Early Thursday morning, the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly agreed to a six-year, $162M contract with first baseman Freddie Freeman, causing Dodger fans to rejoice and the rest of baseball world groan and/or marvel at the stacked roster the Dodgers have.
Indeed, the starting lineup is All-Stars top to bottom, with the exception of catcher Will Smith, who will very soon be one. Three former MVPs in their lineup, and another on the mound in Clayton Kershaw. What more could the Dodgers possibly need on their quest to get a second World Series win in three years?
While the Dodgers are indeed close to having an all time great team, there are still holes to be filled.
The starting rotation is the next place that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman should be working on. As it stands right now, the starting rotation should be Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, Kershaw, and Andrew Heaney. The fifth spot is up for competition. Tony Gonsolin could be that guy, or there are rumors of David Price working himself back up to be a starter. Andre Jackson showed promise last season, and could make a jump to more time in the majors. Mitch White also had some starts last season to varying success.
But after the first three slots there are a lot of questions. Heaney was 8-9 in 2021 with a 5.89ERA. Gonsolin, Price, Jackson and White haven’t made it through a full season yet (or in a long time in the case of Price). While Kershaw says he’s healthy, it’s a long season. And on Thursday afternoon, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to extend Trevor Bauer’s leave for nearly a month, until April 16. Another starter would go a long way to shoring up this rotation.
The bullpen also could use another pitcher, although that need is not the most dire at this moment. Who the closer will be is not known, and manager Dave Roberts has said he intends to use Blake Treinen in the most high leverage situation, and not necessarily the ninth inning. As such, he plans to take a closer by committee approach.
One thing the Freeman signing did help shore up some is the bench. Max Muncy will move to second base for most starts, where he feels more comfortable than at first base. That moves Gavin Lux into more of a utility roll, and a bat off the bench. Roberts has said that Lux will see time in left field in spring training games, allowing him to have more time to learn the position while not in an actual game.
The bench will now consist of Lux, Edwin Rios, Matt Beaty, and Zach McKinstry, along with whatever position player happens to have the day off. Utility man Hanser Alberto, while not on the 40-man roster yet as he is awaiting his physical, is also expected to contribute. While they could still use another bat off the bench, it’s still better than a lot of bench players on other teams.
No team is ever perfect, and we know injuries will rear their ugly heads at some point this season. But if the Dodgers can acquire another mid-to-top rotation guy, this team might be about as perfect as a team can get. The quest to get Kershaw another ring starts now.
29 thoughts on “The Dodgers Signed Freddie Freeman – Now What?”
The four guys you list for the bench Andy are all left handed hitters. And you forgot about new acquisition Hanser Alberto who hits righty.
Since ST is shortened this year and Rios has had so much time off, I could easily see them sending him to OKC to start the season so that he can work himself into better offensive and defensive condition before being called back up.
If we assume a 26-man roster, that means only 4 bench players after the 9 starters. In order to get 9 starters most days, either Lux or CT3 will be starting somewhere, but that leaves the other guy on the bench. And we also forgot about Barnes.
So here is how I see it.
T. Turner – SS
Mookie – RF
Freddie – 1B
JT – 3B
Muncy – DH
Smith – C
Belli – CF
Pollock – LF
CT3/Lux – 2B
Bench: CT3/Lux (whomever isn’t playing 2nd), Barnes, Alberto, Beaty
That leaves no spot for Rios or ZMac.
If MLB decides to start the season with 28 man rosters, I think most teams will use the extra 2 spots for pitchers, since very few will have had a chance to stretch out in the shortened spring training.
Barnes and CT 3 were included in the “whoever has the day off” part
But if you add Barnes and CT3 to the four guys you mentioned, doesn’t that give us a 6 man bench? I think the roster can only accommodate 4 bench guys plus the 9 starters. Or am I missing something?
Well, I don’t especially know who is and who isn’t going to be up with the team to start the season, or any given time. I think fans are smart enough to know that it is a rotating cast
Totally agree. We’re going to see a lot of different guys in Dodger Blue this year.
Nice recap. The only question I have is the omission of Hanser Alberto who has been signed pending a physical. He is expected to be on the bench and be the only right handed hitter other than Barnes.
Yes my bad. Was going through the 40-man roster and forgot him
Taylor is a bench guy. He will be the RH super sub.
Freeman not on the active roster yet. Dodgers signed Danny Duffy to a one year deal. There is a team option for 2023.
Not sure why anyone would consider this lineup any better than last year’s and the bench is still marginal at best. The only way this lineup is better is if Belli gets back to where he was 3 years ago, which is questionable. On the other hand it was pretty good last year. Pitching is starting to look like a disaster as we get near opening day.
It all depends on how optimistic you want to be about injuries.
Belli can’t be worse than he was last year. Mookie is healthy. Trea is playing his natural and preferred position and is a better defensive shortstop than Corey. Smith has one more year of experience under his belt.
Agree that pitching could turn into a major problem. In order for it to be a good starting staff, everything has to fall into place.
The ‘27 Yankees
Sounds like mookie is ok. Never bought into the belli injury excuse lasting year and a half. All we’ve done is substitute freeman for seager, a sawoff but as I said they were very good without Belli last year. And I agree there is no room for zmac or Rios on the roster. But pitching Ugg.
One of the better articles on Joc Pederson and his new home.
Thanks for the link scoop, that was a pretty good article, I wanted to read the Keith Law link, but I don’t have then Athletic, I keep saying I’m going to sign up for it, but never do.
Here’s the first 10:
This is the best farm system in baseball, with roughly 10 guys who’d be on a global top 150 (note to my editors: NO) and a whole different kind of depth — their “depth” guys aren’t depth guys for a major-league team, but prospects who have real upside and are just further away or higher-variance than the guys in their top 10.
To qualify for these rankings, players must still be eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award in 2022, which means they may not have more than 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched or 45 days on an active roster heading into this season.
Note: Ages as of July 1, 2022.
1. Diego Cartaya, C (Top 100 ranking: No. 13)
Age: 20 | 6-3 | 219 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
We shouldn’t get too excited over any player’s 31-game sample, but Cartaya was already a serious prospect before this past season, receiving a $2.5 million bonus in 2018, then performing well in the Arizona Rookie League in 2019. He got into 31 games this year in Low A before a bad hamstring strain in late July ended his season, but he hit .298/.409/.614 when he played, with consistently high exit velocities and solid plate discipline all at 19 years old. Cartaya is going to be a monster at the plate with patience and power, and he’s improving as a defender across the board with enough of a baseline to leave no doubt that he’ll stay at the position. He needs more reps as a hitter and catcher, of course, with just 80 pro games under his belt, but he’s already so skilled for his age that he has No. 1 overall prospect upside.
2. Bobby Miller, RHP (Top 100 ranking: No. 50)
Age: 23 | 6-5 | 220 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 29 in 2020
The Dodgers took Miller out of the University of Louisville with the last pick of the first round in 2020 (before any supplemental picks), so the 6-5 right-hander didn’t make his debut until this year. The pick already looks like a steal, as Miller rolled out with four pitches, 94-98 on his four-seamer with good riding life, a plus slider at 84-89, and above-average weapons in his curve and changeup. He missed time with an oblique strain, but threw 56 regular-season innings with 70 punchouts and just 13 walks, then struggled a bit in three AFL outings. He has a stiff front leg when he lands and has had minor injury concerns, so there’s some small reliever risk here, but he has the weapons, the control, the history of getting lefties out, the size, just about every other box you’d want a potential front-line starter to check.
3. Michael Busch, 2B (Top 100 ranking: No. 53)
Age: 24 | 6-1 | 210 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 31 in 2019
Busch is quite the anomaly: The Dodgers drafted him as a first baseman, converted him to second base and it worked. Busch has a beautiful left-handed swing that puts good loft on the ball, showing plus power against right-handed pitching, and he has long shown an advanced feel for the strike zone. He spent all of 2021 in Double A despite having just 10 games of pro experience before this year, and hit .267/.386/.484 in 107 games, with 20 homers and 70 walks. He struggled to do damage against lefties, with a .198/.355/.354 split against them, but wasn’t exactly overmatched against them, drawing walks and making contact, just without the impact. That’s a smaller hill to climb than one where a left-handed batter is striking out excessively on left-handers’ breaking stuff. With Busch playing solid enough defense at second, his bat makes him a clear regular, with a chance to be an All-Star if he improves his results on balls in play against southpaws.
4. Miguel Vargas, 3B (Top 100 ranking: No. 62)
Age: 22 | 6-3 | 205 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Vargas defected from Cuba back in 2015, then signed with the Dodgers and debuted in 2018, and all he’s done since then is hit — his professional line stands at .316/.384/.480, with just a 15.6 percent career strikeout rate, all of which has been consistent right up through Double A. He’s a very strong right-handed hitter who’s still coming into some power, with strength already in his hands and wrists to drive balls the other way. He’s gone from having no chance to stay at third base to having a very small chance to stay there; he’s not very athletic or twitchy, with an above-average arm but probably lacking the quickness on his feet to play third base at an average level. He may end up at first base, although the Dodgers have tried him at second as well, and the potential hit to his value is what keeps him out of the upper tier of prospects. His offensive upside as a .300+ hitter for average with 25-30 homers and 50-60 walks a year would make him a solid regular even if he does have to go to first.
5. Andy Pages, OF (Top 100 ranking: No. 76)
Age: 21 | 6-1 | 212 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Pages hadn’t played above the Pioneer League before 2021, but moved to High A as a 20-year-old and hit .265/.394/.539, finishing eighth in all of minor league baseball with 31 homers and 14th with 77 walks. Pages has 70 raw power and an advanced feel to hit for his age and experience level, along with average speed and an 80 arm that will serve him well in right field. His swing is balanced and very rotational, so between his hands and legs he can generate consistent hard contact; he’s already cut his strikeout rate from 28 percent in short-season to 24 percent last year, and it doesn’t have to go down any further to make him an above-average everyday player in right.
6. Eddys Leonard, SS (Top 100 ranking: No. 98)
Age: 21 | 6-0 | 160 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Leonard had just one game above short-season coming into 2021, but hit so well at both levels of A-ball, with a .297/.390/.539 line, that the Dodgers had to put him on the 40-man in November. Leonard has a fantastic swing, hammering fastballs even up in the zone and producing hard line-drive contact, enough to rank him in the top 25 of all minor-leaguers in extra-base hits with 29 doubles and 22 homers last year in just 107 games. He’s mostly played shortstop and second base, although the Dodgers tried him out in center for 11 games last year; he could stay at short and maybe end up a 55 defender there, but he’s an above-average runner and centerfield might be a better option given the Dodgers’ other talent in the infield. The bat is going to play anywhere, though, and if he shows he can crush better offspeed stuff the way he crushed tough fastballs last year, he’ll be in the top 25 next winter.
7. Ryan Pepiot, RHP (Just-missed list)
Age: 24 | 6-3 | 215 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 102 in 2019
The Dodgers’ system is hilarious; I see at least four other guys who had a credible argument to be on the top 100 or this just-missed list. Pepiot has an 80 changeup, one of the best pitches of its type in baseball right now, along with an above-average fastball, although he didn’t dominate left-handed batters last year as you’d expect for someone with a change or splitter of that caliber. Instead, he uses it as much to neutralize right-handed bats as left, and I think he could pitch in the majors in relief right now. He has a simple delivery and gets on top of the ball well for some plane on the fastball and to help turn over that changeup. What he lacks is the command and control he’ll need to be a starter without an above-average breaking ball (for now, at least); he walked a man every other inning in Triple A, only getting through five innings twice in 11 starts because of his inefficiency. That said, it’s an 80 changeup, and helps the fastball play up as well, and a tighter slider or a bump in control would make him at least a back-end starter right now.
8. Landon Knack, RHP
Age: 24 | 6-2 | 220 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 60 in 2020
Knack was the Dodgers’ second-rounder in 2020, a fifth-year senior who had incredible control, and he continued all of that in 2021, working 93-96 with a slider and changeup. He doesn’t have a plus pitch but the three he shows are all at least solid-average, and this kind of control — eight walks last year in 62 1/3 innings between High A and Double A — is more than enough to make him a back-end starter if he stays healthy, and he should make an impact sooner than most of the other arms on this list.
9. Jorbit Vivas, 2B/3B
Age: 21 | 5-10 | 171 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Vivas is an exceptional hitter for contact, striking out just 11.5 percent of the time between both levels of A-ball as a 20-year-old, but he’s more than just a Punch-and-Judy hitter. Vivas slugged .515 in Low-A Rancho Cucamonga with 13 homers, and should end up with average power down the road. He’s mostly played second base in pro ball, splitting time last year between second and third, but he’s much better at the former spot and will need work on his defense if he’s going to stay at third or be a super-utility guy. He’s not a great athlete, but if he plays second, hits for this kind of contact, and gets to 15-20 homers a year, he’ll be a regular.
10. Jose Ramos, OF
Age: 21 | 6-1 | 200 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
No one bothers with stats from extended spring training, but if they did, Ramos might have been the MVP of Arizona’s version last year, and the Panamanian outfielder never stopped hitting once the games started to count: .383/.456/.633 in 15 games in Rookie ball, then .313/.377/.559 in Low A. He hadn’t played anywhere outside of the Dominican Summer League before last year, making the performance even more impressive. He gets the bat to the ball well but his swing isn’t that efficient, with his hips and hands often out of sync, which does raise the question of exactly how good he would be if someone helps him streamline his mechanics — the answer to which would probably be a top-50 prospect in the game. Did I mention he has an 80 arm and is an average runner who should be at least a 50 defender in right? The Dodgers signed him for just $30,000 in 2018, the same year they signed Luis Rodriguez, and Ramos has blown right past his more famous teammate
Wow. Quite a list. I’m impressed. Think you can cross Pepoit and knack off your list. miller we’ll know by the end of summer. Others are 2 years away. Got to be a couple of major leaguers in that list though the historic stats say there isn’t.
I’d say half of that list will make the Majors and stay there.
Serious scoop? In the past decade the farm system has produced 2 pitchers, a catcher, a shortstop and maybe a centerfielder ( we’ll see thus summer). And you expect to see 5/6 of this group as full time major leaguers? You realize that one half the teams in the league could produce the same, exact, identical list with different names. You know better than most the difference between 21 year olds and the big leaguers.
I guess you aren’t ready to count May, Lux or Kaybear? And what about Verdugo who is a regular on the team that sent us Mookie?
Scoop May be a bit optimistic but you are under in the number of legit MkB players developed by Dodgers the last 19 years or so.
Gray traded to Nationals
Relief pitchers such as Ferguson, Gonzalez and Bruhl who should produce in future
C: Smith and Ruiz
IF: Seager, Lux, Beaty and Farmer (converted to C by Dodgers started at SS for Reds)Rios
OF Bellinger, Verdugo, Pederson, Calhoun
Not all stars but legitimate NLB players.
Right jeff. Can’t count those 3 yet. You are absolutely right about verdugo though. I forgot about him. Did I mention that our entire infield, 3/4 of our outfield and our bullpen is made up of somebody else’s prospects and we have very little on the farm and a depleted starting rotation. We can’t just keep buying z team. It will catch up to us. I can hardly wait for thus season to begin.
A few comments in response:
1) It’s very hard to build a good farm system if you continuously draft late because of your success during the season.
2) That said, most of the so-called experts on prospects feel our system is in the top third of all major league systems, with Keith Law, a former scout and front office guy, rating us #1 (I happen to think that’s slightly high).
3) Sometimes you need to use your prospect capital to trade for established or future stars from other teams. We’ve done that a few times at the deadline, to mixed success, but if your prospects bring you useful players, that says good things about your farm system.
I guess we just view prospects in general and those currently in our system differently, but hey, that’s why we all come here. To exchange thoughts and ideas.
For some perspective:
Of all those names that are on Law’s list, I only posted half of it, I’ll say definitely Cartaya, Vargas, Miller, Pepiot will make it. Busch will hit his way on somewhere. I don’t even know Vivas. Beeter and Knack could make it. I’m high on first rounder Bruns. Amaya and Leonard could find their way to the Majors. Most of these guys will likely be going somewhere else. So yeah, half, maybe more, will make it and hang around awhile.
Serious Gary? In 19 years.
Jeff I haven’t ever seen anything to suggest that #10 drafts are any better than say #25. Dodgers are kind of proof of this. You are totally right about trading prospects. I think the strength of the dodgers has not been drafting, but recognizing early when their prospects are real prospects or aren’t really prospects and trading them. Can’t think of any traded prospects that I wish were still dodgers (except alvarez and of course vungugo). True value of prospects is trading them. Think padres have just discovered this.
I’ve got one more to add to your Alvarez/Verdugo prospect list and that’s Oneil Cruz, a young shortstop we traded to the Pirates in 2017 to get Tony Watson for the stretch run.
He’s now considered one of the top 30 prospects in baseball. We had him for a year in the Dominican and a year at Great Lakes (Low A at the time) when we traded him. Not sure if we knew what we had since he had only batted .240 at Great Lakes.
19 years? I looked at last 10 and of course it’s quite rare for a player to become an MLB player in less than 3-4 unless they have 3 good years of college ball. So the last 3-4 drafts should produce some more players. My point was that Jeff might be a little too optimistic, but you are too pessimistic about the farm system. I think Keibert Ruiz will be very good, but with Smith on the roster and Cartaya on the way it made sense to trade him.
I don’t know about the “27” Yankees, but this Dodger line up is going to chew up the bottom half of the other teams pitching staffs.
From Dodgers Nation article today regarding Max Muncy and signing of Freddie Freman: The Dodgers signing Freddie Freeman opens up a lot of opportunities. Dave Roberts now has some freedom to move guys around while also giving multiple guys days off of their feet. Getting Justin Turner some time down at his age will be ideal, especially to keep him fresh for a postseason run.
But the addition of Freeman brings one small complication. The Dodgers already have a first baseman in Max Muncy, and he had been firmly cemented there. But the good news is that they seem to have a plan of attack to solve that.
Max Muncy will likely slide over to second base on days when he is not acting as the designated hitter. And from what it sounds like, Muncy is all for making that move. He played 39 games at second base in 2021, and he told the media on Thursday morning that he was excited to get more opportunities there.
Max Muncy said his favorite spot on the field is second base, but said he expects to still see some time at first and third base this year (the universal DH helps). “But as long as I can hit, that’s the thing I love doing most. That’s all that matters to me,” he said.
From an analytics standpoint, Muncy put up plus-2 defensive runs saved metric. He put up a plus-6 while playing at first base. So while he still seems to be a good second baseman, it’s down from where he would have been. The Dodgers will take that every day of the week if it means getting Freeman into the lineup
But there is buy-in, and that’s what matters most for this Dodgers team. Getting guys to play where they’re needed will be paramount to their success over the course of this season.
REPEAT: But the good news is that they seem to have a plan of attack to solve that.
Max Muncy will likely slide over to second base on days when he is not acting as the designated hitter.