With the World Series concluding Wednesday, the clock is now ticking for the Los Angeles Dodgers to make decisions on their free agents and potential free agents.
As of 6 a.m. PT on Wednesday morning, Brett Anderson, Joe Blanton, Jesse Chavez, Rich Hill, J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen, Josh Reddick, Justin Turner and Chase Utley all reached free agency. The Dodgers have until Monday to exclusively re-sign their free agents.
Without further ado, let’s look at which players the Dodgers should have interest in re-signing for the 2017 season and beyond.
Scott Kazmir: The lefty signed a three-year deal with the Dodgers last December but has the ability to opt out of his final two years worth $32 million, should he choose to do so.
It was an inconsistent 2016 campaign for Kazmir, who enjoyed stretches of dominance early on while also seeing his performance dip towards the latter stages of the season.
Kazmir was left off the National League Division and Championship rosters due to a combination of injury and ineffectiveness. With all of that said, the free agent market is so weak that it’s plausible he’ll land a larger contract elsewhere.
Even if he decides to stay, the Dodgers can attempt to trade him to a club that’s in need for starting pitching.
Prediction: Doesn’t opt-out but ultimately gets dealt to another team
UPDATE (Nov. 6, 4:45 p.m.): Kazmir reportedly did not exercise his opt-out clause, and will remain with the club
Carlos Ruiz: The Dodgers swapped backup catchers with the Philadelphia Phillies in August, acquiring Ruiz in exchange for A.J. Ellis.
The 37-year-old was brought on for his success against left-handed pitching and experience in the postseason. While Ruiz initially struggled, he provided clutch hits for the club throughout the postseason.
Ruiz batted .500/.500/1.250 with a home run during the NLDS, and later added a double in the NLCS. Additionally, he caught the final out of Clayton Kershaw’s save against the Washington Nationals.
The Dodgers hold an affordable $4.5 million club option for Ruiz’s services next season, but they reportedly are exploring the possibility of trading him. Should such a move occur, Austin Barnes is slated to back-up Yasmani Grandal in 2017.
Prediction: Club option is picked up but eventually gets traded
UPDATE (Nov. 6, 6:30 p.m.): Ruiz reportedly will be traded to the Seattle Mariners
Brett Anderson: The southpaw battled injuries for the majority of the 2016 season and made just four Major League appearances.
With a plethora of starting pitchers under contract for 2017, Anderson doesn’t seem to fit in the Dodgers’ future plans.
Prediction: Anderson signs elsewhere
Joe Blanton: In his second stint with the Dodgers, Blanton established himself as one of the better setup men in the Majors and posted a sub-three ERA in 80 innings pitched.
Despite his consistency during the regular season, he struggled mightily against the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, allowing three home runs in three innings.
Blanton is one of many quality free-agent relievers available on the market, and should command a multiyear deal. The Dodgers will likely pursue younger options, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns in 2017, either.
Prediction: Blanton signs elsewhere
Jesse Chavez: Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, Chavez logged 25.2 innings in a middle relief role for the Dodgers.
He posted mediocre numbers all-around and was excluded from both postseason rosters.
Prediction: Chavez signs elsewhere
Rich Hill: Joining Los Angeles in an August trade with the Oakland Athletics, Hill essentially became the Dodgers’ second ace behind Kershaw.
Though he made just six regular-season starts because of blister issues, he posted a sub-two ERA and superb 2.07 FIP in 34.1 innings.
He wasn’t as dominant in the NLDS but tossed six shutout innings against the Cubs in the NLCS to give the Dodgers a 2-1 series lead.
Hill is undoubtedly set to become the top starting pitcher in free agency and could receive a three-year deal from interested teams. He’ll be 37 next season and some are speculating that he wants to sign with an East Coast club, leaving his future with the Dodgers in jeopardy.
Prediction: Hill signs elsewhere
J.P. Howell: The left-handed reliever was roughly league average this season (96 ERA+) but will likely have to find a new team in 2017.
Not only will Howell turn 34 next season, but he was often passed on by the likes of Luis Avilan and Grant Dayton for high-leverage situations during the second half of the year. As a result, Howell wasn’t included on either of the two postseason rosters.
Prediction: Howell signs elsewhere
Kenley Jansen: The all-time Dodgers saves leader will become one of the most sought-after free agents of the offseason.
In 2016, Jansen pitched to minuscule 1.83 ERA with 47 saves and 104 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. He impressed on a national level during the NLCS, blanking the Cubs over 6.1 innings in relief.
Jansen recently won the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award behind his strong performance, and is arguably the best reliever available in free agency.
Teams looking for closers will have him at the top of their list, along with Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman and Nationals closer Mark Melancon.
Prediction: Jansen re-signs with the Dodgers for five years
Josh Reddick: Reddick, who joined the Dodgers with Hill in August, struggled during his first month with the club.
He eventually turned it around in September and also posted solid numbers during the postseason. However, given that the Dodgers are rich with left-handed hitting outfielders, it wouldn’t make sense for them to bring Reddick back.
Prediction: Reddick signs elsewhere
Justin Turner: Since joining the Dodgers in 2014, Turner has evolved into one of the best third basemen in the Majors, both offensively and defensively.
He posted career numbers across the board this season, and will be among the limited premium offensive options during free agency. The Dodgers don’t have a clear replacement should Turner leave, so overpaying to retain him isn’t out of the question.
Prediction: Turner re-signs with the Dodgers for four years
Chase Utley: The veteran posted a 2.0 WAR in 2016 but wore down towards the end of the season.
Utley was roughly league average on both sides of the ball, but his true value comes from inside the clubhouse. Since joining the team in August 2015, Utley has taken on a leadership role, particularly with his mentoring of Corey Seager.
Unless the Dodgers make a blockbuster trade to improve the second base position, Utley will probably return for another season — even if it’s just for a utility role.
Prediction: Utley re-signs with the Dodgers for one year