In a crucial offseason where the Dodgers’ most pressing need is a catcher, and the greatest headline-grabber is Bryce Harper, the biggest news has been their talks with Cleveland for a starting pitcher. Both Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer have been strongly considered, with Yasiel Puig reported to be the main asking price from the Indians.
In-between the Bauer Wars, many on Dodgers Twitter have been equally acrimonious about the possibility of saying goodbye to Puig or another favorite player. Of course, there is always the other option to get pitching: free agency.
I should fully disclose from the start that as far as upgrading pitching is concerned, I am primarily advocating for trading first. I consider Kluber and Bauer both excellent options, although my preference would be inquiring with the Mets about Noah Syndergaard and Jacob DeGrom. (Although the former looks likely to stay in Flushing.) I also agree with the front office’s philosophy of avoiding big contracts for relievers.
That said, it’s always smart to consider all of your available options in order to make the best possible decision. My colleague Tim Rogers already evaluated some recently non-tendered position players. Here’s a quick look at a few starting and relief pitching options the team could consider.
Remember this guy? Originally a Dodgers playoff nemesis and young ace with the Cardinals, Miller’s name is better known throughout baseball as the basis of one of the worst trades in MLB history. After an All-Star season in 2015 with Atlanta, he was dealt to an Arizona team in win-now mode.
To say the least, it didn’t work out. Miller posted a 3-12 record and 6.15 ERA in 2016, with time missed due to a sprained finger. Arizona did make the postseason the following year, but Miller had nothing to do with it, seeing precious little action that year and in 2018 due to even more injuries.
I think this one is self-explanatory. He’s barely pitched in the past two years, and his name is forever synonymous with bad trades. This isn’t to say Miller doesn’t deserve a second chance. It’s just not going to happen at Chavez Ravine.
Another recent Diamondback, Boxberger came from Tampa Bay to fill the closer role for Arizona. During the team’s hot start in 2018, he was stellar, with 13 saves and a 1.77 ERA over 20? innings. However, just as the team collapsed, so did Boxberger, posting a 6.00 ERA from June 5 onwards.
Los Angeles needs to upgrade their bullpen badly, and adding a closer to turn into a setup man for Jansen is a sound idea. But Boxberger’s precipitous drop in 2018 doesn’t make him an enticing option.
One of the stronger non-tendered pitchers, Fiers was dealt from the cellar-dwelling Tigers team to an Oakland A’s team on a miraculous playoff run in 2018. Given how understaffed Oakland’s rotation was, his 5-2 record and 3.74 ERA were a huge boost. Given the A’s are my de-facto #3 team after the Dodgers and Twins, I should mention I believe he should have started the A.L. Wild Card game instead of Liam Hendriks.
Of course, Dodgers fans know him best for twirling a no-hitter against L.A. when he was with Houston in 2015. That made the 2015 Dodgers the first team since the 1971 Cincinnati Reds to be no-hit twice in the same month.
Of all the pitchers on this list, Fiers might actually be a decent option. He was crucial in keeping Oakland’s rotation steady enough to make the postseason. Ideally, though, he’d be a Paul Maholm-esque depth piece and not much more.
Shoemaker was excellent in his rookie year of 2014, with 16 wins and a 3.04 ERA to help the Angels become the winningest team in the A.L. that season. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to match it since, with limited action in 2017 and 2018 due to a forearm injury.
While I have been rooting for Shoemaker to rediscover his rookie form for awhile, the Dodgers starting rotation has enough injury concern already. There’s no point in adding someone who hasn’t pitched much recently and is coming off forearm surgery.
With Farhan Zaidi now GM of the Giants, it didn’t take long for him to signal the new direction he intends to rebuild the team with. One of those moves was non-tendering right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland, despite his 2.91 ERA over the past five seasons.
Being in his prime at age 30 and capable of throwing heat upwards of 100 MPH, Strickland should have no problem finding a suitor. Of course, there is the issue of his temper, best exemplified by punching a door after a blown save so hard he injured his hand and missed a chunk of the 2018 season as a result.
Hahahahahaha. You’re kidding, right? Strickland is almost comical in his hot-headedness, to the point of injuring himself. Despite boasting a World Series ring from 2014, he’s best known for starting a brawl with Bryce Harper, rather than beating him en route to that title. Furthermore, we all know what happens when ex-Giants drift down south. (Jason Schmidt, Brian Wilson, etc.)
This isn’t to overlook Strickland’s obvious talent, and I do feel a bit hypocritical being averse to him while being willing to accept Bauer’s acidic personality. On paper, he would be a strong 7th or 8th inning option. But if this current regime were to ever revive the ex-Giant trend of the Colletti years, they should wait for a better option that Strickland.
Would you sign any of these pitchers? What other non-tender options would you consider, if any? Let us know in the comments!
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