Trade and Free Agent Market: Dreams in Blue Heaven

Last week, we took a look at the potential 2017 roster for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Whether our predictions come to fruition has yet to be seen and will be that way for some time. What we want to do today is envision what might occur if the Dodgers do not sign any or some of their soon to be free agent players, namely third baseman Justin Turner and closer Kenley Jansen.

As difficult as the thought may be, we must remember that free agents are made to sign contracts and sometimes those contracts to play and get paid are not with your favorite team. Previously, we have looked at and analyzed whether Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen will resign with the Dodgers and at the potential cost and length of such agreements. Many will argue that the third baseman Turner and closer Jansen are must signs for the Dodgers and there are some strong arguments to do just that.

However, assuming for a moment, as often happens in life and the business of baseball, surprises and disappointments abound. Forgive us for saying so, but Turner and Jansen are free agents meaning that 29 other teams are free to make their pitch and sign them too. For arguments sake, let us assume that the Dodgers do not sign Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen.

Assuming that drastic news above, where do the Dodgers go from there for talent? Do not fret, we have some solutions based on available free agents and the trade market.

  1. Trade outfielder Yasiel Puig, pitching prospect Jordan Sheffield (no. 8), outfield prospect Alex Verdugo (no. 3), and third base prospect Edwin Rios (no. 26) to the Tampa Bay Rays for starting pitcher Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria.

The value loss in Puig is regained through the consistency of Yoenis Cespedes, see below. The Dodgers also obtain a number one starting pitcher, an ace on many teams that do not employ Clayton Kershaw, in Chris Archer. The Dodgers also fill the gap left by Justin Tuner via free agency with Evan Longoria who is also from Bellflower, California, and out hit Turner in home runs, runs batted in, and has played in at least 160 games per season since 2013. He is the same age as Turner and the consistent equally defensively-stellar third baseman the Dodgers need. He is also signed through 2023 on a very favorable team deal. Archer is signed through 2019 with two team contract options in 2020 and 2021 at a very reasonable $25 million total.  He is the same age as Clayton Kershaw, 28 years-old, and his contract includes his arbitration years.

[graphiq id=”4RFZ7f0UCsB” title=”Chris Archer 2016 Complete Pitching Splits” width=”600″ height=”763″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/4RFZ7f0UCsB” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/383/Chris-Archer” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

Sheffield was selected 36th in the 2016 Draft out of Vanderbilt University by the Dodgers and he has some tremendous upside as do Verdugo and Rios. Being that the Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has his ties to Tampa, it makes this deal all the more likely and exciting. Of course, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, and Nolan Arenado are three of the best third baseman in the league, but the haul for these players would be astronomical and prying Arenado from a division rival in the Colorado Rockies is unlikely at best. The Dodgers would be better off waiting until 2018 to sign one when Donaldson and Machado are free agents. How about a Kyle Seager trade with the Mariners to bring both brothers to Los Angeles?  Sounds amazing, but the more likely scenario is Evan Longoria to Los Angeles.

  1. Sign outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

He just opted out of his contract with the New York Mets and he is best bat on the market next to another outfielder, Mark Trumbo with the Baltimore Orioles. He also has an amazing arm. Puig may become Cespedes in four to five years when he is Cespedes’ age (31), but no guarantees there and Cespedes has proven he can perform with consistency. We would also be fine with seeing Puig stay, but Cespedes would be a huge get for Los Angeles.

  1. Trade outfield prospect Johan Mieses (no. 23) and second base prospect Willie Calhoun (no. 4) to the Baltimore Orioles for closer Zach Britton.

Speaking of the Baltimore Orioles, they are likely losing two big bats from their lineup this offseason with catcher Matt Wieters and outfielder Mark Trumbo both free agents who combined to blast 64 home runs and knock in 174 runs in 2016. The Dodgers can leverage the Orioles loss with something to gain in two prospects (Mieses and Calhoun) who combined to hit 55 homeruns and knock in 166 runs in 2016 at rookie ball and Double-A, respectively. In exchange, the Dodgers get the Orioles closer Zach Britton who just joined Kenley Jansen as the Relievers of the Year, but in the American League.

The hard-throwing lefty closer is not as flashy as Aroldis Chapman with the radar gun or noteworthy as Jansen, but he was more effective than both in 2016. He converted all 47 of his save opportunities in route to a 0.54 earned run average. The two-time All-Star is arbitration eligible this year and is a free agent in 2019, just when the Dodgers internal closer candidate Yadier Alvarez (no. 5) should be ready for The Show.

Mieses and Calhoun both had breakout seasons in 2016, but Calhoun does not have a true defensive position and would be better served in the American League where he can become a designated hitter. Furthermore, Baltimore has a history of not wanting to pay relievers in arbitration so the Dodgers will gladly pay his salary, which will be half what Jansen receives in free agency in terms of average annual value, not to mention contract length. Britton is also the second youngest closer compared to the big name relievers on the free agent market. With how much hitters struggle against left-handed pitching, adding a hard-throwing lefty closer to the bullpen only makes the Dodgers that much stronger.

  1. Sign catcher Matt Wieters.

Sounds crazy with Yasmani Grandal already under team control through 2019? Consider a few facts before dismissing the thought. Grandal, and the entire Dodgers team for that matter, had a terrible time hitting right-handed against left-handed pitching and he has nearly no power from that side of the plate. Nearly all of Grandal’s power is from the left-side where he crushes the ball.

[graphiq id=”jNSfUqpVNqd” title=”Matt Wieters Career Batting Triple Slash” width=”640″ height=”523″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/jNSfUqpVNqd” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/17520/Matt-Wieters” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

Imagine a catching platoon with the right-handed hitting and slick fielding catcher Matt Wieters going against left-handers where the two could lengthen their careers and the ability to stay on the field for a full season. Wieters can also play first base and spell Adrian Gonzalez who offense has slowed with age. The 30 year-old four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner is also insurance, albeit an expensive one, against injury to catcher Yasmani Grandal and in case Austin Barnes struggles at second base or catcher.

He is what the lineup would look like if the above trades and acquisitions occurred:

Starting lineup:

  1. Andrew Toles (RF)
  2. Austin Barnes (2B)
  3. Corey Seager (SS)
  4. Yoenis Cespedes (LF)
  5. Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
  6. Evan Longoria (3B)
  7. Yasmani Grandal (C) / Matt Wieters (C)
  8. Joc Pederson (CF)
  9. Pitcher’s spot

Starting Pitching:

  1. Clayton Kershaw (L)
  2. Chris Archer (R)
  3. Kenta Maeda (R)
  4. Julio Urias (L)
  5. Jose De Leon (R)

Bench: Matt Wieters (C), Andre Ethier (OF), Howie Kendrick (UTL), Trayce Thompson (OF), and Charlie Culberson (INF)

Bullpen: Zach Britton (Closer/LHP), Grant Dayton (LHP), Ross Stripling (RHP), Neftali Feliz* (RHP), Josh Fields (RHP), Luis Avilan (LHP), and Adam Liberatore (LHP).

To recap, the Dodgers keep their most highly-touted prospects in pitchers Jose De Leon and Yadier Alvarez as well as first baseman and outfielder Cody Bellinger. With the Dodgers signing outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and with outfielders Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles already on the roster, their outfield prospects, which there are many in the system, become expendable for major league ready players. No matter how you slice it, the above twenty-five man roster is scary good, Happy Halloween!

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Jeremy Evans

Jeremy M. Evans is the Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles.


  1. Oh I wish they could get Archer & keep Turner. I do agree that the Dodgers might let Jansen go for the pick and then sign Melancon or Chapman(another can of worms)

  2. Why would you let Turner go, give up a ton of outstanding prospects and get Evan Longoria? Longoria may have a bit more power but is only one year younger. Turner has a better glove and can play several positions. I am sorry but trades like that lead to third place finishes.

  3. Putting on my Rays hat, you want Archer and Longoria.  I have no one to play 3b unless I move Duffy over to 3b which puts me back in need of a SS AND I loose 37 home runs and around 100 RBI.  I pay attention to the stats and Rios is a horrible fielding third baseman who has only played less than half a season in AA.  No thanks on Sheffield and Puig is like a box of chocolates. We will take Verdugo, but want Chris Taylor to plays SS now, Gavin Lux for future SS, Cody Bellinger, and either Yadier Alvarez or Walker Buehler.  You think so highly of Rios, keep him and Puig.  Now for my O’s hat — LOL!  You want arguably the best closer in baseball for a Hi A OF’er and a AA second baseman who hits around .260 in AA and can’t field.  You want Britton, call back when you are serious and start the conversation with Walker Buehler Joc Pederson.

  4. Jeremy, 
    Good thinking here.  I have spent a lot of time needing out to thoughts like this.  I feel like JT isn’t going to stay because the Giants (or someone) will give him more than we will.  He’s 32 just had his best year ever, but to lock him down through 36 or 37 is really dumb (see Zach Grienke).  

    The goals I set were:
    #2 dominant starter
    Keep young talent 
    Hit LHP a lot better
    Increase Bullpen effectiveness (we were #1 in MLB last year, but let’s get better)
    Sign dominant closer to 3-4 year deal max

    I’ll admit these are crazy ideas, but so was trading Matt Kemp at the time and we have won the division each year since.

    Trade Jose DeLeon, Willie Calhoun, Ross Stripling and Cody Bellinger to the Braves for Freddie Freeman.  The Braves are wasting Freeman’s prime.  They get a current starter and a potential #1-2 in DeLeon and then as Bellinger starts to make it in the bigs, they have the new stadium.

    Trade Adrian Gonzalez, Pedro Baez, Chris Hatcher or Yimi Garcia (not both) and Alex Verdugo and $20-$24M to the A’s for Sonny Gray and Danny Valencia.

    Trade Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood and Brock Stewart to the White Sox for Chris Sale and Tyler Danish.

    Trade Omar Esteves and Jacob Rhame to the Tigers for Ian Kinsler.

    Sign Kenley.  Sign Melancon.  Sign a 3B defensive replacement for Valencia.  Barnes is #2 catcher and 2B.  Sign Rich Hill to one year incentive laden deal.  Consider Travis Wood or Boone Logan in bullpen.

    A lot of moving parts.  I don’t think I would include Urias in any of this for anyone, but might have too to get Sale.  Keep up the good work my man.

  5. Problem is the front office won’t make a splash signing or trade. They will just go after fringe players again like last year and disappoint all of us again.

  6. Keep Turner…he came off of knee sugery, started slow then caught fire…Also look at the parks he hits in compared to Fla….
    Resign Kenly, give him Ned’s bald azz head on a wall and then go after other needs…
    AZ may still wish to shed some money….but KEEP THE PROSPECTS…

  7. MikeMilligan Any particular reason your giving up more for Freeman than for Sale? Puig likely has less value than JDL or Bellinger ATM, specially in a town with small Cuban population. Like some of the ideas, but don’t see A’s taking Gonzalez unless we’re paying all the contract.

  8. For God’s sake, keep Puig!  He is one of those guys that the Dodgers like to trade just before they explode into stardom, if not at least a first rate daily player.  And sign Turner and Jansen, they have earned the Dodger’s trust and are do a fair deal to stay with the club.  Sign free agent first rate pitchers but don’t repeat another oft Dodger mistake.  Signing formerly good pitchers who are injured and have not made a comeback.  These players *never* make a comeback with the Boys in Blue.  Also look for a decent hitting catcher who is also good defensively.  Even though the Dodgers give all their outfielders a chance I think that they should pick their starters and let them get settled in and play them no matter what so that they can get their rhythm.  Joc in Center, let him get at home with hitting and Puig in right with his rifle arm.  The Dodgers most likely won’t have another record players on the DL next year and this will make Dave Roberts job much easier than it was last year.  Roberts has proven to be a good going on great manager and light years ahead of the two former American League managers that we had to suffer through before Roberts arrived.  The problem with the American League types is that they don’t know how to
    use their pitchers in the National League.  Thank goodness Dave Roberts is a Dodger and most likely will be for a long time.
    The job he did was masterful under the circumstances and he was rightly rewarded by his Manager of the Year award.  No one else even close.  Get healthy arms, starting and relieving.  But trade Biaz, seems every time I saw him he gave up runs..

  9. Bwendell82 I had Urias in the trade offer the first time, but thought we might be able to get Sale for less because Puig has so much upside, but I am reluctant to give up Urias honestly because of the Pedro Martinez trade.  I think if the A’s could get Adrian for $10M/year or less and re-stock the bullpen and get Verdugo, I think they would be open to it.  Gray is year one of arbitration so he’s going to start getting really expensive.  

    I wanted to see what others thought about the team from these trades.  Could be a pretty dynamic, LHP/RHP splits look good for bullpen and hitters.  Wild change, lose a lot of depth, but I think we could be great in 2017.  Then Kinsler and Valencia are FA’s again.  

    Hate Braun and Longoria contracts.  They are too long and expensive.

  10. Not sure why people writing for the Dodgers always think other teams are so dumb they will give us their best players for our low level prospects.

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