Dodgers Free Agent And Trade Options As Winter Meetings Begin
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In the wake of Shohei Ohtani signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Giancarlo Stanton heading to the New York Yankees, a plethora of ensuing transactions are expected to take place at the Winter Meetings.

Coming off a 104-win season and World Series appearance, the Los Angeles Dodgers figure to explore all avenues in upgrading an already-talented roster. Whether it’s on the fringes or in the form of a blockbuster acquisition.

While the club had been prominently linked to Ohtani and Stanton for weeks, both players were long shots to join Los Angeles to begin with.

Ohtani controlled his own destiny and ultimately felt that the Angels were the best fit for him, while Stanton’s record-setting contract would’ve prevented the Dodgers from getting under the luxury tax threshold.

That being said, there are still many talented players available on the free-agent front and trade market that the Dodgers can potentially add in the coming days. Listed below are a few paths the club could take.

Acquire a frontline starting pitcher

The free-agent market for starting pitchers isn’t particularly strong, but that especially holds true now that Ohtani is officially off the board. That leaves just two elite-caliber arms for the taking in Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish.

Last season for the Chicago Cubs, Arrieta posted a respectable 3.53 ERA, 4.16 FIP and 1.22 WHIP over 168.1 innings, but put up elite numbers in the second half. After the All-Star Game, he pitched to a 2.28 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 61 strikeouts over 67 innings, and additionally allowed just one run in 10.2 innings across two postseason starts — further improving his case for a lucrative contract.

Darvish, who uncharacteristically struggled with the Texas Rangers this past season, saw his numbers improve with the Dodgers after joining the club in a midseason trade. He rebounded to the tune of a 3.44 ERA, 3.38 FIP and 1.15 WHIP over 49.2 innings for Los Angeles, with an improved 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings ratio.

Darvish went on to struggle in two World Series starts, but still figures to sign one of the largest contracts of the offseason. Multiple clubs have already shown strong interest in signing him, and in all likelihood, he will join a new organization in the coming days.

Arrieta poses as a fallback option for teams that miss out Darvish, but will still command a contract that exceeds nine figures. Other free-agent options include the likes of Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, but both project as mid-rotation arms — an area the Dodgers are flush in.

All of that considered, the Dodgers will likely upgrade their starting rotation in the form of a trade. Among the many arms that could become available are Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Gerrit Cole.

Given the familiarity between Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and his former Rays club, it wouldn’t be surprising if the two teams eventually match up for a deal. Archer is the cream of the crop, but will understandably cost a haul of prospects.

His team-friendly contract fits what the Dodgers are looking for, not to mention he fits the mold as a right-handed complement to Clayton Kershaw in the rotation. Cole also fits the bill, but it’s less certain if the Pirates will seriously entertain the prospect of trading its ace.

The Dodgers could ultimately decide to stand pat and keep their current starting rotation as is, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they tap into the market for an upgrade.

Add a power-hitting corner outfielder

As it stands, the Dodgers will return an impressive group of outfielders next season that include the likes of Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor and Andrew Toles. But given their reported pursuit of Stanton, the club could get creative and add another big bat to the fold.

Among the high-profile free agent options include Jay Bruce, Lorenzo Cain and J.D. Martinez. The interesting name on this list is Martinez, who’s coming off an incredible second half of the season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers reportedly had interest in Martinez prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, but didn’t land him in the end. He went on to tally 43 extra-base hits and 29 home runs in 62 games for the Diamondbacks, including a four-home run performance at Dodger Stadium in September.

But the 30-year-old is looking to capitalize on a career-year in the form of a $200 million contract — a figure that’s likely out of the Dodgers’ price range. Teams with clearer outfield needs that missed out on Stanton figure to pursue him more aggressively, so Los Angeles may once again opt to explore the trade market instead.

Conveniently enough, the Marlins are also expected to field offers for their remaining two All-Star outfielders in Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Given that the Dodgers and Marlins presumably exchanged names for a potential Stanton trade, they could potentially match up this time around.

Yelich, a Thousand Oaks, Calif., native, is the least likely of the pair to be dealt because of his extreme team-friendly contract. That being said, Ozuna is a realistic option for not just the Dodgers, but other teams in need of an upgrade in the outfield.

The 27-year-old is under contract for two more seasons and is coming off a career-year on both sides of the ball in which he slugged 37 home runs and saved 11 defensive runs with his glove in left field.

Ozuna will command a significant prospect haul, but the Dodgers can hypothetically deal from their outfield glut to help consummate a deal. The Pirates may also shop their franchise icon, Andrew McCutchen, who’s eligible for free agency in 2019.

He rebounded after a disappointing 2016 campaign and figures to receive plenty of interest given his short-term commitment.

Bolster the bullpen

The Dodgers boasted one of the league’s best bullpens last season, but saw two of their key performers reach free agency in Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson.

The Chicago Cubs jumped the market and reached an agreement with Morrow on a two-year deal in the range for $10 million annually, leaving the Dodgers with a gaping hole to fill for the eighth-inning role.

The Cubs reportedly view Morrow as a closer, indicating that Wade Davis will sign elsewhere. Davis is one of two elite free-agent closers available, along with Greg Holland.

Though, the Dodgers don’t figure to be a match for either given the salaries they’ll fetch and the fact that they’d have to accept a lesser role in Los Angeles.

With Mike Minor off the board, Watson is arguably the best free-agent left-handed specialist still available. He excelled for the Dodgers last season after joining the club in a midseason trade with the Pirates.

Should Watson depart for other clubs, the Dodgers could turn their attention to the trade block for arms with higher upside — specifically, a left-handed reliever to pair with closer Kenley Jansen in the back end of the bullpen.

Among some options include the Baltimore Orioles’ Zach Britton, who Los Angeles has already checked in on, and the Rays’ Alex Colome.

The Dodgers aggressively pursued Britton at the non-waiver trade deadline, but the Orioles opted against trading the star closer. A free agent next season, Baltimore could look to recoup as much value for him as possible, and given his recent injury history, it shouldn’t take much to land Britton.

Additional, if they are looking for a lesser option on the free-agent market they could target Boone Logan, who shouldn’t command a lengthy contract.