Updated: December 17, 2019
After seeing their championship drought extended to 31 years this October, the Los Angeles Dodgers rumors are flying as they enter the offseason facing mounting pressure to bring in elite talent and a World Series parade to the city.
Fortunately for Los Angeles, there is more All-Star talent available this offseason than in years past. Whether president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman wants to pursue it in free agency or via trade, this winter is the perfect time to strike.
The Dodgers have one of the most talent-rich farm systems in baseball. It’s an asset that allows them to land an MVP-caliber player for their lineup. Los Angeles is also flush with money to spend on another elite hitter or pitcher, which can be so critical in October.
In an offseason with so many marquee players available, the Dodgers are connected to plenty of them. Let’s take a look at the latest news and Dodgers rumors out of Los Angeles, then highlight a few moves Friedman can make to win a ring in 2020.
Los Angeles Dodgers rumors and news
Dodgers, Red Sox discussing Mookie Betts trade
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Dodgers have discussed a deal to land All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox.
While the talks are just exploratory right now, Los Angeles could pivot its focus to Betts if it can’t find a deal it likes for Francisco Lindor. Betts, who is projected to make nearly $28 million in his final year of arbitration, is on the trade block in Boston. The AL MVP on 2018, he hit 29 home runs with a .915 OPS and 16 stolen bases season with the Red Sox. If acquired, he’d provide Los Angeles with an MVP-caliber bat in its lineup and a four-time Gold Globe Award winner in the outfield.
Dodgers remain in the mix for Josh Donaldson
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Los Angeles remains in the mix for the All-Star third baseman. However, as Rosenthal notes, many teams believe he ends up with the Washington Nationals on a four-year deal.
The 34-year-old would certainly add a powerful right-handed bat to the Dodgers. He drilled 37 homers with 100 walks, 94 RBI and a .900 OPS in 2019 with the Atlanta Braves. Signing him would allow Los Angeles to shift Justin Turner to first base or use him in an infield utility role. Of course, the team’s desire to stick to short-term deals with older players likely means the two sides won’t reach an agreement.
Los Angeles Angeles could be a fit for Rockies All-Star Nolan Arenado
It would take a massive haul. Arenado is one of the best players in baseball, a Gold-Glove defender at the hot corner with an MVP-caliber bat at the plate. He’s also under contract for seven years and $234 million, though with an opt-out clause after 2021. If the Dodgers are willing to pay the price, Arenado will be a championship-caliber addition.
The Dodgers were connected to Treinen the moment he was non-tendered by the Oakland Athletics. Now, the match everyone saw coming is here with both sides agreeing to a one-year, $10 million deal.
The 31-year-old is coming off a disastrous season. He posted a 4.91 ERA with an egregious 5.68 BB/9 and five blown saves. However, he’s just a year removed from an All-Star season with a 0.78 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. He ranked in the 87th percentile in fastball velocity in 2019 and above the 90th percentile in strikeout rate, velocity and hard-hit rate in 2018, per Daren Willman. All of the tools are there, Los Angeles needs to just help him put it all back together and it will have an elite set-up man.
Andrew Friedman: Team has zeroed in on “roughly” 12 potential elite talent acquisitions
Speaking to reporters on the first day of the winter meetings, Friedman indicated that the team is targeting around 12 players who could be upgrades for the team. While a few are relievers, the majority of the players are considered elite talents.
Of course, a majority of the elite free-agent options are now off the board. After striking out on top targets, the Dodgers could shift their focus to Hyun-Jin Ryu or Donaldson. Given Friedman’s statement isn’t specific to free agents, outfielders Starling Marte, Mookie Betts and Charlie Blackmon, along with shortstop Francisco Lindor, could be among the targets.
Dodgers interested in re-signing Hyun-Jin Ryu
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Los Angeles is interested in bringing Ryu back, in addition to exploring the higher-end pitchers. Ryu, who is coming off a career-best season, is positioned to cash in this offseason.
The 32-year-old surpassed 180 innings for the first time since ’13 and 130-plus innings since ’14. While injuries have prevented him from consistently staying in the rotation, and his routine between starts is atypical, he has a 2.21 ERA in his last 265 innings. A two-year deal could work for both sides, though, Ryu might find a longer deal elsewhere.
Los Angeles rebuffing calls on Gavin Lux
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Dodgers received calls on Lux and promptly rejected them. While you can’t blame other teams for trying, there’s almost no scenario where Los Angeles entertains moving him.
The 22-year-old infielder ranks as MLB.com’s No. 2 overall prospect and he’s proven he’s ready to start in 2020. He’ll become a 25-25 player for the Dodgers shortly and will be a Rookie of the Year candidate next season. Los Angeles will certainly take calls on other prospects, but Lux is staying.
A.J. Pollock, Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernández available for trade
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Dodgers are making several contributors from the 2019 season available. While Pollock may not generate much interest – durability issues, bad contract and poor play – Hernández and Pederson will attract attention.
Pederson offers massive, left-handed power, as he showed last season with 36 home runs. He’s also under contract for only more season, which could make the corner outfielder more affordable for the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox. Meanwhile, Hernández is a one-year rental with the versatility to play every position on the field and hit for pop.
Mookie Betts and Kris Bryant would certainly look great in Los Angeles, but both come with risks in a potential trade. If the Dodgers want to make a monumental move, they know it means landing Lindor.
While Betts is projected to make $27.7 million in his final season of arbitration, Lindor is arbitration-eligible for the next two years. Meanwhile, he plays a more valuable position than Bryant and comes with less durability concerns. It won’t be easy to convince Cleveland to move its star, but the Dodgers have the pieces to do it.
Los Angeles shows preliminary interest in Korean LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers have some interest in another Korean left-handed pitcher. Kim, who was posted this winter by SK Wyverns, dominated in the KBO league last season with a 2.51 ERA and 180/38 K/BB ratio over 190.1 innings.
The 31-year-old played in the KBO for 12 seasons. He nearly came to MLB in 2014, before being unable to reach an agreement with the San Diego Padres and returning to South Korea. Kim’s repertoire features a low-90s fastball with an excellent slider, according to scouts. He has the potential to be a back-end starter. Ultimately, the Dodgers will focus on higher-end options with more certainty.
Hot Stove predictions
Swing a blockbuster trade for Francisco Lindor
Lindor is the best player that could be acquired this offseason. While Cleveland might be clinging to him right now with a desire to move him next year, the 2019 offseason is the only time for them to get maximum value.
It’s precisely the argument Friedman can make. Los Angeles’ outstanding wealth across its MLB and MILB rosters can give the Indians plenty to choose from. The Dodgers can package right-handed pitcher Dustin May, their No. 2 prospect, with catching prospect Keibert Ruiz as the headliners of the deal and add in lower-ranked prospects for depth.
Ruiz is expendable for the Dodgers, given the development of Will Smith. Meanwhile, pitching prospects Josiah Gray and Tony Gonsolin allow the front office the wiggle room to move May. Lindor is an MVP-caliber player whose impact justifies the cost. While it might mean moving Corey Seager to third base, or trading him, this is the type of deal that can bring the World Series trophy to Los Angeles.
Re-sign Hyun-Jin Ryu to two-year, $46 million deal
If the price on Madison Bumgarner goes past a comfortable range for Los Angeles, the front office should move quickly on Ryu. He’s a proven player whose innings can be managed with the team’s pitching depth.
While $23 million per season might seem high given his durability issues, a two-year deal limits the risk. Ryu would be with a team he knows, could step in as a No. 4 starter and Los Angeles would have an outstanding rotation once again, without sacrificing the team’s long-term payroll flexibility.
Trade Joc Pederson to Cincinnati
Both teams are just a year removed from another trade involving an outfielder, so what better time to commemorate it than with a new deal this winter. The Reds need a corner outfielder who could boost their run production, something the Dodgers would happily offer.
While Los Angeles would love to bolster its bullpen, Cincinnati would keep Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias given Pederson is a rental. Instead, the Dodgers strengthen their farm system with right-handed pitching prospect Vladimir Gutierrez.
While the 24-year-old recorded a 6.04 ERA in Triple-A last season, he offers mid-rotation upside if he can consistently command his pitches. Gutierrez, paired with another prospect, would give L.A. more players to develop rather than lose Pederson next offseason for nothing.
Bolster bullpen in deal for Edwin Díaz
Los Angeles had interest in Díaz from the moment the Mets made him available to the final hours before MLB’s trade deadline. You can bet Friedman will make the call again. Perhaps, this time, he can convince Brodie Van Wagenen.
It will almost certainly cost the Dodgers players from its MLB roster, which shouldn’t be a problem. Packaging starting pitcher Ross Stripling, who could immediately slide into the Mets rotation, along with outfielder DJ Peters, could get it done.
Once in Los Angeles, with a far better coaching staff than he had last year in New York, Díaz could regain his form as an All-Star closer. He could step in if Jansen struggles or be the best set-up man in baseball.
Losing the World Series in two consecutive years is bad, but this fan base is more enraged than ever after the team’s first-round exit. Friedman needs to make a big move and whether it’s signing Bumgarner or trading for Díaz and Lindor or Arenado, something needs to happen this offseason.
Lindor immediately gives this team a new spark at the top of the lineup. Behind him, Turner has consistently shown he can get on base at a high rate and hit for power. The two set the table beautifully for Bellinger, coming off an MVP season, with Muncy’s left-handed bat behind him.
|1||Francisco Lindor (Projected)||SS|
Smith proved after the All-Star Break that he deserves the starting nod for 2020. Lux, who the team could experiment using in the outfield during the spring, will need to earn a higher spot in the batting order. Of course, this lineup changes if the team acquires Lindor and keeps Seager into the season.
On the pitching side, Los Angeles’ rotation looks the same as it did in ’19. It proved to be enough to push this team to the NL’s best record and would be among the best in the majors. The bullpen, however, will be different.
|Edwin Díaz (Projected)||RP|
Díaz gives skipper Dave Roberts another trusted weapon in tight situations, something that would hopefully allow him to stop repeating the same mistakes we saw in past postseasons.
It also gives the Dodgers the option to pull Jansen from the closer role if he struggles, which they’ve rarely had the option to do before. The added competition could also spark something in Jansen and perhaps bring out his elite form once again.
This is a team that can win the World Series. While it will cost prospects and some money, it’s a far more cost-efficient option than giving a seven-year contract worth $250-plus million to one player. That additional flexibility could allow Friedman to keep making moves and give this team even more depth for the lineup and bullpen.