We are now only a couple of weeks from the planned commencement of 2021 Spring Training. After the Players Association rejected the league’s proposal for a 154-game season yesterday, MLB announced that it is planning to start Spring Training and the MLB season on time. If everything goes according to plan, Spring Training would start on February 17 and the season on April 1.
With spring camp slated to start so soon, free agents have been signing with teams at a faster pace over the past couple of weeks. MLB has made life harder on National League teams, as there yet has to be a final word whether the universal designated hitter will return.
Obviously, if the universal DH returns, it is a boost to teams being able to write in another bat on the lineup card. With the Dodgers, we saw skipper Dave Roberts ease back players returning from injury while giving guys a day off periodically. If the DH returns, it is a big boost to the Dodgers, perhaps allowing them to sign an extra bat while also showing versatility in their everyday lineups.
Here’s a look at some remaining free agents the Dodgers can possibly sign. To make it interesting, I will leave out any players that spent last season with the Dodgers.
These signings could depend on the return of the universal DH. While they aren’t completely ruled out if there is no DH, it could theoretically lessen their chances. Ozuna normally plays the outfield but benefited from the DH spot this past season with the Atlanta Braves. Ozuna is currently 30 years old and signed a one year deal last offseason. It has been reported that the Dodgers and Ozuna did have some mutual interest.
Cruz is highly unlikely if there is no DH. Recently, the 40-year-old veteran has expressed interest in coming to Los Angeles if there is a DH position. Last season, Cruz posted a .303 batting average and knocked in 33 RBI. Ozuna, meanwhile, tallied a .338 batting average and 56 RBI. If either player happens to sign with the Dodgers, it is likely to be due to the universal DH returning, a role these two would likely feel comfortable with.
The reigning National League Cy Young winner is still a free agent this late into the offseason. The rumors have ramped up with Bauer and the Dodgers, as he could possibly seek a short-term deal with a higher AAV. The Dodgers are rumored to be open to trading David Price, who is planning to pitch after opting out of the shortened season last year. However, Price’s hefty contract could hurt a trade with potential trading partners. The only way Bauer and the Dodgers agree to a deal seems to be a one or two-year contract at this point. Bauer pitched himself to a 1.73 ERA in the 2020 shortened season.
This move seemingly comes out of nowhere at this point in the winter. The Dodgers have to do absolutely whatever they can to bring back Justin Turner. But, in case Turner does not return, they will have to look for a replacement. Edwin Rios can possibly slide into the hot corner; however, they will still need depth, preferably somebody who hits from the right side of the plate. Franco is a buy-low player. He’s still only 28 years old, so he has a couple of years of his prime left.
No one is going to replace Turner, but the Dodgers will need to make a move if Turner is ruled out. Franco, who spent last year with the Royals, hit .278 and knocked in 38 runs. He’s a career .252 hitter, and his season-high for home runs was 25 back in 2016 with the Phillies. There aren’t many options left on the market, as some of the Dodgers’ alternative plans have signed elsewhere. Think of an investment in Franco like the way Turner arrived in Los Angeles on a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp. I’m not saying Franco will turn into Turner, but it would be a perfect example of an Andrew Friedman reclamation type of project.