Happy holidays and happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate! As Dodgers news takes a break for the holiday season, we figured it was time to bring back a long-time staple of Dodgers Nation… the DN roundtable!
Today, we are preparing our list for black Friday shopping. With a Dodgers twist!
Here’s the setup: the Dodgers have holes to fill and areas to address around the roster. In the spirit of the holiday shopping season, I asked our staff here at Dodgers Nation what player they would like to see the team sign for the 2023 season.
The caveat, it can’t be any of the big name free agents.
No Aaron Judge, no Trea Turner, no Jacob deGrom. We’re looking at the players a tier below that could possibly be signed at a cheaper price. Basically, no one from this list.
Who is on our black Friday shopping list?
I’ll lead it off.
Right off the bat, the Dodgers need to add some innings to the starting rotation following the loss of Tyler Anderson. Clayton Kershaw will be another year older in 2023 and Walker Buehler will not factor into the rotation plans until 2024 following Tommy John surgery.
That said, I like the idea of an An Andrew Heaney-esque deal with free agent right-hander, Zach Eflin. Signing Eflin would not exclude the team from signing or trading for any other ace-level pitcher this offseason. The idea is to get him into the Dodgers’ magic pitching factory with Mark Prior and company and try to get 120-140 quality innings out of him while the club continues to bring up the next wave of talent from the minor leagues.
With Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, Zach Eflin, Michael Grove, Ryan Pepiot, Gavin Stone, and Bobby Miller all in the rotation mix, depth might not be as much of a challenge over the course of a 162 game season.
I’d love to see the Dodgers sign Donovan Solano. He’s not a starter by any means, but he could potentially be what LA thought they were getting in Hanser Alberto last year, a versatile defender who hits lefties well and can come off the bench in key situations. He won’t replace Hanser’s production on the mound, but at the plate and in the field, he should be a step forward from what Alberto provided in 2022.
Give me Noah Syndergaard. He hasn’t been as dominant since he had Tommy John surgery in 2020, but he appeared to be one of baseball’s best pitchers just a few years ago. His best season came in 2017, when he had a 2.60 ERA, a 2.29 FIP and struck out 218 batters. We saw what Mark Prior did with Tyler Anderson (turning him into an All-Star) and Andrew Heaney last year. Imagine what he could do with a former All-Star with dominant stuff like Syndergaard.
He’ll also come at a fraction of the cost of Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom.
Don’t expect the multi-time Cy Young Award-winning version of Corey Kluber at this stage of his career, but the 3x All-Star hurler is more than capable of being a serviceable middle to back-of-the-rotation arm that can provide value as a veteran innings eater that could help round out the rotation if LA is unable to land another starter through free agency or via trade.
While his velocity has diminished significantly in recent years, Kluber’s elite walk rate (3.0 BB%), chase rate, and ability to induce soft contact make him a very intriguing option for teams looking to land a quality starter on a one-year deal in the $12 Million range. With his more than respectable 3.57 FIP and 3.85 SIERA, Kluber could be the Dodgers’ next lower-risk, higher-value starting pitcher signing.
Danny Mendick. The White Sox decided to non-tender him after the season while he’s in the middle of rehabbing an ACL injury. But before his injury, he was having one of his best seasons. In 97 plate appearances in 2022, Mendick slashed .289/.343/.443, good for a 125 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR, and .786 OPS.
Although it might be a little bit of a risk as he’s still coming back from injury and hasn’t played a game since mid-June, with Trea and Justin Turner possibly leaving, the Dodgers could use some help in the infield. In 446 career major league plate appearances, the 29-year-old has hit .251/.309/.366 and could be a hidden gem among a deep field of free agents.
Kevin Kiermaier: In the hopes of the Dodgers giving more money and attention to a pitcher or shortstop replacement, a player the Dodgers may want to consider to replace Cody Bellinger could be Kevin Kiermaier. The center fielder has similar struggles to Bellinger, but being 32 years old and still playing elite defense in center field will provide a cheaper, yet serviceable, option for the Dodgers as they look for improvements in more pronounced positions.
The player on my Black Friday list is Brandon Drury. The Dodgers were in on him at the trade deadline and came up short as the San Diego Padres landed the 30-year-old.
I would love to see the Dodgers re-sign Kevin Pillar! With Cody Bellinger not likely to return, LA could use some extra hands in the outfield; I say the Dodgers go with a piece within the system like a Kevin Pillar, who will probably sign a team-friendly deal and allow you to splash some cash on some other team needs. I think he can be a piece of the outfield puzzle as the Dodgers continue to fill all their needs. So I say like that one Jackson 5 song goes, “ohh, baby, give me one more chance (to show you that I love you)” the Dodgers should give my bro Kevin Pillar one more chance.
Those are our thoughts, let us know yours in the comments below! And give the team a follow on social, if you feel so inclined.
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