The annual MLB Winter Meetings begin on Sunday in San Diego, California, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are sure to be busy.
The Dodgers have multiple areas to address on their roster led by the shortstop position with Trea Turner reaching free agency. In addition, they need to add to their pitching staff and figure out their starters in center field, left field, and third base.
Although they have options for their open position spots, many of those overlap or come with significant questions.
The Dodgers have reportedly agreed to terms with Clayton Kershaw, and they announced the signing of reliever Shelby Miller, but they have also lost Tyler Anderson to the Los Angeles Angels and Chris Martin to the Boston Red Sox.
While the Dodgers will not address all their needs during the Winter Meetings, the groundwork for many deals that come later are often made during this time, and there is a high likelihood they make at least one move over the next few days.
Dodgers free agents
UTIL: Hanser Alberto
OF: Cody Bellinger
LHP: Danny Duffy
OF: Joey Gallo
LHP: Andrew Heaney
RHP: Tommy Kahnle
RHP: Craig Kimbrel
RHP: Jimmy Nelson
OF: Kevin Pillar
LHP: David Price
IF: Edwin Ríos
IF: Justin Turner
UTIL: Luke Williams
Dodgers top priorities
Find a shortstop: The top need for the Dodgers to address is the shortstop position. They have already been connected to all the premier shortstops on the market, including Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson.
They have also been connected to the top trade targets available, including Tim Anderson and Willy Adames, however, the latter is unlikely to be dealt. Furthermore, Turner reportedly agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies on an 11-year, $300 million contract.
L.A. could opt to use Gavin Lux at the position, but he has dealt with defensive troubles throughout his career.
Add to starting rotation: The Dodgers have a strong rotation in place, but they need at least one more starter, and probably two, with Walker Buehler set to miss the majority of the season at minimum, Anderson no longer on the team, and Andrew Heaney still in free agency.
The Dodgers have been connected to the top-market arms, including Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodón, and despite an initial belief they were the favorite for the 2022 American League Cy Young Award winner, he instead agreed to sign with the New York Mets.
In the farm system, the Dodgers have multiple prospects who could make an impact next season, including Ryan Pepiot, Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone, but relying on three rookies isn’t something they would ideally like to do.
Acquire an outfielder: With Cody Bellinger a free agent after being non-tendered, the Dodgers need to address their outfield. They have the versatility to add a left fielder or a center fielder, but they need to bring in at least one.
They have already been connected to Aaron Judge, Mitch Haniger and Kevin Kiermaier, and they would be wise to explore a trade for Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Among their current options to play alongside Mookie Betts are James Outman, Trayce Thompson, Chris Taylor, Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch, which gives them quality depth but a lot of question marks if two of them are relied on to start.
Address the infield:The Dodgers declined their club option on Justin Turner which created an open spot in the infield. Max Muncy may be the favorite to fill in that spot, but he would likely be better off serving as the primary designated hitter rather than creating an opening there.
The other options for the position include Vargas, Taylor and moving Lux over, which is an idea they played around with. The likely scenario is still Turner returning as the club hopes to bring him back and rotating between DH with Muncy, but it may depend on how the rest of their offseason goes and where they envision Vargas playing, who may be best off in left field despite playing third base for most of his career.
Shore up bullpen: As it always is for every team in baseball, the bullpen remains a need. Tommy Kahnle has been drawing considerable interest and may receive a deal larger than what the Dodgers are willing to pay, but they need to add at least one high-leverage arm and depth to their bullpen.
They have already been connected to Alex Reyes, and they will likely add multiple upside signings and assess the trade market for value-free agents. It is unlikely the Dodgers bring in a primary closer and will instead mix and match in the late innings.
Biggest questions for Dodgers
The offseason may be determined by if the ownership is willing to go over the luxury tax threshold once again. If they are, the Dodgers could make some significant splashes, which would include adding a top shortstop, starting pitcher, and addressing the rest of their needs with quality level players.
If they want to keep their payroll below, then they would likely just make one bigger move and fill in their other needs with value players and their prospects.
They also need to answer what to do with their young talent.
Vargas is an option at multiple positions, as is Busch, and how much they believe in Outman to take over center field may affect their overall offseason. It’s likely all of them end up playing this season if they aren’t traded, but how much do they trust them in full-time roles?
Vargas seems to have the inside track on a starting job with his versatility to play left field, third base, second base and DH, but Outman impressed in a small sample last season and plays one of their biggest positions of need.
Winter Meetings schedule
Sunday, Dec. 4: Winter Meetings begin in San Diego, California
Sunday, Dec. 4: Hall of Fame Contemporary Baseball Era voting results are announced on MLB Network at 5 p.m. PT
Monday, Dec. 5: All-MLB Team announced
Tuesday, Dec. 6: Inaugural MLB Draft Lottery, and American and National League Relievers of the Year announced
Wednesday, Dec. 7: Rule 5 Draft takes place
Wednesday, Dec. 7: Winter Meetings end
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