Although many fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers wait patiently for Trevor Bauer’s fate with the team, there’s a good chance the roster will go relatively unchanged otherwise as the club heads into spring training, which is now approximately six weeks away.
Of course, there are several scenarios that could provide the Dodgers with a bit of salary relief, particularly if they find a trade partner to offset part of the $22 million they still owe Bauer.
J.D. Martinez vs. Justin Turner
One of the most intriguing signings of the offseason was veteran designated hitter J.D. Martinez. It was interesting mainly because it was one of the key indicators that the club wants to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold for the upcoming year.
By not picking up Justin Turner’s $16 million team option for 2023, the club essentially saved $6 million when they inked Martinez to a one-year, $10 million contract. Turner and Martinez’s critical numbers for 2022 were nearly identical, as Turner slashed .278/.350/.438 with 13 homers over 532 plate appearances, while Martinez hit .274/.341/.448 with 16 long balls in 596 PA.
2023 Starting Rotation
Even though the prospective 2023 roster appears quite solid, it’s not as extravagant as some of the Dodger teams we’ve seen in recent years. For the first time in several seasons, the club will likely depend on a core of young prospects who will be tested early and often, indicating their true value as the team pushes towards another playoff appearance.
We’ve talked about the starting rotation quite a bit with Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Noah Syndergaard, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May making up the core five should the injury bug stay away during the season’s early stages. Should the club stay put as far as player personnel goes, that means arms like Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Andre Jackson, Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone could be depended upon heavily as the season progresses.
As far as batting orders go, here’s something I recently dreamed up:
- Betts RF
- Vargas 3B
- Freeman 1B
- Smith C
- Muncy 2B
- Martinez DH
- Thompson CF
- Lux SS
- Taylor LF
I hesitate to say Opening Day lineup because I doubt skipper Dave Roberts will let Miguel Vargas start the season in the two-hole, but I think it’s a spot that he or Gavin Lux could settle into by the end of the season, mainly because Chris Taylor, Max Muncy or even Martinez strike out so frequently to be productive there. Vargas has shown excellent talent in the minors with bat-to-ball contact, but it could take some time to translate at the big-league level.
Coincidentally, Martinez struck out 145 times last year compared to Turner’s 89 in about 64 more at-bats.
Importance of Keeping Freddie Freeman in the 3-Hole
For as many fans who have suggested Freddie Freeman shift back to the two-hole, let’s not forget how the team caught fire when Roberts moved him back to the three-hole in late spring. Hitting in the second spot in 2022, Freeman slashed an impressive .299/.383/.480 in 373 PA. However, hitting third last year, he hit an insane .355/.433/.547 in 335 PA.
That’s a difference of about +120 points in the OPS department.
In addition, it’s probably safe to say that Roberts has finished experimenting with Mookie Betts away from the leadoff spot for similar reasons.
Anyway, hopefully everyone is having a great start to the New Year. We should know a little more about where Bauer stands when the decision comes in later this week.