Los Angeles Dodgers 2017-18 Offseason Primer

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(Mandatory Credit: Jesse Rieser)

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)

 

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15 thoughts on “Los Angeles Dodgers 2017-18 Offseason Primer

  1. Happy to see you’ll be active during the off-season. Your posts are great and always thought provoking (as you can tell by the number of comments I leave). I would like to see them try to bring back Morrow and wouldn’t be totally upset if Watson returned, although I’m convinced he’ll get a better offer from someone else. I think it’s time to waive good-bye to the others, including Utley. Would love to see him added to the coaching staff. I would think they’ll pick up Forsythe’s option, even if they plan to trade him. They could certainly get something for him rather than just letting him leave, although I’m guessing they keep him. If Seager is going to need surgery, I hope they do it quickly. Based on their comments and his I would tend to agree that it’s probably going to require some lengthy downtime. I don’t know how much your readership dips during the off-season but this is one reader who’ll be checking in daily. Question: if you are the front office, do you spend the money/years necessary to sign or trade for a premier or very good starter or do you think they have enough to get through next year with what they have?

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  2. enjoyed your article, it makes me start thinking about next season already. I love the off season, all the trades,moves, signings, etc. I look forward to seeing how the front office shapes the team over the winter, and getting your view on all the moves, and non moves. Hope to see some articles soon on things you think they may do with personnel, will they sign Morrow, or look for the next Morrow. What will they do with the pitching staff, up grade, stand pat.how will they sort out the out field, Taylor ,Puig, Pederson, Toles, Bellinger. Love to hear if you think Culberson earned a spot on the team for next year, with his play during the play offs. Start writing, we’ll be reading.

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  3. Jeff, I think they will stay with what they have on the starting staff, hoping the up grades come from within( Buehler, Urias, at some point)

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    1. I hope you’re right Keith. I doubt they’ll go for someone very expensive like Arrieta or Darvish because of their stated preference to get under the cap for one year so they can re-set. If they could find a way to trade for a very good, relatively inexpensive guy like Archer, they might go for it, but that would probably take half the farm system. By my count they have 8 possible starters going into spring training: Kershaw, Hill, Wood, Maeda, Ryu, McCarthy, Stewart and Stripling. I’m guessing we don’t see Buehler until a few months into the season (if he’s doing well at OKC) and Urias probably not until September at the earliest. I’d much rather see them spend time and effort shoring up the bullpen to the point where Doc doesn’t hesitate to use any of the guys he has there. I guess they might decide they would prefer to use Maeda in relief now but that would probably take some convincing and a re-work of his contract incentives based on relief work instead of starting. I’m sure if given the choice Maeda would rather start.

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  4. It’s going to be very interesting to see what they do with maeda. I’m sure he would rather start, and your right about the contract being an issue, all his insentives were tied to starts. You forgot about Kazmir, that makes 9.

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    1. You’re right, I did forget about Kazmir but I’m guessing he’ll never start another game for us. At this point I think he’s untradeable but the front office is very inventive with roster spaces. We shall see.

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  5. Mlbtraderumors.com has a top 50 free agents list,they wrote that Minor would be a good fit for the Dodgers , that would certainly help the bullpen. Where’s Dennis? He’s missing out on some good stuff here.

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    1. Maybe Dennis is busy booking his room for the Winter Meetings. After all, Thinkblue needs its personal rep there to feed us all the good stuff. 🙂

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  6. I’d really love to see Morrow come back, but I don’t think the Dodgers will offer anything near his asking price. He’s gonna want at least two years, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he asks for something in the $20 million range. Needless to say, he can easily be a solid closer for most of the clubs around baseball. I think the club tries to build a bullpen from within, and if need be, do some shopping around the deadlines at the end of July and August. I believe the same can be said about the rotation. Kersh, Wood and Hill make up a solid foundation, and if the club feels the need to upgrade, they’ll wait until the deadlines. Might not be a bad thing if Kenta is shifted to the pen—although it would prevent him from earning incentives—although in the greater scope of things, my gut would rather have him in the rotation over McCarthy. Also, if Tim Locastro has a solid spring, it’s gonna be hard to keep him off the big league roster, especially when considering there will be a spot vacated by Utley. That said, it will be interesting to see if Culberson pursues minor league free agency.

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    1. I’m a big fan of Culberson’s but I’m guessing that if the front office can’t pretty much guarantee him a 25-man spot, he’ll waive good-bye, and Andrew certainly won’t guarantee him anything, at least not until the end of spring training. If Charlie has any kind of a decent agent at all, I would guess he could get himself a major league contract with one of the other 29 major league teams. His versatility (able to play both infield and outfield) will certainly appeal to someone.

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  7. I don’t think they will bring utley back. If Culberson batted lefty, I think he would have a good shot at the spot,with him on the roster we start getting to right handed from the bench. I think they will be looking for a left handed batting utility infielder . All that said, I really liked the way Culberson looked in the play offs, I didn’t realize how good he was on defense. Dennis, what side does Loastro bat from? Do you think he is ready for that kind of a role?

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    1. Good point Keith. If Utley doesn’t come back we would definitely need a lefty hitting utility infielder. Can anyone think of someone already in our system or someone on another mlb roster that fits that description? This would become even more important if Seager can’t start the 2018 season due to surgery (worst case scenario, but possible).

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