A Quick Look at the Dodgers’ Impending Free Agents

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.

27 thoughts on “A Quick Look at the Dodgers’ Impending Free Agents

  1. The Bauer situation looms over the Dodgers.
    I agree that Kershaw, depending on his arm injury will be back with a two-year incentive-laden deal. I think Jansen will come back. I thought for sure Seager would go to the Bronx as the Yankees could use a SS. But recently Seager stated he would like to come back to the Dodgers. Was that Boras instructing his client to let the Yankees and other East Coast teams know it will take a long-term very expensive deal or he will return to the Dodgers? Seager is a great offensive threat but he is an average to below-average defender with a history of injuries. Does the comeback offensively of Lux and the signing of Trea Turner make Seager expendable?
    Taylor made himself very expensive/ Do the Dodgers decide to use McKinstry and Lux as utility players? IS Rios back from his shoulder surgery next year?
    I do agree that Scherzer may want to come back or might go to the Angels who desperately need an ace in their rotation.
    I imagine Knebel has proven his arm is fine and will demand a larger deal than the Dodgers will want to spend as they have Graterol, Vesia, Bickford, Treinen, and probably Jansen in the bullpen. Ferguson may be back along with Gonzalez. Some of the minor league guys may be brought up if they need more arms. Kahnle will reportedly be healthy and is under contract also.
    The rotation next year will probably be Kershaw (if Healthy & signed), Buehler, Urias, Gonsolin, and TBD. Will May be back mid-year? May is young and was hurt early.

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  2. Before deciding how to handle his free agents, I think AF is going to want to know Bauer’s status. I expect MLB to come to some sort of decision within a week of the end of the World Series. I’m not exactly sure what Bauer is set to earn next year (have seen numbers anywhere from 35-45 mil) but whatever the case, not having to pay him would pay for some other guys.

    My guesses as to who stays/leaves:
    Kershaw – stays
    Seager – leaves
    Knebel – leaves
    Kelly – leaves
    Taylor – stays
    Jansen – leaves (someone like the Phillies will pay him too much for him to resist)
    Pujols – leaves
    Scherzer – leaves if Kershaw stays

    I don’t think they’ll go after both Kershaw and Scherzer due to their age and likelihood of potential arm problems. If Kershaw leaves or retires (I don’t expect either), then I could see them going after Scherzer. If Verlander would sign a one year deal, I could definitely see that happening instead of Scherzer who would take a lot more years and $.

    Possible bench players to sign:
    Donovan Solano
    Eduardo Escobar
    Josh Harrison
    Jonathan Villar
    Matt Duffy
    Joc “The Pearl” Pederson (although I expect him to stay in Atlanta)

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  3. Thx for the info. Not easy to say goodbye to some of these guys but I think the current management will continue to make good decisions. The Bauer situation, possible NL adopting DH and how hard Dodgers go after Freddy Freeman could affect your analysis. Freeman would move Muncy to 2nd and Muncy could also spell Turner at 3rd. Freeman would not negotiate during season, is from California and his son will just be entering school. I expect all 4 California teams and plenty of others to be in the bidding.

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  4. Scherzer wins the Players Choice pitcher of the year award. Bauer is the elephant in the room. Until that mess is cleared up, and the new CBA in place, I do not expect AF to do much of anything. Pujols is playing in the Dominican Winter League to show teams is still a valuable piece.

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  5. The dynasty that couldn’t win is over. We need taylor and a 2nd baseman and 3 starting pitchers and 2 outfielders and 3 bench pieces. Max is much more reliable ( and better) than Kersh and can play a full season. Baur will be on the books for the next 2 years no matter where, or if he plays. Relievers are interchangeable but is not a problem. We will also need a dh or a 3rd baseman. Someone please explain how all this will happen? The more I think about this the more difficult I see the problem. Please tell me again about the talented double a minor leaguers and the 28 year old career minor leaguers on the farm.. oh and a manager would help emensily. Ok I’m done. LoL

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    1. Calm down Gordon. Do you realize what you’re doing to your blood pressure?
      The dynasty that couldn’t win actually did win, although only once, so you could rightfully say they aren’t a dynasty.

      Yes, we need a third baseman or DH, most likely someone who can do both and alternate those positions with JT.

      We have a second baseman whose name is Gavin. I have confidence that if given the position he’ll do fine next year.

      You say we need 3 outfielders. Mookie and AJ are two. Does this mean you are assuming Belli won’t be worth anything next year? If we have CT, he will play a lot of outfield so I don’t see where we need 3 outfielders.

      You think Bauer will be on the books for the next two years but if MLB suspends him for part or all of 2022 that money comes off the books. I think we’ll have an answer on that one within the next week or 10 days and it’s next year that’s the important one because that’s where the bulk of his remaining salary is. 2023 is a lot less by terms of his contract.

      The rest of the starting rotation will be a challenge, but I’m willing to see how Andrew handles that before I panic.

      And, by the way, I’d normally be voicing some of the thoughts that you did as I’m a pessimist by nature, but I’m even more of a contrarian so when I saw your comment I felt a burning need to take the other side.

      Now as far as our AA prospects are concerned………………………….never mind, a discussion for another time.

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  6. You are going into cardiac arrest for no reason Gordon. Bellinger is going to be fine. He will have a full spring, provided there is a next season with the CBA needing to be renegotiated. Pollock, Betts, and a cast of thousands. I am not worried about the Dodger outfield at all. Primary target as stated by Friedman is starting pitching. Secondary target is the bench. Friedman likes his pen pieces. Second base will take care of itself. If Seager goes, Turner is the SS, his natural position. Unlike some, I think they will try to get him to sign a new deal. Lux can play second. Or, they can deal for another outfielder, put Cody back at 1st and move Muncy to second. Lots of options. Their biggest competition in the league is going to be the Braves. Most of their stars are very young guys. They will get Acuna back next year.

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    1. Yes, they could put Cody back at first and move Max to second but I sure hope they don’t do that. Cody is one of the best centerfielders in the game and Max has turned himself into a very good first baseman. Don’t mess with success.

      Not only do the Braves get Acuna back next year but might also have Ozuna and Soroka back. As you point out, they have a pretty young team and will be a pain in our side for years. Chances of their not bringing Freddie F. back are practically nil so they’ll basically have all of this year’s assets plus add a potential MVP and home run champ to the mix and a very good young pitcher, depending on how he comes back from his injury.

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      1. The NL West will be a very competitive division as I trust Farhan Z to continue to cherry-pick free agents and he has a lot of money he can spend. The Giants with their new stadium and land deal have a lot of revenue. The Padres will be back although I am not sure about their pitching which we all know collapsed from injury.
        The Braves are definitely on the rise.
        This year the Dodgers missed the great bench they had had in the past. When you have to bring up Souza to save the series you are doomed. So as they miss Joc and Kike I think they go all out and sign Taylor.
        The Bauer mess will be dealt with by the MLB or it won’t. Whatever happens, the announcement will be a few weeks to a month after the WS. If they do not suspend him unlike many others I think he plays next year if there is one left after a long strike.
        Everyone forgets Rios. He is a very good, power-hitting 3rd baseman. We missed him this year. But he should be back as he had surgery early.
        I like young Vargas in AA as he is a contact hitter he may be ready or a year away. Miller, Beeter, Pepiot, Jackson, among others that might make it to the MLB. There are a lot of young arms that will be able to compete next year. I think Gonsolin will be fine for the rotation he was injured early and never made it back. Bellinger demonstrated he FINALLY figured out this is not 2019 and nobody cares he was the MVP and he had to change his swing, especially with RISP. Lux, I also turned a corner and will improve.
        I think if he is given the OK medically Kershaw will sing for 2 years. Jansen may also.
        I know it is a long shot but I hope the Dodgers do not extend Roberts and eventually replace him.

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      2. Yes, the Padres pitching collapsed from injury but they weren’t career threatening injuries and I think they’ll be very strong next year, on top of which they get Clevinger back, and he’s an excellent pitcher. I expect SD to finish ahead of SF next year.

        I don’t know what you consider a long strike TMax, but I say we don’t miss more than 2 months at most, so basically I expect things to be up and running by June 1st at the latest. Just a gut feeling. Nothing to back it up.

        Rios has not proven to be very good but he has shown that he has promise. He is, however, recovering from shoulder surgery and that’s usually at least a year of playing before the player looks like his old self. I wouldn’t expect his normal power numbers next year.

        I think Kenley will get 3 years from someone and, although it wouldn’t totally shock me, I don’t think it will be from us.

        You and I are the charter members of the Miguel Vargas Fan Club, but I don’t see him contributing until 2023, or very late (like Sept) 2022. I’d love to be proven wrong about that.

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      3. Just a suggestion in case Lux flames out at 2nd. They could move Mookie there also to save on his legs. I honestly believe the following players will not be in LA next season. Seager, even though he has said he would love to stay. He will get a huge deal, Jansen. Just time to move on. They have cheaper options, Taylor, another case of his contract is not going to be viable in their payroll. Kelly. Had he not been injured, they would pick up his option, and another case of there are a ton of pitchers who will be free agents out there with the same skill set. Kersh will sign a 2 year incentive laden deal to come back. Scherzer will also get a 2 year deal with an option year.

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      4. I really hope Mookie gets surgery to fix that hip because I can’t believe it will heal itself with rest. He might start the season OK but eventually…………………………………….trouble and the IL. I’m sure he’d make a great second baseman but when healthy he might be the best right fielder in baseball.

        If, as you say, Seager and Kenley leave that’s about 30 mil in salary saved from this year’s payroll. If MLB suspends Bauer for a year, that’s another 40 mil or so. That would leave plenty of room to pay CT3 his 12-15 mil.

        If Kersh decides he doesn’t want to sing for 2 years, would you be available Bear? 🙂

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      5. Sorry for the misspell I gotta stop using my iPhone for comments! I agree about Vargas, possibly late 2021 probably 2023. The owners and players do not trust each other and the players feel they did not get a good deal on the last labor agreement. The maximum salary amount, the draft choice penalty for signing free agents, and a minimum for team salary are three points that may stop a deal. A Playoff change adding teams will be another. I think the DH should be easy along with a player or two more on the roster. I believe we will be very fortunate if we see baseball in June and I hope I am wrong.
        I hope Rios is not as stubborn/dumb/arrogant as Bellinger. Bellinger was frankly an idiot for swinging from his heels every pitch. Thankfully he figured out he has to change. Rios should be OK by mid-year.
        I do not expect the Dodgers to do much until the Bauer situation is settled and they have a good feeling about the Team Salary thresholds. The Competetive Balance thing was a disaster and the players are not going to let it stand without a lot of changes. If I were the players I would not agree to any ceiling below 300 and make a mandatory minimum at the higher end of the scale. That is why I think there will be a long strike.

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      6. Kershaw doesn’t sing? I figure he is a country singer being from Tejas. I hope Mookie gets something done for the hip.

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      7. Yep, I would sing ….for a price…no more freebies…..Bauer investigation by the Pasadena PD completed.

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  7. Hey T, I did not know Kersh could sing for 2 years! I am sure you meant sign. I do not think they go all in for Taylor, big reason, he is going to get at least a 4 or 5 year deal for 50 mil plus. Rios will feel the same effects Belli did. Padres will be a pest. As long as their starting pitching holds up. But they have a lot of questions on their roster and 2 players they would love to unload, Hosmer and Myers.

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    1. Not saying they definitely will, but there are incidents of MLB suspending players when no charges were brought by a D.A.’s office. I think we’ll know one way or the other by this time next week.

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      1. Not sure they can suspend a player over allegations, if the da doesn’t bring charges against him. Would also need a conviction I believe. Mlb would have no interest in getting involved in what would be z very, very large court case. Think 70/80 million lost wages. Mlb will just drop it and let the dodgers clean up their own mess. I just can’t see the Da proceeding , or a conviction if they do.. if the dodgers pay him out and release him, how does that affect their payroll?

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      2. Actually they can suspend a player over allegations. Sam Dyson’s girlfriend accused him of abuse, the police investigated and declined to charge him and MLB suspended him for one year. He accepted the penalty without challenging it, something that I’m not at all sure that Bauer would do.

        Nothing says that MLB will go the same route here and they just might throw it into the Dodgers’ lap, but I’m guessing that AF and the rest of the front office are very much hoping that MLB will do the heavy lifting.

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      3. We should hear right after the Series is over what will be done. I would think if there were charges they would be filed by now, but this is a multi-millionaire Los Angeles Dodgers player here, not just your every day perv. And even if there are no charges MLB can do whatever they want. Bauer has been gone a while, if no charges are filed maybe not showing his face for another 5 months or so, the public will be ready to move on. ‘22 should offer a lot of distractions for people. Let’s see, what happens in ‘22 that will have people looking the other way…..

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      4. I would be very cautious in thinking the MLB suspends Bauer or if they do it could be for suspension time already served and throw it back at the Dodgers. Manfred IMHO has not been an effective commissioner and has made several controversial decisions. The memory of people is in days not 6 months or a year. The Dodgers could use Bauer. I suspect Bauer’s “People” will have him make publicly contrite statements, go to counseling, donate a million or so to women’s charities and possibly find religion and TaaDaa! All is forgiven.
        I suspect that Kershaw signs so the rotation would be the same as last year minus May. Kershaw, Bauer, Buehler, Urias and Gonsolin. If the Angels have half a brain they go after Scherzer. Kelly will be bought out, I think Jansen is a coin flip with Treinen, Graterol, Bickford, Vesia, and the possibility of Gonzalez and Ferguson coming back and Kahnle recovering from his surgery. They do not need Jansen and can shed some salary. I still think Seager signs with the Bronx Bombers for a huge deal. If Bauer stays then Scherzer signs elsewhere.
        If Seager leaves and Turner moves to SS do they perhaps get a free agent as Bowden has suggested and sign Marte as he gets on base? That would move Bellinger to 1st and Muncy to second.
        I am starting to think Bear is right and Taylor signs a big deal with another team.

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  8. MLB can suspend him. Contract morals clause. And he does not need to be charged or convicted for them to do it. Pasadena Police just finished their investigation and handed the results to the DA> It will be after the World Series is over, but some form of announcement should be coming shortly. The other elephant in the room is whether his team mates want him back or not.

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    1. No way he’ll be back with the dodgers. And no way he’ll be suspended by mlb. , if they do the dodgers will be off the hook and he’ll sue mlb for lost wages. And probably win with no charges or conviction. Without charges it’s he says, she says can’t deprive a man of his livleyhood over unsubstantiated accusations. Dont think a moral clause would stand up in court without some evidence. One way or another he’s going to get Payed. Who would actually employ him is beyond me.

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      1. Wanna bet? MLB suspended Sam Dyson for a year without him being charged or convicted of anything simply because he violated MLB’s rules. So your summation is wrong. MLB can and does suspend players and has a right to do so in agreement with the MLBPA>

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