The Los Angeles Dodgers managed to win a fourth consecutive National League West title this season, becoming the first team to accomplish the feat in division history. Led by rookie manager Dave Roberts the Dodgers advanced to the NL Championship Series for the first time since 2013.
They finished two wins shy of reaching the World Series, and now head into another offseason with key contributors on the verge of reaching free agency. Last year the primary focus was on Zack Greinke and his eventual decision to opt out of the remaining three years and $71 million on his contract.
This winter, the bulk of the Dodgers’ attention figures to be placed on Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. In total, Los Angeles has nine players on track to reach free agency after the World Series concludes.
Two players have options on their contracts, and several remain under contract for next season, and in some instances, beyond.
Players under contract
Players who are both on the 40-man roster and under contract for at least 2017 are: Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Yasiel Puig, Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Of this group, Kershaw and Maeda have the most remaining years on their contracts with the Dodgers, signed through 2020 and 2023, respectively. Though, Kershaw can opt out after the 2018 season.
But by doing so he would leave $65 million on the table over two years. Ethier has a vesting option on his contract for 2018, which also includes a $2.5 million buyout. Aside from Ethier’s circumstances, only Kendrick is not signed beyond next season.
While Puig has two more years remaining on his deal, he has accrued enough Major League service time to opt for salary arbitration this winter. However, given his down year, it’s difficult to imagine arbitration netting him more than the $6.5 million his contract calls for in 2017.
Not on the 40-man roster but also under contract: Erisbel Arruebarrena, Dian Toscano and Yaisel Sierra. Arruebarrena and Toscano are signed through 2018, while Sierra is under contract until after the 2021 season.
Arruebarrena signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba and to this point has been more of a headache than asset; he’s twice received lengthy suspensions. Toscano was acquired as part of the trade with the Atlanta Braves that also sent Bud Norris to Los Angeles.
Players with options
Scott Kazmir signed a three-year, $48 million contract last offseason. It includes an opt-out clause that allows him to become a free agent this winter, but the likelihood of the 32-year-old walking away from a guaranteed $32 million is slim.
The Dodgers hold a $4.5 million option on Carlos Ruiz for next season, which presumably will be exercised. If not, Los Angeles will need to pay $500,000 to part ways with the veteran backup catcher.
Players and teams must make their respective decisions on options within five days of the World Series concluding.
Luis Avilan, Louis Coleman, Josh Fields, Yasmani Grandal, Chris Hatcher, Chin-Hui Tsao, Scott Van Slyke and Alex Wood are eligible for salary arbitration. The Dodgers avoided arbitration with Avilan, Grandal, Hatcher and Van Slyke last offseason.
Of note, Avilan, Coleman and Hatcher are out of options. Grandal, Fields and Van Slyke each have one option year. Tsao has two option years remaining, and Wood has three.
The Dodgers must tender contracts by Dec. 2 to prevent their arbitration-eligible players from becoming free agents. It’s not a guarantee each of the eight players will be tendered, such was the case with Juan Nicasio last December.
What’s more, Chris Heisey and Justin Ruggiano were sent outright to the Minors, and both elected for free agency.
Brett Anderson, Joe Blanton, Jesse Chavez, Rich Hill, J.P. Howell, Jansen, Josh Reddick, Turner and Chase Utley will become free agents at 6 a.m. PT the morning after the World Series concludes.
That bleeds into a five-day stretch where players can negotiate, but not sign with teams. The moratorium ends at 9 p.m. PT the fifth day after free agency begins.
Jansen and Turner are perceived locks to be extended the qualifying offer of one-year, $17.2 million. Both will reject it, and enter free agency.
Under the current system the Dodgers would receive a compensatory pick in the 2017 Draft for any player who was extended the qualifying offer and signed elsewhere. Modifications could come with the next collective bargaining agreement (current one expires Dec. 1).
Qualifying offers must be submitted by 2 p.m. PT on the fifth day following the World Series. Players have until 2 p.m. on the 12th day after the World Series to accept or decline.
As a reminder, qualifying offers can only be extended to players who were with a team for the entire season. Thus, Hill and Reddick, who may have been candidates for the one-year pact, are not eligible.