Quite obviously, the Dodgers‘ ties to the Minnesota Twins and second baseman Brian Dozier have dominated most of the Los Angeles baseball news for much of the current offseason. In addition to Dozier, rumors surrounding Ian Kinsler of the Tigers and Brandon Phillips of the Reds swirled early during the Hot Stove, but ultimately lost any type of momentum due to the potential complexities of completing a trade.
While many fans of the Dodgers would totally embrace a deal for Dozier, there’s no question that the Los Angeles front office crew is hesitant to sacrifice more than one top-tier prospect to score a second baseman who has but one breakout season on his résumé. Undoubtedly, it won’t be the end of the world if a trade with the Twins cannot be worked out, as there are seemingly at least a handful other viable options, several of which are listed below.
Jonathan Villar — Perhaps the steal of the century occurred for the Brewers when they acquired infielder Jonathan Villar from the Astros in exchange for minor league right-hander Cy Sneed in the winter of 2015.
After two dismal seasons to begin his MLB career, Villar tremendously improved his plate discipline during his 2015 campaign, eventually slashing .284/.339/.414 in 53 games playing behind Jed Lowrie in Houston. Last season in Milwaukee, however, the switch-hitting Villar came into his own mainly hitting out of the leadoff spot, batting .285/.369/.457 with 38 doubles, 19 home runs and more impressively, a whopping 62 stolen bases.
On top of that, he profiles even better from the right side of the dish, having hit .309/.385/.581 against southpaw pitching in 2016. Villar could potentially fill two huge voids on the Dodgers’ roster — an upgrade offensively against left-handed pitching, as well as being a quality leadoff guy who bats from both sides of the plate.
Of course, there hasn’t been any hint from the Brewers in regards to shopping Villar right now, but perhaps the versatile infielder could be landed at the right price. With highly touted infielding prospect Orlando Arcia currently on the fringes of the big leagues, an exodus involving Villar down the road may already be on the agenda.
A conceivable trade with the Dodgers involving two or three high quality prospects may be worth exploring.
Logan Forsythe — While a trade with the Rays for Logan Forsythe may not be overly appealing to fans of the Dodgers, the cost for the 29-year-old Memphis native would not be nearly as high of a price tag which the Twins or Brewers would demand.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was attracted to what the infielder brought to the table several years back, and traded for Forsythe when he was the Rays’ general manager in 2014.
Forsythe still has a contract that’s considered team-friendly and fits the Dodgers’ budget perfectly, being owed $7 million through the 2017 season, along with an $8.5 million club option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout.
With the ability to also competently man third base and first base, the 6’1″, 205 lb. right-handed batter would fit nicely into the Dodgers’ roster, especially if he’s needed to provide cover in other spots around the infield.
Having primarily hit out of the leadoff spot last season, Forsythe slashed .264/.333/.444 with 20 home runs in 127 games played. Against left-handed pitching in 2016, he slashed .270/.315/.461 over 124 plate appearances.
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Chase Utley — Re-signing Chase Utley and utilizing him along with an in-house platooning option would certainly patch the hole at the keystone, at least until other clubs are more eager to deal around July’s trade deadline.
Even at 38 years of age, Utley poses an attractive offensive option against right-handed pitching, while his leadership skills and examples of work ethic alone are probably worth a $5-6 million dollar deal.
If desperate enough, the Dodgers could use Utley as a leadoff man in a pinch, as he hit .264/.329/.416 in 112 games when hitting at the top of the lineup. Although both his sophistication and perseverance at the dish were very key in the club’s success last season, Utley’s slash line against lefties, .154/.206/.264, indicates the need for a platoon partner, after he hit .254/.357/.439 against southpaws in more than 2200 plate appearances over his 14-year career.
Andrew Toles — As ludicrous as it sounds, just think about it for a second. The Dodgers’ current outfielding corps is loaded with talent, especially young, controllable players in the likes of Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Trayce Thompson. Giving Andrew Toles a legitimate crack at second base would provide a long-term, left-handed hitting option beside prospect Willie Calhoun, and also afford Tolesy unlimited playing time in 2017.
Toles certainly has the speed an quickness to develop decent range at second, but whether or not his glove and footwork could progress to big league caliber probably depends more on his overall baseball aptitude and reflexive instincts. Naturally, this theory could potentially turn into a disaster, but what’s the harm in trying throughout the initial weeks of spring training or during the early portion of the Cactus League schedule? Once upon a time, a very high number of pundits familiar with the Los Angeles organization doubted that a youngster named Dee Gordon could effectively man second base at the major league level.
In the end, the front office crew will indeed make some type of play to fill the second base void, even if it’s bringing back Utley with a one-year deal. If the desire of Dodgers management is large enough to sacrifice several top-notch prospects and land someone like Dozier or Villar, though, it could prove to be the difference between making a jovial appearance in the NLDS and contending for a World Series championship next November.