Dodgers 25-Man Roster: Prioritizing the Specific Areas Needing Improvement

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Compared to recent years, as far as the Dodgers are concerned, the 2018-19 offseason has heard more chatter about prospective signings and trades than any other. Conversations continue to swirl about a new catcher, outfielders, a second baseman, relievers, and even starting pitchers. Some of the marquee players mentioned have been Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Corey Kluber and DJ LeMahieu. However, in reality, chances are thin that the club lands more than one of these superstars. Taking that into consideration, and not knowing the team’s intended payroll budget, which area of the roster should Los Angeles prioritize the most in terms of a new addition?

We talked about this briefly in the past on the offensive side of things, but one way to shed some light on potential 2019 production is to look at the players who have departed. When we view the raw numbers that Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Yasmani Grandal contributed, along with those of Manny Machado and Brian Dozier (just when they were with the Dodgers), the tally comes out to a whopping 86 home runs and 278 RBI.

Amazingly, that’s 36.6% of the team’s homers and 36.7 % of the teams’s RBI from last year. For a club that depended heavily on the long ball for run production, 86 HR is a lot to lose.

For those who like to look at such things from a WAR angle, between all these players, the Dodgers lost a grand total of 9.9 overall WAR from last season—2.8 from Machado’s time as a Dodger, 3.3 from Grandal, 2.7 from Puig and 1.1 from Kemp (Dozier was a wash). In respect to oWAR alone, the total calculates to 9.8 (3.5 from Grandal, 2.1 from Kemp, 2.1 from Puig, 2.0 from Machado and 0.1 from Dozier). Needless to say, 10 games is a lot in the always unpredictable NL West.

So, as nice as another quality starting pitcher—or even another bonafide bullpen arm—would be, a logical guess is that Andrew Friedman might be most concerned with replacing the offense that he lost, especially since the starting rotation is setting up to be exactly the same as it was for the majority of last season.

Many of the math junkies out there might agree that somebody with Realmuto’s offensive prowess isn’t absolutely necessary, so long as those wins are made up for in other departments, like the hypothetical addition of Harper, who is projected to contribute a 4.9 WAR in 2019 (which is almost half of the total from the players the Dodgers lost). Yet, from a traditionalist perspective, Harper’s track record of having an off-year every other season doesn’t guarantee him producing anything more than Puig’s 2.7 WAR from last year (Harper had a 1.5 overall WAR in 2016 and a 1.3 WAR in 2018).

Coincidentally, according to Steamer and Fangraphs, Realmuto is projected to tally a 3.7 WAR in 2019 while Grandal is slated to land at 3.5. What’s more, Harper is projected at 4.9 and LeMahieu at 2.5.

Consequently, many people might be overlooking the production of Corey Seager (Andy took a look at this not long ago). While nothing is guaranteed returning from UCL surgery, Steamer has Seager pegged at a 5.7 WAR for 2019, which is actually the sixth-best in the majors.

The point is that, from a WAR perspective, with 5.7 from Seager, 2.5 from LeMahieu and 1.2 from somebody like Matt Wieters or Martin Maldonado, the team has already made up for 9.4 of the total 9.9 WAR lost. The 3.7 combined WAR from LeMahieu and Wieters, in theory, could come at about one-third the cost of Harper’s projected salary.

Furthermore, by signing such economical free agents, the team will be able to save its prospects for the summer trade deadlines to enhance the bullpen or acquire a starting pitcher, if needed. Besides, the fact that the Marlins don’t seem to be budging on their demands of Bellinger PLUS prospects, seemingly makes the addition of Realmuto implausible.

At the end of the day, a legitimate bat (right-handed, preferably) is what the team needs most, whether it be in the form of a catcher, an outfielder or a second baseman.

Starting pitching and bullpen upgrades can conceivably wait until the summer, as the outlook begins drifting towards the postseason and the possibility of squaring off against powerhouses like the Yankees, Astros or Red Sox at the end of the road.

 

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59 thoughts on “Dodgers 25-Man Roster: Prioritizing the Specific Areas Needing Improvement

  1. Nicely done Dennis. You had me totally panicked at the beginning but by the time I finished your post I was OK again. What is CT3’s projected WAR for the coming season? I’m thinking I really wouldn’t be upset (if we get another outfielder) to see him as our second baseman.

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  2. The fact that LeMahieu isn’t a Dodger already blows my mind. Sign him and start Verdugo in RF while having both CT3 and Kike as available righty bats on the bench who can play the OF for guys like Joc on days they face tough lefties. We need a leadoff hitter and LeMahieu would be the best option.

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    1. I don’t have a problem with LeMahieu but I’ve gotten to the point where I think CT3 will at least come back part way between his 2017 and 2018 production in 2019 and apparently their projected WAR is pretty much identical. I’d like to give Taylor one more season to see what he can really do and if he can’t improve on his horrible strike out rate from last year even with Van Scoyoc around, I’ll be ready to say he shouldn’t be a regular.

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  3. Theory: The reason AF hasn’t made a big trade is because Machado hasn’t signed yet. Please following along here. In order to trade for either Ralmuto or Kluber/Bauer, we’ll have to give them Verdugo (plus others of course). We won’t trade Verdugo unless we can sign Harper. We won’t know if we can sign Harper until Machado signs because Boras will insist on waiting for that. Therefore, as soon as Machado signs we’ll very quickly find out if we’ve gotten Realmuto or Kluber/Bauer or no one.

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    1. Boras has now done a few of these new fangled “swellopt” contracts where the team can opt in part way through and if they don’t the player can choose to stay or opt out. This could enable AF to offer a contract of higher value for a potentially shorter time frame. Not saying it’s going to happen but these guys are finding they have to get creative (from both sides) to navigate the new unwillingness of teams to make long commitments.

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  4. I agree. Marlins have to accept package around Verdugo not Bellinger.?Problem with Realmuto is that he doesn’t hit lefties at all and that’s Dodgersbbiggest need. I think I’d rather keep Verdugo and go after Cervelli

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    1. Wow, I had no clue how horrific Realmuto’s numbers were against LHP. Just as bad as Puig’s and they rarely let him play against southpaws. No better than Grandal against LHP last year and they rarely had Yaz bat against lefties. Barnes hit 40 points better against LHP than did Realmuto last year. Granted JTR’s overall numbers are very good, but how can we consider giving up even Verdugo, let alone Bellinger for a guy who should probably be platooned based on his lifetime numbers against left handed pitching?

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      1. I guess you just don’t figure any catcher will go more than about 100-110 starts anymore. The days of the everyday catcher have vanished.

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  5. For what it’s worth I don’t trade Verdugo and his 5 years of team control for 2 years of Realmuto. This is the year Verdugo earns his chops as our starting right fielder. And I can see him in the leadoff role, if not right away then soon. He can hit lh pitching and if playing everyday can match Puig’s WAR total, or come close to it. Cervelli costs $11.5 and has 1 year before FA so obviously it would take a lot less to get him. That would put Ruiz, or Smith, on the fast track…. or we sign a veteran like Maldonado or Weiters for two years. Or……. me and Bear’s favorite… Yasmani Passedball.

    I’m not as concerned about the lost oWAR as I initially was. We get Seager back and Kiké, Taylor, Bellinger and Joc are all in their prime and should produce. Turner and Muncy can both mash, we are in pretty good shape even if we do nothing. Odds might look different if Machado and Harper land on NL contenders but we can cross that bridge later. My confidence level remains high.

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    1. I always thought YP was Yasiel Puig but now discover it’s Yasmani Passedball. I admire your optimism Scoop which, together with Bear’s pessimism, brings us right back to neutral. I find that I tend to live my life in that center area which tends to make me boring, but also leaves me less likely to jump off ledges of high buildings.

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      1. I used to jump off ledges into rivers years ago. I stopped when I snapped the spinous process on C-7 diving into the Trinity River. I say this knowing full well it has nothing do with what you’re saying. I’m just going for the shock factor.

        This team, as it is currently constructed, is just like every team AF has put together since ‘15. It’s a potential post season team that won’t win their last game in the playoffs. What changes that? Well, we’ve talked about that for years. We had Houston by the short hairs and our highest paid players coughed up a hair ball. They did it again against Boston, but frankly I didn’t believe we were going to beat those guys anyway. So…. what to do? Put Kershaw on the mound, score some runs, and hope Jansen can close it. I’d like to get stronger at a couple positions but we are already within one less than stud contract away from the salary cap – a number none of us believes for a second would hurt ownership but a self imposed ceiling nonetheless. We can’t afford Kluber, DJ, Realmuto, and Harper. But, I’d love to see what our team with those additions could do.

        We are who we are. I’m working at being grateful for having my team as a top 2 club for two years running. It could be worse.

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      2. Schultz made 22 appearances (one start) with the Rays in 2018, going 2-2 with a 5.64 ERA (19 ER/30.1 IP) while striking out 35 batters against 17 walks. In six minor league seasons, the Albany, New York native has a record of 22-17 with a 3.57 ERA (169 ER/425.2 IP) while limiting hitters to a .230 batting average. The 27-year-old was originally selected by the Rays in the 14th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of High Point (NC) University.

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  6. Ok I’m just going to come out and say what I e been thinking for a while now and I’m probably about to get hammered by y’all for it. Realmuto is overrated. There, I said it. Now y’all can thrash me.

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      1. I can agree to that point but Grandal would only cost money whereas Realmuto would cost several top prospects and then you still have to pay him in a year or two.

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  7. I think Miami certainly overrates Realmuto. I’d like to have him for two years, but only if the price goes down.

    I remember when the Grandal deal was announced some guy on a blog said he would hit .275 with 30 home runs I bet him 500 push-ups that wouldn’t happen. He hit .234 with 16 home runs. I know the guy never did the push-ups, but, I knew he wouldn’t. Grandal is a FAZ guy. If you liked their work, you liked Grandal. I always thought his defense sucked, and his offense was streaky. Plus, in 4 years of post season play he slashed .107/.264/.200. That performance is Oscar worthy suckage. That is mephitic gag a maggot execution. That slash line should be placed in a Hazmat biohazard bag and dropped in the middle of the Antarctic. Wait, with global warming it might wash up on Laguna Beach. Better load it on a rocket and shoot it into outer space

    That said, would I be surprised to see Andrew bring him back? Nope.

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  8. Yaz defense isn’t terrible because he calls a good game and he’s the best pitch framer in the league which about evens out his numerous passes balls and average throwing arm. His calling card will always be his bat. He will never hit for high average but he has insane power from the left side and in today’s game when most catchers are pitiful offensively Yaz and all his flaws are still a top 5 catcher. I wouldn’t mind him back on a 1 year $15 million deal just so we have a bridge to Smith and Ruiz but at the same time I’m just fine with Barnes starting and finding a solid backup to catch once or twice a week.

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  9. That’s horrible scoop, Dennis should put you on another time out for that picture. We can’t afford to trade verdugo for Realmutto it will leave a void in the outfield. Good for you Alex for taking a stance on Realmuto, he’s a good player, but I think the marlins have him priced too high, it would hurt too much too make that trade.

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  10. Thank you Dodger FO for another brilliant under the radar trade! Ol Andy’s penchant for finding mediocrity and brining it in all it’s glory to LA is unparalleled in the league. Andy bamboozled the Rays into giving up this fine pitcher. And with a name like Jamie Schultz, any relation to Sgt. Schultz of Hogan’s Hero’s fame? , How can he miss. Wow, add this guy to Kelly and Jansen and we are assured of many nights of near wins and blown saves. Dodger fans everywhere are praising Andy’s astute judgment of talent!

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    1. Every now and then he hits with one of these darts. In his world you gotta keep throwing them up there and hope one or two stick. They don’t cost much, that’s for sure. Caleb Sampen? Never heard of him. And it gives Honeycutt and his team of miracle workers a challenge.

      My apologies to Yasmani and his brother. That isn’t a most flattering picture. Looks like a nice watch though. He’s only made $20.685 million. I wonder if he too is holding out for his first big payday? I think if I were him I might’ve taken the offer from the Mets. What’s he waiting for?

      Rams 7 point favorites. Hope they land this one.

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    2. I’m delighted that you finally understand the true talent of Andrew Friedman. Anyone can see that Sale, DeGrom and Scherzer are amazingly talented, but no one other than Mr. Friedman has identified the incredible upside on Jaime Schultz. I applaud you Bear for understanding this talent and acknowledging it.

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  11. Wow. You guys are pretty harsh on AF. What other organizations are finding the Taylor’s, Muncy’s and Morrow’s. One big hit a year is pretty significant! And he’s always come through at the trading deadline. I think he deserves some credit!

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    1. In spite of my sarcastic post above Rich, I agree with you. I am much more a fan of Friedman’s than a detractor. Yes, he’s made some mistakes but overall I think he’s done a good job. True we haven’t won a WS in over 30 years but no team, not even the Astros or Bosox, has been in the fall classic for the past two years except for the Dodgers. I know this would never happen, but I would love it if at the end of the season the GM would walk us through his thought process on all the trades/signings he made and didn’t make. They wouldn’t do it because they don’t want to divulge their strategies but it would sure be fascinating. We can yell and scream about deals we wanted but we have no clue what went on behind the scenes that never became public.

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      1. I keep forgetting we don’t have an official GM. We need to explain to those impatient people who come to your site that the Dodgers can’t do any deals because the don’t yet have a GM. I know they’ll understand that and not come down so hard on the front office. I always thought Dan Evans got a raw deal. I wonder if he’s available?

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    2. You throw enough lines in the water, you eventually catch the fish. Face it, Morrow was pure luck. He was () that close to getting his release because there was a clause in his deal that said he could opt out if not in the majors. The Taylor trade was also luck. Not astute vigilance or scouting. There was no indication he was going to be that good in 2017. As for Muncy, well there were no signs there either. He was not that good in the minors. He was more Farhan than Andy. Sorry guys, he has more missteps than hits. And this offseason is looking a lot like last off season with less action and more holes. He has not addressed any of the holes except the pen, and only has 2 roster spots left. I do not like the way he works, never have, and his small market mentality is great for the owners and frustrating for the fans. He is the penultimate dumpster diver. He is looking for pearls in dead oysters.

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      1. 2 Roster spots available is no problem. Yimi, Chargois and Stewart are out of options. At least two and possibly all three will be off the 40 man by opening day. If space was a real problem, Gale would also be lopped off. Then, if you were really desperate because you found a way to sign umpteen great players, you could also dfa McCreery and Schultz. If you did all of the above that would put the 40 man at 32. Problem solved. Now we just have to find 8 real good players.

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      2. All very true Jeff. But as his track record shows, Ol Andy does not have a penchant for the high priced spread. I think we see more of the same kind of moves he has made since he took over the team. I would be surprised to see any free agent out there get more than a 2 year deal from Andy….Grandal signs with the Brewers which is great. Considering the crimes he committed behind the dish in LA, stripes will look good on him. Reports say that it is looking more and more like Harper is going back to DC. Phillies ramping up Machado pursuit and Andy still sitting one his thumbs

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  12. We need key acquisitions that can help us win a World Series. The 2 biggest needs are an eighth inning bridge to Jansen which Kelly can give us and a big right handed bat against lefties which Kemp, Puig, Grandal, Realmuto and Harper are not! I think we need to get Castellanos and stick him in left and Cervelli behind the plate

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    1. First off, Kemp hit more HR’s vs lefty’s than RHP. He had a .273 BA against lefty’s , so he should not even be on that list. Second, the team his .240 vs lefty’s which was down from the year before, but 30 points higher than it was in 2015. So there has been improvement in that department. Detroit wants too much for Castellanos who is a terrible defender and in an already weakened defense is a liability they do not need. Cervelli is not really on the market anymore. They do need pop from the right side, but 30 plus homer pop, not a bad fielding slug like Castellanos.

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      1. Dozier played all last year on a bad knee. He’s an excellent defender, a great clubhouse guy and he can hit you 30 homers IF he plays like the normal Dozier in 2019. Are you willing to give it a shot Bear?

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    1. If Bellinger, Muncy and Verdugo can hit left handers (why not add Pederson to the list?) that leaves Turner, Taylor, Hernandez, Freese, and Barnes to help them. Sounds like problem solved.

      As for Friedman the best compliment I can give him is he hasn’t f’d it up. Things were in pretty good shape when he took over. The team had won 92 and 94 the previous two years and the minor league system was ranked in the Top 5.

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  13. Friedman inherited a good team. They have performed well since he came and like Scoop I am glad he has not completely screwed it up. But I do not credit him with making the team better. He has made some decent moves, and some real stinkers. Not once has he signed a major free agent except his own. He was smart enough to keep Turner and Jansen, but not once has he gone after an impact player in the offseason in free agency. He is sticking to ownership’s desire to stay under the tax. Maybe if they totally gave him the green light he would act differently, but I doubt it.

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  14. Ok Andy, your backup plan is off the market. Time to go for some defense and the one player out there who brings that in spades is Maldonado. Maybe Mr. Von can teach the guy some real hitting skills.

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  15. Don’t forget Wieters bear, he can hit from the left side, so would make a good platoon with Barnes. Do any of you guys really believe we will get Realmuto? I was always a little skeptical, now I think the chances are minuscule.

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    1. I have not forgotten him. I just never considered him an option. There has been virtually no chatter as to that possibility at all. You hear the Dodgers connected to Cervelli, or Realmuto and even Maldonado. There was some early rumors about Hundley even. But most of that has died down, and then there was a story that Friedman has total confidence in Barnes to bounce back. He has a decent defender as a back up in Gale. Not much of a hitter, but decent with the glove. I think as long as Miami keeps insisting on Bellinger, which has been the case, there is no shot of Realmuto coming to LA> There is also a rumor out there that the Dodgers are very willing to trade Verdugo. Seems according to this rumor that the Dodgers do not really have as much confidence in the kid as we thought they did. Now, if they do sign LeMahieu, it opens up the possibility that Taylor becomes a full time outfielder, most likely in LF. starting lineup would be, as the roster stands right now, Muncy 1B, LeMahieu 2B Seager SS Turner 3B Taylor LF Bellinger CF Verdugo RF Barnes C. Add it up and you have 2 players with 30 homer pop, Muncy and Bellinger, 3 guys who have hit at least 20 in the bigs, Turner, Seager and Turner, and LeMahieu would be good for close to 15, Barnes playing almost everyday could give you at least 10. He hit 4 in limited time last year, and Verdugo would also hit 10 plus. Plus you have 3 guys with at least 20 homer pop on the bench. Pederson, Kike and Freese. Not much power from the right side, but if and that’s a big word in this case, those guys all get better against lefty’s, the team will benefit. I honestly believe that Friedman is going to have to at least sign a decent RH hitter to fill either RF or C or 2B. One of those holes needs to be filled by an everyday player. The rest of the Dodger roster is pretty much interchangeable. Pederson, based on his improvement last year is going to get his shots. Kike also had an up year and will get plenty of AB’s. Freese was a surprise with the way he hit as a Dodger. He is a proven veteran and as clutch as they come. As much as everyone believes they will miss Grandal’s bat, they will not miss all the times he killed rally’s with DP ground balls or strikeouts.

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      1. Maybe they figure Verdugo is easier to replace. I don’t think I agree with that. He looks like he could develop into an everyday right fielder. He has all the tools but power, and that could come. Or maybe they still plan on a different, even more talented right fielder. They’ve already traded 2 to the Reds. There must be a plan, and if it isn’t Verdugo who is it?

        We’ve still got a platoon mentality. If not platoon then plenty of utilitarian substitution ability. Freese, Muncy, Taylor, Kiké, even Barnes and Bellinger can play multiple positions. It’s how Friedman thinks. It’s worked ok so far. The stands are full, tv money is rolling in, we are in the playoffs every year. It’s the Kasten success model.

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