Should Dodgers Look to Upgrade Roster from Outside?

Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

About three weeks ago, Andy put together a story about the prospect of the Dodgers improving the player roster by exploring what was still available in the free agent market. She wrote this a week before the peak of Bryce Harper‘s decision, and believe it or not, there were still plenty of fans who thought that Andrew Friedman could get creative enough and find a way to lure the superstar to Los Angeles.

Once Harper began packing his bags for the City of Brotherly Love, those same fans were brought back to reality, confirming the popular belief that the primary goal of the Los Angeles management team was to once again stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold for the 2019 season.

After all, the roster looks good. There’s a mix of both youngsters and veterans, and there was talent spread out everywhere. The coaching staff is solid, and there are enough blue-chip prospects on the farm to keep everyone excited. The should be enough talent, barring injury, to at least contend for yet another division crown.

However, not long after the moment it was confirmed that lefty reliever Tony Cingrani would begin the year on the injured list, coupled with the injuries of both Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, the possibility arose of the Dodgers looking to the outside to bolster the relief corps. Even skipper Dave Roberts himself toyed with the prospect of a trade or free agent signing.

The Dodgers made one relief addition last weekend in righty Justin Grimm, but the 30-year-old journeyman threw to the tune of a 10.38 ERA last year, suggesting the signing is “a shot in the dark,” to say the least. Grimm was inked to a minor league pact and was not placed on the club’s 40-man roster.

As far as trades go, the possibilities are endless, and it’s tough to guess which clubs the Dodgers would be communicating with. Speculation in these regards is often futile.

Nevertheless, the are a few free agents still on the market. Two that come to mind right away are lefty Dallas Keuchel and righty reliever Craig Kimbrel.

Kimbrel made $13 million last year with the Red Sox, and the rumors that began to circulate last November suggested that the 30 year old was seeking a contract in the neighborhood of six years and $100 million. Many find those numbers laughable, especially when considering his age. We could debate for hours about whether or not his numbers warrant a salary in the $16-17 million range, but in the end, the question remains as to whether or not the Dodgers are willing to blow past the threshold.

There are a bunch of different versions out there, but my numbers have the Dodgers’ 2019 CBT total right around $195 million. The threshold for the 2019 season is $206 million. There’s a window there for bonuses and incentives—see Kenta Maeda‘s deal—but any way you apply the numbers, a Kimbrel signing would certainly blow the Dodgers past the cap.

Both Keuchel and Kimbrel are similar from an age and salary standpoint. Keuchel is just one year older and made just slightly more—$200K to be exact—than Kimbrel last year.

Keuchel has shown that he can chew up innings, and he could conceivably add some depth and dependability to a Los Angeles rotation that’s already feeling the effects of the injury bug. His career 3.66 ERA and 3.72 FIP aren’t overly appealing; however, the Oklahoma native is just one year removed from a 14-5 record with a 2.90 ERA and three seasons removed from a 20-8 record, a 2.48 ERA and a Cy Young Award.

Up until the time when suggestions were made that the Dodgers might seek help from the outside, I admittedly thought there was absolutely no chance at all about signing a free agent who could make a positive impact. There’s still quite a bit of depth within the system, although many of the arms are still unproven. Plus, the structure of the 40-man roster is quite complex this year. Besides, Friedman is famous for waiting to the summer trade deadline to make any necessary upgrades, giving his club several months to gel and establish some sort of identity.

Regardless, the possibility of signing somebody like Kimbrel is intriguing.

At the end of the day, though, there might only be room for one pitcher with the initials of CK on the Los Angeles roster, especially if the guy on the outside is still making exorbitant demands in the $100 million range.


17 thoughts on “Should Dodgers Look to Upgrade Roster from Outside?

  1. Kuekel wouldn’t make our post season pitching roster and no way Kimbrel signs with Dodgers to pitch the 8th inning

  2. Dennis please. “Quite a bit of depth in the system but many of the arms are unproven?” They are not yet depth, they are prospects. If they were “depth” you wouldn’t be writing this column and justin Grimm would be unemployed.

  3. Of course they should improve the team from the outside! The Dodgers lost the World Series two years in a row to first the Astros and then the far superior Red Sox. One would think that they would want to improve the team during the off-season, but they failed to do so. The Dodgers remain 4th in the Power Rankings, I guess the front office is fine with being inferior.

    1. Hmmmm. I never considered preseason power rankings based on prior performance as an absolute measure of inferiority. And wanting to improve the team during the off-season does not always make it possible to improve the team. Because there are 29 other teams also wanting to improve, sometimes, even with best effort, progress comes only in small, irregularly spaced steps.

      1. Of all NL teams we are the one that needs to improve the least. 6 straight Divisions, 2 straight pennants? We’ve reloaded very well. We can’t really compete with AL teams in power rankings as they have the DH. An example of what that means was evident in the Freeway Series. Where did the Angels DH hit in the order? 3rd in the first game, cleanup in the second. And where did our DH hit? 8th both nights. Over 162 games that advantage is going to add up. Over a 7 game series, 4 of which will likely be played in the AL park…. I think you get the point.

        I agree with Gordon’s take on depth. I’ve said it for a few years now, every team has players ready to step in. Some better than others but they are there. Calling guys like Stewart and Stripling depth is a bit of a stretch. Urias would qualify I suppose but when your starting rotation is built with guys who can’t start 30 and can’t finish any, by design you must have the extra ML arms there. We do. The season hasn’t even started and we are pulling from the junior varsity. Hope they are up for it. I believe Urias is, though because of circumstance he’s a 5 inning guy. If he can mow ‘em down on 12 pitches per inning he might could go 6. How long he goes depends on the stress level. We start the season at home against two weaker Division rivals. We should be ok. Should be. We’ll see.

  4. You do realize Stripling was an all star last year. He had a great first half and faded in 2nd half with some minor injuries and tiring. I’d call that pretty good depth. Why the insistence on 30 starts and 200+ innings. With depth you don’t need that and there’s greater chance guys are healthy and fresh for playoffs. Studies show pitchers more likely to get injured and underperform when tired especially young pitchers. Look at Severino last year. I think starting pitching is a real strength of our team. What other teams have guys like Urias and Stripling to step in.

    1. Studies show something and history shows something else. Starts and innings pitched used to be a big deal. If any team had a pitcher who could start 32 and pitch 230 inning that pitcher would be invaluable. We don’t have it so we build a support system of lesser paid arms. It’s a strategy that has worked well enough to be in the playoffs regularly. And that apparently acceptable.

      1. I always wonder if a anyone has researchedwhy in the day of pitchers going every 5th inning and 150 innings there arr so many injuries compared to the day when pitchers went every 4th day and threw 250+. And I mean a way more injuries! It also seems there were more aces and more hall of gamers in the day. I mean there was no such thing as Tommy john until well tommy john

  5. Strippling is pretty good for depth, it’s not like we’re asking him to be the ace of the squad. He’ll do fine in the role the team is asking him to fill.

    1. I agree Keith. Depending on who he’s facing, he’s another 5 inning 3 earned guy. I don’t expect him to duplicate last year. What I found interesting about him is the fact he didn’t start a game until April 30th. He threw 7 innings once, and was outstanding through June. After July 12th he kinda faded. This year I see him with maybe 110 innings, 3.6 ERA, wins a bit more than he loses.

  6. This year strippling is depth, but next year the team may be looking to him to fill a hole in the rotation, with Hill, and Ryu, likely leaving. Hope he can build on last season, and keep moving forward.

  7. O/U is 7 1/2 today. We’re favored of course. Seems low, but Greinke is starting, probably go 6, so …..4-3 or 5-3? Slow start, I’ll take 4-3 and the over on 9 Dodger strikeouts. Ryu won’t finish 6, I also say there will be more strikeouts than hits in this game.

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