It’s that time of year when people are in the giving spirit, kids have sent their letters to Santa hoping to land on the nice list, and families and friends come together to celebrate the holidays.
Normally, the final weeks of December provide a break to MLB clubs and player agents from negotiations. That rings all the more true this winter due to the MLB lockout.
Once a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is in place, the Los Angeles Dodgers will need to get to work in filling out their roster.
Dodgers holiday wish list
No. 1: New CBA
The first thing on the list is a new collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the Players Association. Without one, nothing else can get done.
Negotiations are not expected to resume until 2022 and an agreement likely won’t come until a month before Spring Training, but we are asking Santa to help them get it done sooner.
Hopefully, a deal also includes the universal designated hitter, which would be of benefit to the Dodgers more than most other National League teams.
No. 2: Clayton Kershaw
The Dodgers’ top need is to fill out their starting rotation, and Clayton Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher available on the market. A reunion makes all the sense in the world.
While the franchise legend might not be the best pitcher in baseball like he once was, Kershaw is still an ace-caliber talent and what he means to the organization is worth just about any contract.
Kershaw is reportedly deciding between re-signing with the Dodgers or going home to the Texas Rangers.
No. 3: Freddie Freeman
The Dodgers could use a left-handed bat to replace Corey Seager, who signed with the Rangers, and Freddie Freeman is the best available.
It was widely considered a lock the star first baseman would return to the Atlanta Braves but they did not even offer him a contract prior to the lockout. That reportedly has caused Freeman to grow impatient and could lead to his departure from their organization.
Signing Freeman would allow the Dodgers to play Max Muncy at second base and give them one of the deepest lineups in baseball. Freeman is also one of the most universally liked players in MLB and would fit perfectly in Dodger Blue.
No. 4: Kenley Jansen
The Dodgers have a need in the back of the bullpen, which they can fill that by re-signing their all-time saves leader.
Kenley Jansen had a rough few seasons from 2018-20 but rebounded in 2021 to show he is still one of the top closers in baseball.
Jansen has spent his entire career with the Dodgers and should finish his career with them. He reportedly would like to return, but it would likely be on a hometown discount if he does.
No. 5: Carlos Rodón
The Dodgers already added Andrew Heaney and hopefully will retain Kershaw, but their rotation would still be lacking a suitable replacement for Max Scherzer, who signed with the New York Mets.
Carlos Rodón had a fantastic season for the Chicago White Sox but faded down the stretch. That led to the White Sox declining to extend a qualifying offer, making Rodón a free agent.
The southpaw has also been limited by injuries, but the Dodgers have never passed on great talent for that reason before, similar to Rich Hill.
He is a former top prospect who showed he still has elite talent when right. If the Dodgers limit Rodón innings during the season, he could be a massive part of them winning another title in 2022.
He also isn’t expected to revive a massive, long-term deal like most pitchers with his talent would command.
No. 6: Seiya Suzuki
Outfielder Seiya Suzuki was posted by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Nippon Profesional Baseball and the Dodgers have shown interest.
Signing Suzuki only truly makes sense if the universal DH is implemented or they miss out on Freeman, but the 27-year-old has a ton of potential with an elite arm and great power.
They could play Suzuki in left field while AJ Pollock becomes the DH, or vice versa. If L.A. really wanted to be creative, Mookie Betts could play more second base, which might help keep him healthier.
Either way, the Dodgers have the versatility to fit almost anyone into their lineup.
No. 7: Contract extension for Dave Roberts
The final thing on their wish list is a contract extension for manager Dave Roberts.
You can criticize some of his in-game decisions, but you can’t deny Roberts has been a great leader in the clubhouse, which is the most important role of the manager.
There have been many talented teams who have fallen apart because their skipper wasn’t up to the task of managing the egos of players or developing good relationships with the team, but that is never something to worry about with Roberts.
Players seem to like playing for him, which matters in contract negotiations and he can continue to learn to become a better decision-maker in games. But it’s important to remember all managers will make questionable decisions because it is a tough job.
Roberts also has the fifth-highest win percentage in MLB history, which a lot of credit goes to his talented teams, but he is on pace to become a Hall of Fame manager.
The upcoming season is the final year of Roberts’ deal and the Dodgers expect to have extension talks with him, but they also wouldn’t have an issue if they can’t work something out prior to the season.
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