Dodgers 2020 Roster: To Spend or Not to Spend

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Seemingly, the fan base of the Dodgers is split as far as predicting whether the team will make a big splash this winter in terms of upgrading its player roster.

Some feel that boss Andrew Friedman and his troops will take the conservative approach in making a few menial acquisitions, while others believe the front office crew will go big in landing someone like Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg or Anthony Rendon.

Either way, for the first time in a while, there’s plenty of extra money on the books for management to spend, even if it means staying under the MLB Luxury Tax Threshold for the third consecutive season.

As it stands, $40 million seems to be a good ballpark figure regarding the excess funds while still avoiding the CBT. It could be enough to add one of the aforementioned superstars, or it could also afford Friedman and Company the opportunity to do some bargain-bin shopping for a multitude of different players.

Friedman himself says he has no set system in mind over the winter.

“I think for us, and I know it sounds like a cliché, but we really don’t have any hard-and-fast rules,” Friedman recently told Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “We’re not opposed to any form of player acquisition. I think it’s just important to maintain some discipline whether it’s on the trade front or the free-agent market to find what works best for us.”

Last winter was interesting to say the least. The Dodgers wasted no time in signing Clayton Kershaw to a three-year contract extension, while Hyun-Jin Ryu accepted the club’s qualifying offer of $17.9 million not long after. Those two moves were significant in forming the core of the team’s 2019 starting pitching rotation.

At the Winter Meetings, which are sometimes the busiest point of the offseason with player transactions, the team signed reliever Joe Kelly to a three-year deal. Some folks felt that this move was a huge upgrade for the bullpen in securing a capable setup man, while others felt in was more of a menial move, specifically when noting the inconsistencies over Kelly’s big league career.

The same can be said when the club inked outfielder A.J. Pollock to a four-year deal.

Both of those moves turned out to be mostly insignificant, but that’s not to say neither player will not play larger roles in 2020.

Sandwiched between the Kelly and the Pollock signings was a deal with the Blue Jays that saw catcher Russell Martin return to the Dodgers. Once the smoke cleared on the trade, the Dodgers were on the hook for about $4 million of the veteran’s salary. This turned out as quite the bargain, especially in terms of having a bonafide leader in the clubhouse.

Of course, the big move occurred when the Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and cash to Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey, Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray a few days before Christmas. At the time, many expected this deal was a prelude to signing Bryce Harper, but it turned out to be basically a salary dump instead. Some felt that Downs and Gray would be immediately flipped in a subsequent deal; however, both have since thrived on the Los Angeles farm, finding spots ranked inside the team’s Top 10 prospects.

Regardless, there wasn’t much done to make the team significantly better. Pollock was mediocre when he was healthy, but he certainly didn’t fill the right-handed power gap created by the departures of Kemp and Puig. Kelly showed flashes of decency, but his inconsistencies prevented him from being trusted on a large scale. Both were terrible in the 2020 NLDS.

Although Friedman has no set plan this winter, he may find himself under much more pressure to make significant improvements to the roster, especially after the club’s early exit from the 2019 postseason. Whatever the case may be, he’s not showing his cards. As a matter of fact, he still has plenty of confidence in the core group that led the team last season.

“I don’t feel like we need to shake things up just to shake things up,” Friedman added. “I actually think this was as focused, committed and driven a group as I’ve been around. So I don’t feel like we need to shake up to change the complexion of our roster in terms of personality or talent.”

On the contrary, the opposite may be true. As other formidable opponents around the league have made strides early to improve their respective rosters, the Dodgers might soon be in a position to follow suit.


23 thoughts on “Dodgers 2020 Roster: To Spend or Not to Spend

  1. Well here’s a hard and fast rule Mr Discipline. Sign Cole and win a WS title or don’t and you won’t!

    1. But…… “I don’t feel like we need to shake things up just to shake things up,” Friedman added. “I actually think this was as focused, committed and driven a group as I’ve been around. So I don’t feel like we need to shake up to change the complexion of our roster in terms of personality or talent.”

  2. Why bother when 4 mil fans show up anyway! Maybe if a million less fans show up that will get their attention. Unless AF spends that remaining money on someone who can put us over the top they’re not getting my money next year!

      1. I can see that this uprising is really starting to get a head of steam.
        I hated McCourt with a passion, not only for how he ran the team but for the kind of person I perceived him to be. Back in those days I used to go to about 6-8 games a year and my son and I finally decided we had had enough and we would boycott that season. To this day, we take credit for being the ones who got him out of town. 🙂
        I just don’t feel the same way about Friedman, or even the current ownership for that matter. Those of you who do are entitled to your opinion. I’m just not in your camp.

    1. They did not draw 4 million unless you count the playoff games. 3,974,309. About as close as you can get without hitting the number though. But the fact is this. the attendance drops a million, that is not sending a message to these guys. Just the die hards coming through the gates is going to keep them over 3 mil. You are a drop in a huge bucket. How many games did you go to this year? I went to 2. My sis and my brother were the ones who paid for the tickets, because in my SSA, no way I can afford them. One time our seats were 35 dollars, and the other time 42. Plus what was spent on concessions. So the whole thing for 2 games was a little over 300 bucks. The Dodgers will continue to draw, and continue to be a contending team pretty much no matter what AF does. Unless they go into a total rebuild, they are going to win. But the big prize, well that takes a little extra. Never have believed AF has the cojones to make that big deal that puts them over the top.

  3. You’re sounding a little edgy today Rich, don’t jump ship yet, signing Cole isn’t the only way to improve the team. There are a couple of other free agent pitchers that could help the rotation, and there are trades out there that could help.
    I get what you’re saying, doing nothing is not a good option. AF doesn’t have to try to dump money like he had to the last two off seasons, so I’m hoping for some straight baseball moves, we’ll see, scoop, bear, and IJDK could be right. Let’s all hope they aren’t.

    1. Let me be clear here, I think Olaf is ready to spend money. I just don’t think he’s ready to spend money that doesn’t match up with analytic projections. I also think it’s possible, and even likely, he gets outbid on players he’s interested in.

      It’s my opinion that contracts have to be constructed so that they pay for production up front. I don’t think we want to be paying any of those guys $35 million when they are 35 years old. 6 years and $210m @ 40, 40, 40, 30, 30, 30 has got to appeal to somebody. The WAR expectations then break down to 4,4,4,3,3,3, and it’s quite possible, even likely that all of those guys produce more than 4 the first couple of years. but after that who knows. And why do I say that? Because the analytics also say ALL those guys will be leaving their prime years in about 10 minutes. It’s possible we’ve already seen the best of them, which is why I don’t think we will see them here. I think Friedman has other ideas. But I’m prepared to be wrong.

      1. Any player with a decent financial advisor should be thrilled with a contract as per your example. Assuming he’s OK with the total contract, getting an extra 15 mil in the first three years (as opposed to equal payments throughout) gives him that money early to invest with and earn income from. Front loaded contracts should never be a problem. It’s the Nats game of deferred payments that makes agents unhappy. It’s always better when the player can work with the money rather than the team.

      2. “The Dodgers have shelled out almost $140 million in dead money. For perspective, that’s more than at least 18 teams will spend on their entire 25-man rosters in 2019, per Spotrac.”

        It’s time for that trend to end. Pay the Free Agent player now for what he will be doing now. To balance those $40 million contracts we need to have a few Muncy’s and Pederson’s WAR numbers at affordable prices. That’s why guys like Lux, Bellinger, Seager, Buehler, Smith, May etc are so valuable. You have to mix those young controllable contracts in with the Kershaw Rendon contracts.

  4. General managers have a fine line to walk, between getting the players they need to win, and not getting stuck with a really bad contract, that cripples your franchise, or depletes your farm system for years. Luckily the Dodgers aren’t KC and can afford to make a mistake without derailing the franchise.

    Scoop, I think your right about AF and his analytical projections, but he has, Mlb players and prospects he can trade, money under the LT, and not much long term money on the books. So it seems like the right time to make a move or two that would normally be out of His comfort zone.

    If ownership was willing to go into the 20% LT penalty, AF would have a LOT of money to spend, wouldn’t that be nice.

    1. Sure Keith. He has MLB players and prospects he can trade. But who? Lux? Pederson? Turner? Pollock is almost untradeable. He trades some of his fringe players and he is not getting much back in return. The hot item talk has been Pederson to the Sox. But for who? Nobody has a clue who has been discussed. You trade 36 homers for a less than deluxe arm? I do not see them wanting any of their position players, and none I see would be a difference maker. Now maybe they go the multi team route. He has done that before. Unless he trades for a big name, he is still just moving sideways. Every one keeps talking about Lindor and Betts. But I think both of those guys are just wishful thinking. The Indians are going to want a huge package for Lindor. And I am betting, that while Lindor would improve one position, some other part of the team would be weakened. Cole is being pursued heavily by the Yankees, and they are opening the vault to get him. Betts is a free agent after this season and has repeatedly said he is going to test the free agent waters next year. So who would you give up for one year of Betts? There are a lot of questions to be answered between now and spring training. And no matter what we say here, they is no one who has a clue as to what is going on in OLAF the OAF’s head.

      1. I don’t see trading what Cleveland would want for two years of Lindor. I like our top prospects and believe 5 years of them is better than 2 years of Lindor. If we want Betts just wait until he hits FA. He will be next year’s Rendon, only 2 years younger. Lindor will hit free agency at age 28. about the same age as Seager. Maybe we pick which one we want then. It’s hard for me seeing Boston or Cleveland parting with these guys. Both teams need them and who would want to rent them at what they would cost. If you can’t re-sign them just give them the QO and say goodbye

        Bold predictions for Winter Meetings at Rumors this morning doesn’t have us mentioned. Says Friedman missed his flight. Went to Hawaii instead.

      2. Just like last year. Not much mention of the Dodgers at all. Even the Pederson rumors have died down some. And you hit the nail on the head. Just exactly how far would OLAF go to get a player like Lindor or Betts and I am betting he would not sell the farm for either. On the other hand, Chicago is hell bent on dumping some payroll, and I am thinking, why not try to trade for Kris Bryant. He would be cheaper than Lindor, is a So Cal kind of guy, and a good clubhouse presence. Plus we have the kinds of parts the Cubbies need. Extra outfielders and some prospects who are highly rated, but not necessarily going to make an impact in LA.

      3. I don’t see how Bryant can be traded until they decide whether he has one or two years of control remaining. He has filed a grievance stating that the Cubs originally delayed bringing him up in order to gain an extra year of his services. No real word on when that decision might be made although I would think it might be soon since it will directly affect the trade market.

  5. Bear, I don’t know if, or who we should trade, I’m trying to make the point that AF has the most flexibility that he has ever had, so it seems like the timing for a substantial move is good.

    I respect you guys that are speaking your mind about your frustration, I personally figure if I could live through the Fox And McCourt years, I can deal with anything this ownership does. Fred trading Pedro Martinez for Deshields wasn’t the smartest thing either, but we survived.

    1. Fox trading Piazza and Zeile was not a great move either. How about Lasorda’s only trade, Konerko for Shaw. Frustration is turning to disgust. And I do not give a rats ass that that he has more flexibility than ever before. This guy has shown his spots every year and still you believe in him to do something he has never done, not even when he was in Tampa? You had better check exactly how much payroll he has to play with. Right now projections put it at 29 mill. not enough to sign Rendon, Cole or Strasburg without dumping some payroll. And if you sign one of the star free agents, that means you can only go the trade route to fix that disaster that has been the bullpen. I know what point you are trying to make, and that is your choice. You choose to see through blue colored lenses, and not face the hard facts that your hero is a big bag of hot air. If he does something significant that actually makes the team better, I do not mind being wrong, been there and done that. But I have seen nothing from this person that gives me any confidence in him what so ever, so keep dreaming.

  6. Word out that the Yanks have offered Cole 7/245. I doubt that’s their final offer, it’s just where the bidding starts. It would be the highest total contract ever for a pitcher and the highest total AAV. No surprise.

    1. Well if that is the starting point the Dodgers are out of it period. Moreno is bold enough to go higher, but no way OLAF comes close to that. I think that is close to what it would take to lure the So Cal kid to the Bronx

  7. Except for the Padres who have been very active and the Braves, most moves have been the peripheral kind. Role players if you will. No major additions to the heart of the teams. In that sense AF has done the same thing. No layers added to the 40 man. Minor league guys the focus right now. Rosenthal still believes that Lindor is coming to LA, and who is to say, he might be right. it is the cost that is unknown. I think if the Indians keep insisting on Lux, who seems to be their main target, no way this trade goes down.

  8. You have to give the yanks credit, they put their money where your mouth is. Several teams have expressed interest, but nobody has put up an offer, except the yanks. Btw I HATE the Yankees, but I respect them as a well run franchise.

  9. For the Cy Young, the AL winner was on average 27.4 years old, while the NL winner was 25.8 years old.

    Just thought I’d thrown that out there.

    Who knows, maybe Cole is Tom Seaver, without having to throw 259 innings when he’s 33 and 238 when he’s 40.

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