After having been defeated by the Atlanta Braves 4-2 in the 2021 National League Championship Series, the Dodgers now face several big offseason questions.
Much of the talk surrounding this season was that it could be the final run for some players in Dodger blue.
The Dodgers have 11 free agents, and they are among some of the highest-profile names in baseball. Some players we truly can’t envision in another uniform..
We’ll take a short look at each player and analyze their situation and determine the probability of them returning to the Dodgers.
Clayton Kershaw — We all know the story here: the longest-tenured player on the team, first-ballot Hall Of Famer, and the best pitcher of his generation. Kershaw has been troubled with injury problems for the past couple of years, as was the story this year missing the entire postseason. It is hard to imagine Kershaw going anywhere else at this point, although anything is possible. Kershaw would be entering his age 34 season. I think Kershaw will ultimately return to LA.
Kenley Jansen — Jansen has been the best closer in Dodger history, although as of recent memory fans have a tough time with him. He actually still is quite dominant. This year, Jansen had the best postseason of his career. Jansen is entering his 34-year-old season, but has 350 career saves under his belt. This very much could be his last deal signed as he progresses towards the end of his career. Once again, much like Kershaw, it is hard to envision Jansen in another uniform although they both won’t get the previous they had in their contracts, I think Jansen does ultimately return.
Corey Seager — Seager is most likely to be the most coveted free agent other teams will be after, as this year’s free-agent shortstop class is stacked. Seager made his debut in the big leagues back in 2015, and now his time to get paid has come. Seager has had quite the success since arriving at the big leagues: he’s been Rookie Of The Year, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP as well as a two-time All-Star. Obviously, the Dodgers can not bring back everyone, no matter how much of a fan favorite they are, it is just impossible. Ultimately, I think Seager will walk, which makes the acquisition of Trea Turner much more important. My gut feeling is he heads to the East Coast to play in the Bronx.
Max Scherzer — Scherzer, since being acquired from the Nationals at the trade deadline, was the Dodgers best pitcher. In his time with the Dodgers, Scherzer had a 1.98 ERA, and the Dodgers won most of his starts. Scherzer, even at his age 37 season, finds himself among the top three candidates for NL Cy Young. His services will also be highly coveted. The biggest threat personally I think will be the Angels, as they may just throw him more money since they’re desperate for pitching. Ultimately, I think Scherzer stays in L.A., whether that be the Angels or Dodgers remains to be seen.
Chris Taylor — Taylor earned his first All-Star Selection this year, but after that he struggled a lot. In the postseason, he was one of the best Dodger hitters. Taylor can play essentially every position except pitcher and catcher, so he is very valuable. He is entering his 31 age season. This to me quite honestly is a toss-up, it will be interesting to see how the market is for Taylor there could be quite a few teams willing to throw big bucks.
Corey Knebel — Knebel was acquired from the Brewers last offseason, a former closer, and All-Star. Like many of Dodger players this season, he missed time due to injury. His final numbers were a 2.45 ERA in 27 games throughout 25 ⅔ innings. He can also save games if Jansen or someone is unavailable. I could see the Dodgers bringing him back on a short-term deal.
Danny Duffy — Some of you may have forgotten about Duffy, he was acquired at the trade deadline from the Kansas City Royals but never made an appearance for the Dodgers. He last pitched in July and was placed on the injured list with a flexor tendon strain. There are several reports that he may require surgery once again or just retire due to his injury problems. It is quite unfortunate we never saw him in Dodger blue as he grew up a Dodger fan. Duffy will most likely not be back.
Cole Hamels — I’ll keep this one short and simple. No, he won’t be back.
Steven Souza Jr. — The veteran found himself on the playoff roster in some big spots. Souza was originally signed as depth and started off the season in Triple-A. I think Souza could very well return on the same deal.
Albert Pujols — Pujols signed with the Dodgers after being released by the Angels early in the season. The future Hall of Famer will be 42 years old by the time next season rolls around. Obviously, he won’t play every day but will get an occasional start. He still has some power in his bat and can be a plus in the clubhouse. It also looks like he’s not looking to call it quits yet. He is planning to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic and intends to pay next year, The Dodgers could bring him back on a minimum deal.
Jimmy Nelson — Nelson has been with the Dodgers organization for a couple of years now, but injuries have limited his playing time. He was originally let go last season and then re-signed. This season he pitched in 28 games, with a 1-2 record and a 1.86 ERA. Unfortunately, he then needed Tommy John surgery due to a flexor tendon repair in his right arm. The Dodgers could decide to bring him back to a Minor League while he still rehabs.
It will be tough to see some of these guys ultimately go, but I guess all good things must come to an end. We’ll have to wait and see what happens over the course of this offseason.