem to be holding a fair amount of momentum. Ian Kinsler may very well be the most talented fit, but the complications of wanting an immediate contract extension could make a conceivable trade with the Tigers difficult to orchestrate. Considering his production, Kinsler’s contract is still very team-friendly, having being owed $11 million in 2017, with a $10-million option for 2018. His .306 career average and .507 career slugging percentage would certainly come in handy against southpaw pitching, which was the Dodgers’ biggest weakness last season.
If desperate enough, the Dodgers do have a few unattractive options in-house, but considering how management made aggressive approaches at both Jansen and Turner, it’s obvious that a deep run into next year’s playoffs is a high priority. Most fans see the idea of losing a few of the team’s highly touted prospects as bad news, but the depth on the farm, especially among starting pitchers, has become extremely plentiful in recent years, so much so that the sacrifice of at least one quality minor league arm can probably be afforded. The overabundance of outfielders in the system also gives the management crew more potential trade chips with which to bargain.
Even if the Dodgers score a player of Dozier’s or Kinzler’s caliber to man the keystone, another idea is to make a run at veteran Chase Utley. Besides being an attractive offensive option off the bench against right-handed pitching, his leadership skills and examples of work ethic alone are probably worth a $5-6 million dollar deal.
Some pundits have suggested that the Dodgers may pursue a bullpen piece to compliment Jansen, as ideas of targeting last year’s setup man Joe Blanton and former All-Star closer Greg Holland have been rumbled in recent weeks. As the addition of either would be a huge bonus, barring any type of major injury epidemic, there’s a good chance the existing relief corps may be able to hold their own next season, remembering that many of the younger arms will continue to improve with experience.
Quite a few pundits have proposed that the addition of a No. 2 caliber starting pitcher could possibly push the Dodgers over the top, yet looking at the return of Rich Hill and the number of talented arms at the Triple-A level, Los Angeles should have more than enough strength to fill out the back end of the rotation, allowing the management crew to focus their main efforts on bringing in a talented second baseman.
With only two months remaining before pitchers and catchers report to Glendale, the offseason is beginning to pass by quickly. Although the Dodgers have done a fantastic job in retaining Hill, Jansen and Turner over the past month, one or two more key moves should prove to be beneficial as the team prepares for the beginning of the 2017 season.