It’s time for Dodgers to start planning for 2021 defense – Press Enterprise
The offseason has already begun with 147 players declared free agents the morning after the Dodgers’ first World Series celebration in 32 years. The market figures to be flooded with more free agents than ever as teams address the financial losses caused by the pandemic this year and try to plan for an uncertain revenue situation in 2021.
MLB hasn’t had back-to-back champions since the New York Yankees won three consecutive titles from 1998-2000. In that time, only two NL pennant winners have managed to defend their titles – the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008-09 and the Dodgers in 2017-18.
Here’s a look at where the Dodgers’ roster stands heading into their first offseason as defending World Series champions in 32 years:
Player … 2020 salary (total before being prorated for short season) … 2021 contract status
Clayton Kershaw … $31 million … Signed through 2021 ($31 million in 2021)
Kershaw’s mid-career evolution has been a rousing success but the specter of injury always lurks.
Pedro Baez … $4 million … Free agent
A mainstay of the bullpen – for good or bad – Baez faces an uncertain market for mid-level free agents.
Walker Buehler … $603,500 … Under club control
The Dodgers’ young ace did not handle the pandemic-shortened season well – but he was there when the Dodgers needed him in the postseason.
Kenley Jansen … $18 million … Signed through 2021 ($20 million in 2021)
Jansen’s run as the team’s closer might be over. His future role is one of 2021’s big unknowns.
Joe Kelly … $8.5 million … Signed through 2021 ($8.5 million in 2021)
Fans praised him for his pouty-lipped message to the Astros, but the Dodgers have not gotten anywhere close to their money’s worth from Kelly in the first two years of his three-year deal.
David Price … $32 million … Signed through 2022 ($32 million in 2021)
After opting out of the 2020 season, it will be interesting to see what a very well-rested 35-year-old Price will have to offer in 2021.
Jake McGee … $9.5 million … Free agent
The July pickup was very good during the regular season, but he disappeared during the postseason – which tells you where he fits in the Dodgers’ priorities.
Blake Treinen … $10 million … Free agent
Treinen was a bounceback gamble that paid off in a big way. With Jansen’s role likely downsized in the 2021 bullpen, re-signing Treinen could be a higher priority.
Dustin May … $573,500 … Under club control
May’s contributions in 2020 were based on his electric stuff. A bright future awaits if he can expand on his raw talents.
Alex Wood … $4 million … Free agent
Wood’s back-in-blue season was ruined by a shoulder injury. He could still be valuable to the Dodgers as pitching depth, however.
Jimmy Nelson … $750,000 … Free agent
The Dodgers spent $500,000 on Friday when they declined their $2 million club option on the oft-injured right-hander and paid the buyout instead. Nelson missed the 2020 season after back surgery.
Brusdar Graterol … $566,000 … Under club control
Graterol’s high-octane fastball and high-energy personality quickly made him a favorite of teammates and fans alike. But closer? Eventually maybe – but probably not in 2021.
Victor Gonzalez … $563,500 … Under club control
Gonzalez’s arrival in 2020 was a big plus for the Dodgers and figures to carry over into a bigger role in the 2021 bullpen.
Scott Alexander … $875,000 … Arbitration eligible
The market will likely be flooded by non-tender free agents this winter. Alexander could be part of the tide.
Dylan Floro … $593,500 … Arbitration eligible
Floro is a usable piece in assembling a bullpen – but he could also join Alexander on the non-tender market if the Dodgers decide to trim pennies from the payroll.
Julio Urias … $1 million … Arbitration eligible
It has been a rocky road but Urias’ postseason performance was absolutely essential to the Dodgers’ victory, forecasting bright things ahead.
Tony Gonsolin … $566,000 … Under club control
The Dodgers did not make it easy for Gonsolin in the postseason, and he will have to fight for a roster spot next spring (with rosters presumably downsized in 2021).
Adam Kolarek … $583,500 … Under club control
The death of the LOOGY did not mean the end of Kolarek’s usefulness in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Caleb Ferguson … $583,500 … Under club control
Ferguson was emerging as a valuable bullpen piece, having accepted that role, but will now miss 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Dennis Santana … $573,500 … Under club control
The Dodgers clearly see a value in Santana’s ground-ball rate, possibly making room for him in the 2021 bullpen
Will Smith … $573,500 … Under club control
Smith’s emergence as a key offensive contributor in the Dodgers’ lineup at such a young age was a big plus in 2020 and bodes well for the future.
Austin Barnes … $1.1 million … Arbitration eligible
Barnes’ offense has not been enough to earn him an every-day spot in the lineup. But every postseason, his defense seems to become critical to the Dodgers.
Keibert Ruiz … $563,500 … Under club control
Smith’s standing as one of the most offensive catchers in the National League clouds Ruiz’s future. Not trading him when his prospect status was higher might be a Dodger regret now.
Corey Seager … $7.6 million … Arbitration eligible
This is Seager’s last arb year. Negotiating a multi-year extension with the NLCS and World Series MVP before he gets to free agency has to be on the Dodgers’ offseason agenda.
Chris Taylor … $5.6 million … Signed through 2021 ($7.8 million in 2021)
The utilityman runs hot and cold, but his versatility will be even more valuable if Kiké Hernandez leaves as a free agent.
Max Muncy … $5.5 million … Signed through 2022 ($7.5 million in 2021)
A summer camp finger injury impacted Muncy’s regular season, but his importance to the Dodgers’ lineup was reaffirmed with his postseason performance.
Kiké Hernandez … $5.9 million … Free agent
Hernandez was never able to break through as an every-day player with the Dodgers. If he can find that opportunity elsewhere, the fan favorite is gone.
Justin Turner … $20 million … Free agent
His ill-advised decision to join the post-game party throws a bit of shade on a well-deserved reputation as the heart and soul of these Dodgers and a powerhouse contributor in the community – hard to imagine the Dodgers without him.
Gavin Lux … $566,000 … Under club control
2020 was a wasted year for the 2019 Prospect of the Year. That doesn’t mean it is over for him, though.
Edwin Rios … $566,000 … Under club control
Rios’ impressive power and the work ethic that improved his defense tremendously have endeared him to the Dodgers’ decision-makers and brightened his future.
Zach McKinstry … $563,500 … Under club control
McKinstry fits the mold the Dodgers love – a multi-position player with bat-to-ball skills at the plate. If Hernandez leaves, the door could open for McKinstry.
Mookie Betts … $27 million … Signed through 2032 ($27 million in 2021)
It didn’t seem possible but Betts was even better than the Dodgers could have hoped in 2020. More of the same is expected for the next decade.
A.J. Pollock … $12 million … Signed through 2022 ($15 million in 2021)
Did any Dodger have a more challenging year than Pollock, who contracted COVID-19 in the spring while his daughter, born premature, was in a neo-natal intensive care unit for four months?
Joc Pederson … $7.75 million … Free agent
A year ago, Pederson was looking forward to capitalizing on free agency. After a down season with teams in difficult financial straits, he could be headed into a cold winter.
Cody Bellinger … $11.5 million … Arbitration eligible
Bellinger’s MVP follow up was disappointing over 60 games – but it’s still in there and the multi-talented player is able to affect the game in many ways.
Matt Beaty … $573,500 … Under club control
Beaty failed to build on an outstanding 2019 and will now have to fend off the next wave of Dodger prospects in order to claim a spot on the 2021 bench.