The Los Angeles Dodgers are at the point where they will have some big decisions to make over how their team looks next season. It’s been a very successful period for the club – they’ve won division titles, also breaking their 32-year World Series absence this year.
It was hoped that they would have repeated after winning it all last season but the dream ended with a 4-2 Game 6 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series on the weekend. The Braves and Houston Astros will square off for gold in a seven-game World Series that begins on Tuesday, and fans could check out a Fanduel review to that end.
The Dodgers are unlikely to have financial issues moving forward as they had a payroll of $267 million this year yet they could have trouble securing their squad members who are at the end of their contracts and they might not be able to bring everyone back.
Let’s take a look at the team’s upcoming free agents and their situations.
Left-handed star Clayton Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher in Dodgers history and he’s likely to be a top priority for the team. Kershaw went 10-8 with an ERA of 3.55 before his season was cut off by injury on October 1st.
While he’s not the pitcher he used to be, he can still produce on a high level. The veteran expects to be ready for spring training but just had a PRP injection on his left forearm.
The Dodgers will certainly look for ways to keep him around but the choice will be his. Kershaw can opt to come back on a year-to-year deal or head elsewhere. Retirement is an option, of course, yet that’s quite unlikely. The 33-year-old reiterated numerous times that he would only consider his future at the end of the season. The Dodgers are there now.
Los Angeles knew they were taking a huge risk in going for Max Scherzer.
Performance-wise, Scherzer exceeded expectations; the risk was in the longevity of their relationship. The Dodgers put it all on the line when they traded for Scherzer and Trea Turner at the trade deadline as they sent top prospects in Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray to the Washington Nationals, as well as two other players.
Scherzer is now a free agent and will have lots of options heading into the offseason but the pitcher was keen on joining the Dodgers at the trade deadline and it is believed that he wants to remain on the West Coast. The interest between team and player is reportedly mutual. However, the latter will be costly.
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Seager has been groomed into becoming one of the MLB’s best shortstops by the Dodgers and was named both NLCS and World Series MVP last season. He is sure to get a huge bag during the offseason.
The team could bring him back on a big deal but that could mean sacrificing other free agents. The player, though, has said he wants to continue his career with the team.
“I grew up here. I’ve spent a lot of time here,” he said after Game 6. “I believe in what these guys do. I believe in how we go about it.”
Jansen is coming off a monster season, having made 38 saves on the back of questions relating to whether he would be the Dodgers’ closer during spring training. The speculation was warranted as he had shown inconsistency in previous campaigns but he’s shown he has what it takes.
He’s likely going to be the top closer on the market, having made $20 million this year.
“I’m thankful to be here for all these years,” the right-hander said. “This is the only team I know. They believed in me when I was 17 years old. … I’ve enjoyed this journey and I always say, “Whatever happens, I’m proud to be a Dodger and I’ll always be a Dodger.”
Kelly was another player who found form for the Dodgers this season after a couple of disappointing campaigns. He’s gone on to become one of the best receivers in the team and Los Angeles will have a tough decision to make due to his showing this year.
The right-hander has a $12 million player option for 2022. The Dodgers have the option of declining it and bringing him back for less but they will run the risk of him signing elsewhere.
While he isn’t one of the biggest players heading into free agency, Chris Taylor is a huge presence in the clubhouse and is highly rated by the team. The utility man made his first All-Star Game this season and was also handed the Dodgers’ Roy Campanella Award, an accolade given to the player voted the best example of spirit and leadership by players and uniformed staff.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” the 31-year-old said. “I’ve loved every minute of being a Dodger. I have no idea what’s going to happen this offseason. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to play for the Dodgers.”
Taylor is due a neat raise after making close to $8 million this season.
The future Hall of Famer’s season with the Dodgers certainly went a lot better than expected and it remains to be seen what he decides during the offseason. The 41-year-old would not confirm or deny having played his last season in the MLB.
Corey Knebel has reinstated himself as a top reliever following years of tending to injuries. He proved he could be relied upon while healthy and, should the Dodgers bring him back, it won’t be on the cheap.