Now that the two biggest headliners of the winter’s hot stove market—Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton—have made their respective 2018 destinations known, baseball fans can shift their attention to the Winter Meetings on Sunday, and start considering the secondary wave of available players, which really should have never been secondary at all.
Some fans of the Dodgers have already expressed a bit of disappointment in not landing either Ohtani or Stanton, but the truth of the matter is that Los Angeles already has a solid 40-man roster with no gaping holes whatsoever. What’s more, there’s the premise that the front office crew is still diligently trying to steer the club’s payroll under the luxury tax threshold, and while 2018 may prove to be a difficult year to accomplish that task, 2019 is definitely in the realm of credibility.
Nevertheless, the potential acquisition of Stanton was an intriguing one, leading many fans to imagine what the middle of the Dodgers’ daily lineup would look like with the reigning NL MVP Stanton, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig and others. Yet, if the management crew is still excited by the potential upgrade of a right-handed swinging outfielder, guys like J.D. Martinez and Lorenzo Cain are still available for the taking.
And this season’s pitching class of free agents, although not overwhelmingly star-studded, is still very deep. Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish and Lance Lynn are among the available starting arms, while Wade Davis, Brandon Morrow, Greg Holland and Addison Reed are the big names among the relievers open for the taking.
All of these potential acquisitions are fascinating, as are the infinite number of trade possibilities which exist, especially those formatted to dump off a significant portion of the Dodgers’ otherwise dead salary. Obviously, I could be wrong, but I still believe that Los Angeles sticks with the guns on the existing 40-man, and re-evaluates the club’s needs when the deadlines approach next summer. I do believe that the team will acquire a left-handed hitting middle infielder in some shape or form, as well as taking on a few more reclamation projects in hopes of strengthening the bullpen.
In theory, a prospective trade sounds great to fine tune the roster and perhaps strategically dump some dead salary, but the big wheels have already shown how much they value the stud prospects in the organization. And, besides, who in their right minds will assume any amounts of the ridiculously high contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir or Brandon McCarthy when health issues could conceivably keep all three on the pine for the majority of the upcoming campaign.
If anyone has trade value, it’s catcher Yasmani Grandal, but we’ve already discussed that the prudent move may be to hang on to the veteran switch-hitting backstop, at least until the deadlines approach, giving guys like Kyle Farmer, Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz some time to polish their respective skills on the advanced levels of the farm.
In 2017, the Los Angeles payroll topped $244 million, far and away the highest in the bigs, and the club will be forced to pay a luxury tax for the fifth year in a row.
According to USA TODAY Sports, the Dodgers, who paid $31.8 million in taxes a year ago, will again be hit with another bill exceeding $30 million, calculated at 50% for a third-time or more offender. It also includes a 12% surtax on the $40 million above the $195 million payroll, and 42.5% for the total amount above $235 million.
From a fan’s perspective, many believe that the organization should do everything possible to reach for the team’s first championship since 1988; however, from a business and financial perspective, continuing to unnecessarily pay a constantly increasing monumental fee makes little sense at all. Some may argue that in the end, the extra money spent is returned in the investment, but again, all of the millions of dead dollars being shelled out to several players who may not even be on the 25-man roster is borderline absurd.
At the end of the day, a few new capable faces to fill the small roster holes would certainly be nice, but don’t be surprised if the Dodgers stay put with the core that’s already in place. And if they do, there’s definitely no reason to be disappointed, because this club is still very, very good with the players they have right now.
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