It has been quite some time since the Dodgers’ lineup has looked balanced on paper. Left-handed hitting has dominated the news cycle for the past few years and continues to be the theme in free agency. Yet, despite the groans and moans for Bryce Harper to Los Angeles, things appear to be changing.
Sources: #Dodgers continue discussing Corey Kluber with #Indians and also are interested in #Tigers outfielder Nick Castellanos, on whom the price tag is high. Latest story: https://t.co/IpStB5CGB6 @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 23, 2018
With the idea to balance the lineup after trading away Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, there are potentially several names that could fill the void left by the Wild Horse’s departure. Here are three of the biggest names in trade rumors:
Look, I get it. Dodgers fans don’t exactly have a love affair with Machado after his playoff run. Machado slashed a below average 273/338/487 in his regular season time in LA. He also hit just 227 in the 2018 playoffs but did go deep three times. He also had a few unfortunate incidents on plays at first base and had the bad luck of being the final out of the World Series. So yeah, I get why fans might not want to pay him.
But the fact of the matter is that he may be one of the best options on the market right now. Machado was ninth in the entire league with a wRC+ of 141 on the season, as the only shortstop in the top ten. He also has a DRC+ of 143, making him the 11th best hitter in the league by that metric. There may not be a whole lot of room in the infield for him, but he’s the type of talent you make room for.
The more I look at this one, the more it makes sense to me. Castellanos may be a bit overpriced in this market, but the Dodgers should absolutely look at him as a viable replacement bat. Although he has just the 2019 season left before free agency, Castellanos’ production over the past three years makes him worth the cost.
Sine 2016, he is hitting 277/325/493 and averaging about 22 home runs a year. His OPS+ in that time span measured at +121, roughly seven points better than Yasiel Puig in those three years. If you want to measure their wRC+, Puig was at 123 last year while Castellanos was at 130. They are essentially the same profile of player on paper, and Castellanos is projected to make about the same money. So what would be the reasoning for trading Puig in the first place? We’ll have to see what they do with the Reds’ prospects they got.
This guy makes the list because he fits the mold of the type of player Los Angeles loves. A utility guy that can play all over the diamond and become an instant impact bat. His numbers last year don’t exactly jump out at you, but his 2017 numbers are eye-popping. He hit 304/377/530 with 23 long balls in the Astros’ World Series run.
The issue with Gonzalez will inevitably be his monetary demands. Most sites out there have him projected to make an annual average right around the value of a qualifying offer. Personally, I think he will take a three year and 50+ million dollar contract whenever he does sign. Is he worth it? Probably not if you’re basing it off his 2018 numbers. But boy wouldn’t it be something if he could get to his 2017 form? Worth at least a thought.
I think I am one of the very few who believe Bryce Harper will not be coming to Los Angeles. Would it be nice? Absolutely. I just do not see Harper taking less money to play out west, nor do I see the Dodgers’ front office backing up the semi-truck full of cash to make a deal happen.
Realistically, I think we will see a deal like one of these guys listed above. Deals that don’t exactly sell the season tickets at an unprecedented rate, but ultimately deals that make the team better. That’s the Friedman way, and it’s what has gotten us to the World Series back-to-back years. Now, let’s see if his magic can take us that one extra step.
Merry Christmas y’all, it’s been a pleasure covering baseball with you this year.
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