With most of the dust now having settled on the 2017 World Series, some fans of the Dodgers have decided to take a brief hiatus from their beloved club to regroup, while others continue to scour the web in search of all the up-to-date news and developments. Yet for the Los Angeles front office crew, the work never stops, as the offseason is a time when many missing links are filled in terms of the player roster and even the coaching staff.
Plenty of topics will be discussed surrounding the Dodgers over the winter—anything from the club’s payroll to trade rumors to injuries. In view of this, we have decided to put together a very concise primer/outline for those looking to stay in tune with the team during the offseason.
Here are seven significant matters that many fans will be following the next three-plus months:
Free Agents – At the conclusion of the World Series, six players who were members of the Los Angeles 2017 roster became free agents. Those players include pitchers Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson, in addition to outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Curtis Granderson, as well as second baseman Chase Utley. Darvish and Morrow have already expressed interest in returning to the Dodgers, however, don’t be surprised if the front office crew decides not to sign any of the aforementioned players. We’ll talk more about this as the winter progresses.
Team Options – Two players have team options on their respective contracts heading into the 2018 campaign—infielder Logan Forsythe and veteran oufielder/fan favorite Andre Ethier. Forsythe’s 2018 option is for a $9 million salary with a $1 buyout, while Ethier’s is set at $17.5 million with a $2.5 million buyout. Forsythe’s option is very likely to be picked up, but there absolutely zero chance management pays Ethier the $17.5 million. Quite possibly, Ethier has seen his last days in Dodger Blue, although there may be a slim chance the club explores a much smaller contract later in the winter after he becomes a free agent.
Injuries – Injury news will frequently influence much of the team chatter this winter. Question marks are already surrounding the return of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and many are wondering if significant surgery awaits shortstop Corey Seager, and, if so, what kind of recover period would follow. Progression and rehabilitation will be key in the prospective returns of both Andrew Toles and Julio Urias, while the future still remains unclear for Scott Kazmir, who remains under contract through the 2018 campaign.
Winter Meetings – The 2017 Winter Meetings will take place in Orlando on December 10-14, and follow the General Manager meetings, which will be held on November 13-16, also in Orlando. The Winter Meetings will create most of the steam on the hot stove, and are the stage where many of the big trades happen during the offseason. In addition, the Rule 5 Draft is held on the final day of the meetings, when some players who are unprotected on a club’s 40-man roster are up for grabs for most teams around the league. The Winter Meetings also follow the non-tender deadline, which is December 1.
Trades/New Signings – It remains to be seen if the Dodgers will be active in trades or the free agent market over the winter. There has been a lot of talk surrounding the future of catcher Yasmani Grandal, as he’s eligible to become a free agent after 2018. Will the Dodgers decide to fill in the missing 40-man and 25-man roster pieces from within the organization, or will the look to upgrade externally?
Budget/Payroll – It’s no secret that the long term goal of management is to pare down the payroll to avoid severe luxury tax penalties, but just how far will the front office go? Will the limitations prevent the club from signing any big-named free agents at any point in the season? Will the large contracts of Ethier and Carl Crawford coming off the books provide the flexibility to explore players outside the club? More importantly, are there enough pieces in-house to put together a formidable starting rotation—one that has the potential of delivering another long playoff run?
Coaching Staff/Management – There haven’t yet been any announcements about the 2018 coaching staff, but there’s already news surfacing that pitching coach Rick Honeycutt‘s return is uncertain. Additionally, former farm director Gabe Kapler was recently announced as the new field manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Changes loom, and fans are wondering if the Dodgers will promote from within, or look for prospective replacements outside of the organization.
These are just a few stories which will makeup a majority of the news content this winter, as the momentum continues to build up until when pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch in mid-February. Be sure to check in with us frequently, as we’ll be here daily to discuss all of these topics and much, much more.
(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)