The Dodgers have some big decisions to make this offseason regarding their starting pitching. With Clayton Kershaw coming back for a 16th season in L.A., they have six guys who made at least six starts for the team last season: Kershaw, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, Ryan Pepiot, and Michael Grove. They also have Andre Jackson, who pitched four games in relief last year but has been a starter in the minors, plus top prospects Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone, who both finished 2022 in Triple-A and should be ready for the big leagues soon.
So they have arms available, but those nine names accounted for just 96 of their 162 starts last year. On Tuesday, word came down that All-Star Tyler Anderson wouldn’t be accepting L.A.’s qualifying offer and would instead be signing a three-year deal with the Anaheim Angels of Orange County. Anderson made 28 starts in 2022 and led the Dodgers in innings pitched, so his loss will be felt deeply from a stability standpoint even before you get to the part about him finishing fifth in the NL in ERA. He gave the team quality and quantity that will need to be replaced.
The three big names in free agency are Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, and Carlos Rodon, and each has his pros and cons. Rodon would likely be the cheapest per year but command the longest deal as the youngest of the bunch. Verlander and deGrom are both likely looking for shorter deals but a ton of money per year. And Rodon and deGrom have qualifying offers attached to them, meaning the Dodgers would lose two draft picks and $1 million in international bonus money if they were to sign either of them.
Justin Verlander to the #Dodgers became more realistic based on today's events.
Specifically, Tyler Anderson rejected the Dodgers' QO; and signing Verlander would not involve the loss of a pick, whereas Jacob deGrom would.
Credit to @Ken_Rosenthal for linking JV and LAD.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 15, 2022
When we’re talking about stability, though, none of those three is a great bet. Rodon was outstanding in 2022, but it was just the second time in his eight-year career he’s pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. DeGrom has been probably the best pitcher in baseball over the past five seasons, but he’s made just 26 starts in the past two years combined. And Verlander is about to win his third Cy Young Award but missed basically all of 2020 and 2021 with Tommy John surgery and will turn 40 right around the time he reports to spring training.
Kodai Senga is coming over to MLB from Japan and looks like a promising mid-rotation starter. Corbin Burnes and others could be available on the trade market. There are definitely moves to be made if the Dodgers choose.
The thing to remember with free agency, though, is that if we’d had this discussion a year ago, Anderson’s name never would have even come up, and not only did the Dodgers sign him, but it turned out to be the best signing of the offseason. So there very well could be some less expensive free agents the L.A. front office is eyeing that won’t make big headlines but could be huge moves. Someone like Taijuan Walker, Zach Eflin, or Jordan Lyles could come into the Dodgers Pitching Factory and end up an All-Star just like Anderson did.
In the past, the Dodgers have made huge splashes in free agency with starting pitchers, and maybe they will again this year. The one thing we know for sure is they’re committed to winning and will do what it takes.
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