Dodgers Free Agents: Predictions On Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, And Others
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With the offseason officially underway, the Los Angeles Dodgers must decide on the fate of seven players who reached free agency.

The group for the Dodgers includes a pair of midseason acquisitions in Yu Darvish and Tony Watson; a quartet of veterans in Andre Ethier, Curtis Granderson, Franklin Gutierrez, and Chase Utley; and right-hander Brandon Morrow, who played a pivotal role out of the bullpen in the postseason.

Without further ado, let’s examine which players the Dodgers could have interest in re-signing for the 2018 season and beyond.

Yu Darvish: The Dodgers shocked the baseball world with the acquisition of Darvish at the non-waiver trade deadline.

Darvish ended his regular-season campaign on a positive note and rode that momentum into the National League Division Series, where he allowed just one run over five innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He followed up that performance with a one-run outing against the Chicago Cubs in the NL Championship Series, but struggled in two World Series starts, yielding a combined eight earned runs in just 3.1 innings pitched.

With the free-agent market for starting pitchers relatively weak, Darvish figures to command a hefty contract that the Dodgers aren’t likely to match.

That being said, Darvish is also entering his age-32 season in 2018. For perspective, Zack Greinke was 32-years-old when the Dodgers allowed him to depart for the Arizona Diamondbacks on a record deal.

Prediction: Signs elsewhere

Andre Ethier: The Dodgers declined Ethier’s 2018 option worth $17.5 million, and instead opted to buy him out for $2.5 million.

Ethier, in his 12th season with Los Angeles, hit .235/.316/.441 in 38 plate appearances. For the second consecutive year, he was sidelined with injuries and didn’t make his season debut until September.

In the postseason, Ethier recorded four hits over 13 at-bats and most notably homered for the second consecutive NLCS at Wrigley Field. Additionally, Ethier drove in the Dodgers’ lone run in Game 7 of the World Series.

It isn’t out of the question that Ethier returns to the Dodgers on a lesser salary, but with the expected return of Andrew Toles and the loaded outfield depth in general, it seems more likely that Ethier catches on with another team.

Prediction: Signs elsewhere

Curtis Granderson: Granderson was acquired from the New York Mets in mid-August with the intention to bolster the Dodgers’ outfield production.

While the veteran slugged seven home runs with Los Angeles, he struggled to find consistency at the plate and hit .161 in 112 at-bats.

The 36-year-old wasn’t included on the World Series roster and only tallied one hit in the previous two postseason series. He intends to resume his playing career next season, though it likely won’t be with the Dodgers.

Prediction: Signs elsewhere

Franklin Gutierrez: The 2017 season was a homecoming for Gutierrez, as the 34-year-old returned to the organization that signed him as an amateur free agent in 2000.

Gutierrez struggled to stay on the field and posted a .657 on-base plus slugging in 63 trips to the plate for the Dodgers.

Given the outfield depth and Gutierrez’s injury history, the veteran will likely have to find a new team this offseason.

Prediction: Signs elsewhere

Brandon Morrow: A Minor League free agent signing, Morrow established himself as one of the more dominant setup men in all of baseball.

In 43.2 innings, the 33-year-old pitched to a 2.06 ERA, 1.55 FIP, and 0.92 WHIP with 50 strikeouts to nine walks.

Morrow became just the second pitcher in MLB history to appear in all seven World Series games, where he allowed five earned runs in 5.1 innings. All-in-all, he gave up six earned runs in 13.2 frames during the postseason — good for a 3.95 ERA.

Morrow is arguably one of the top free-agent relievers on the market and should command a hefty raise from this season. Given his age and wear-and-tear during the playoffs, clubs may be hesitant to give him a lengthy contract.

Regardless, Morrow is the perfect complement for Jansen in the Dodgers bullpen, and the club should look to bring him back for the 2018 season. Morrow has expressed an interest in returning.

Prediction: Re-signs with Dodgers for two years, plus a club option for a third year

Chase Utley: It’s no secret that Utley is nearing the end of what’s been a borderline Hall-of-Fame career that’s spanned 15 seasons. The veteran recently admitted that he isn’t sure if he’ll continue to play in 2018.

With the presence of Logan Forsythe at second base, Utley saw his role drastically reduce this season. In 353 plate appearance, he hit .236/.324/.405 with 32 extra-base hits and 34 RBI.

Utley was featured on all three postseason rosters but didn’t record a hit in 15 at-bats. While his veteran leadership has been essential to the Dodgers in recent seasons, there might not be room for Utley on the 25-man roster next year — and that’s assuming he doesn’t retire.

But then again, should Utley return to the field in 2018, it wouldn’t be all that shocking if he found his way back to Los Angeles in some capacity.

Prediction: Utley retires and joins the Dodgers front office as a special advisor

Tony Watson: Acquired at the non-waiver trade deadline, Watson served as the club’s go-to option against left-handed hitters in the second half.

He posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 20 innings for Los Angeles during the regular season and yielded two runs in seven postseason frames. Watson additionally earned the win in two World Series games.

Whether the Dodgers re-sign Watson depends on the health of fellow southpaws Grant Dayton and Adam Liberatore. The club also has Luis Avilan, Tony Cingrani, and Edward Paredes under team control.

Other free-agent left-handed relievers the Dodgers could pursue include Boone Logan and Mike Minor. It isn’t out of the question that the club rekindles talks with the Baltimore Orioles regarding Zach Britton — a trade target that was often linked to Los Angeles this summer.

Prediction: Signs elsewhere