Should Dodgers Try to Extend Julio Urias?

Aside from bringing back veteran utility infielder Miguel Rojas, not much has happened on the Los Angeles Dodgers player personnel front since the team officially bounced Trevor Bauer from the roster last week.

Although the club is on the hook for the approximately $22.5 million of Bauer’s 2022 salary, all indications are that the team will attempt to stay under the luxury tax threshold for the upcoming season. A move last week that somewhat affected the budget was an agreement on a one-year, $14.25 million deal with starter Julio Urias, allowing the 26-year-old lefty to avoid the arbitration process in his final season before free agency.

We really haven’t heard anything concrete regarding serious extension talks between the Dodgers and the Mexican native, which you might consider surprising depending on how you look at it. Nevertheless, with Clayton Kershaw on the downside of one of the MLB’s most prolific careers, and Walker Buehler having to sit out the upcoming year due to UCL surgery, there’s no question that Urias will play the role of Dodgers Ace for 2023, at least for the early part of the season.

Urias has been nothing but stellar since recovering from a serious shoulder surgery procedure that saw him miss the entirety of the 2018 season. Even though he surprisingly has never made an All-Star team, he ended up finishing in the Top 10 Cy Young Award voting the last two campaigns, including a third-place finish last year.

Although Urias has been an iron man as far as the Dodgers’ starting standards go — 185-2/3 innings in 2021 and 175 innings in 2022 — it was his lack of innings pitched that saw him finish behind Max Fried and winner Sandy Alcantara in the CYA voting last season.

Regardless, last year was undoubtedly the best campaign of Urias’s career, having produced a 0.960 WHIP and an NL-leading 2.16 ERA and a 194 ERA+ over 31 starts.

A few seasons back, it looked like the game was beginning to steer away from a traditional five-man rotation where each guy would throw his heart out each night. However, the Dodgers have been one of the few who have stuck with the traditional starting pitching concept, even though Los Angeles pitchers are seemingly throwing fewer innings as each year passes by.

In 2022, Urias averaged 5.65 innings pitched per game over his 31 starts.

The upcoming season has one of those feelings that the daily lineup at the end of the regular season might be a bit different than the batting order we see at the beginning of the year. Accordingly, the starting rotation could have a similar fate. However, it’s tough to imagine any pitcher on the current roster replacing Urias as an ace if he pitches anything like he did over the past two years.

If Urias ends up staying healthy and contending for another Cy Young, he could end up with a ridiculously high contract next year, especially if he hits the free agent market at a still very young age of 27.

12 thoughts on “Should Dodgers Try to Extend Julio Urias?

    1. Waited to long, there is no advantage for him to negotiate with LA only. This strategy works if the team offers well above arbitration numbers for multiple years. This gives the player above market money early and limits above market rates in their prime. It’s how Atlanta locks up their talent early.

  1. Yes, but not yet. If he is willing to sign for X million dollars, he’s just as likely to sign for that later as now. Signing him later gives the Dodgers more time to assess his arm health and motivation to stay hungry after becoming a multimillionaire. There is no science to the answer, just multiple probabilities.

  2. Yes, I am old and old school and Dennis I enjoy your posts but I chuckled to myself at the iron of the rotation comment with 185 2/3 innings. The Dodgers 4 man rotation in 1966 averaged 265 innings per man. Koufax, Drysdale, Osteen and Sutton (225 2/3 as a rookie). Times have sure changed. And yes Koufax and Drysdale had early retirements but also did not have the benefit of today’s modern surgeries.
    Spring training in about a month!

  3. Yes, I would like to see Urias extended. He’s been very healthy since that surgery of a few years ago. Something like 4 years and $100M?

    1. Gary, if you could get Urias to sign for 4 years/100 mil, every team in MLB would be happy to offer you a job as their GM.

      There’s been a lot of talk on the internet the last few days about extending Julio but the numbers I’ve seen range from 200 to 300 million.

      Assuming he stays healthy and Boras advises him to not sign an extension but to go into free agency and let a bunch of teams bid on him (including the Mets who will pay exorbitant prices), I’m guessing he gets at least 200 million.

      He’s still going to be very young so I can’t see him settling for anything less than 8-10 years.
      Rodon just signed for 6/162 which is 27 million per year on average. He’s 4 years older than Julio.
      If we go 8 years and the same 27 million, that works out to 216 million.

      Assuming, Urias goes through 2023 healthy, I would guess that at a minimum, the following teams would be interested in signing him: Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Giants, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs.

      I just don’t see any way that he settles for a 4 year contract.

      If I’m wrong, you can call me on it and rake me over the coals.

  4. Boros is Julio’s agent, he very rarely lets his clients sign extensions, it’s happened a few times, but not many. Therefore I seriously doubt AF will be able to extend him, before his free agency, unless it is a very player friendly contract ( a lot of money, long contract, with multiple player opt outs)

  5. You could also say where is the loyalty from the organization to the player, look what the Dodgers just did with Justin Turner.

  6. But I’m on your side Gary, I’d love to see the team extend Urias, it would be nice to have him in the rotation for a long time.

  7. Sure, loyalty goes both ways but do we know what discussions took place with JT? Was he offered less based on a reduced roll given his age and erosion of skills and he wanted more $ and a full time position? When a player gets to that age the decisions certainly become harder. I would have been happy enough to see him at DH an occasionally at 3B. It almost always comes down to $$$ on one side or the other.

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