The Hot Stove is not hot, but the rumor mill is at least lukewarm, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are, as always, in the middle of it.
The latest free agent name that the Dodgers have been linked to is Marcell Ozuna. A reporter from the Dominican Republic, where Ozuna is from, has reported that both the Dodgers and the New York Yankees are negotiating with the free agent outfielder.
At first look, this doesn’t seem like a fit for the Dodgers. Most recently with the Atlanta Braves, Ozuna has been one of the worst defensive outfielders in the league. But, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has stated that he believes MLB and the Players Association will agree to keep the DH in the NL and that would indeed change the situation for the Dodgers and Ozuna.
At the plate, the 30 year old has been a force to be reckoned with. Last season, he played in all 60 regular season games, hitting 18 homers with 56 RBI and a slash line of .338/.431/.636/1.067, while coming in sixth in the NL MVP voting. The righty hitter would definitely give the Dodgers lineup that right-handed power bat they are searching for.
According to this tweet, the deal would be for somewhere between four and six years. I don’t see the Dodgers giving him that length of contract, but as we all know, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman loves to get creative.
If it’s a day ending in ‘Y,’ and he hasn’t been signed yet, then the rumors are about DJ LeMahieu and the Dodgers are still circling. They are rumored to be meeting virtually this week. Although, it was overheard MLB Network radio that the Dodgers are out on the versatile infielder. As with every other day, we just wait to see what happens.
Corey Kluber held a showcase on Wednesday, and according to Jeff Passan, nearly 25 teams were there. There was no mention of which teams were not there, and the Dodgers don’t need another starter. However, we all know the Dodgers do their due diligence on all available free agents and they have had interest in the RHP dating back to 2018. Kluber had a terrible 2019 and only pitched one game in 2020, but if there’s one thing the Dodgers love, it’s reclamation projects.
Distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine has been much slower than all of us had hoped. However, MLB has told teams to expect an on-time start to the season. One would assume that the same protocols would be in place from last season, and that they’ve done a lot of work to get the season going on time in 2021.
One player that opted out of the 2020 season from the Dodgers was David Price. The left handed pitcher came over with Mookie Betts in the trade from Boston. Over concerns for the health of his family, Price decided that he would not play in the abbreviated season. He did, however, stay in close contact with his new teammates, especially the pitching staff.
On Tuesday, Price posted a video of himself throwing to Mike Brenley and he looked pretty good. In an interview Thursday morning with Hot Stove on MLB Network, when asked how he feels going into the upcoming year, he said:
I feel really good right now, I’ll tell you that. I feel a lot better than I did a year ago or six months ago, I definitely do. It’s kinda like having a major arm surgery or knee surgery, you have to take a year off. And that’s what I was able to do, you know, just worked on different things with my body, with my arm, and I feel like I’m in a really good spot right now.
So far, Price has given every indication that he will be returning to the Dodgers rotation in 2021, and hopefully ,the vaccine and the world will cooperate this season.
Price also stated that he loved the Nickelodeon NFL broadcast on Sunday, where the game was made fun for kids of all ages, and players were ‘slimed’ when they scored a touchdown. We definitely have to agree.
And lastly, we bid farewell to Pedro Báez. The long time relief pitcher for the Dodgers has signed a two-year contract with the Houston Astros. He was the third-longest tenured Dodger behind Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, and had amassed 355 relief appearances while in Blue, seventh most in Dodger history.