When the offseason began the Los Angeles Dodgers faced needs in their starting rotation and at shortstop. That then grew to include center field when the team non-tendered Cody Bellinger and he immediately became a free agent.
The Dodgers had interest in re-signing Bellinger, but he wound up joining the Chicago Cubs on a one-year, $12.5 million contract that includes a mutual option for 2024.
When reports of Bellinger signing with the Cubs surfaced during the Winter Meetings in San Diego, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged finding an outfielder — and in particular a center fielder — was a focal point.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Dodgers’ search for a center fielder is taking place via a potential trade:
In the meantime, the Dodgers are actively pursuing trades for a center fielder.
Dodgers trade candidates include Dylan Carlson, Jarred Kelenic, Bryan Reynolds and Alex Thomas:
The Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds, Diamondbacks’ Alek Thomas, Cardinals’ Dylan Carlson and Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic are among the trade possibilities, and all fit the Dodgers’ need for a left-handed or switch-hitter.
Reynolds recently made headlines when he requested a trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Reynolds remains under team control through the 2025 season by way of salary arbitration, and thus far the Pirates have not given any indication they are open to trading the 27-year-old.
While Reynolds has been productive at the plate throughout his career with the Pirates, there was a step back defensively this year.
Carlson took a step backward in 2022 as well, but he comes with a high ceiling as a former first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals. Carslon reportedly was included in Sean Murphy trade talks with the Oakland Athletics.
Thomas, a second-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2018 MLB Draft, made his debut this year and appeared in 112 games. Thomas was a modest hitter but played a strong center field defensively.
Kelenic was a former top prospect heading into the 2021 season but has yet to gain traction in the Majors. The New York Mets included Kelenic along with Jay Bruce, Justin Dunn and Anthony Swarzak in their December 2018 trade to acquire Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz from the Seattle Mariners.
Will Dodgers have Max Kepler interest?
In light of the Minnesota Twins reportedly signing Joey Gallo to a one-year, $11 million contract, there’s some belief they will look to trade Max Kepler.
He’s another left-handed hitting position player who could be someone the Dodgers target for a trade, but Kepler has primarily played right field.
The Twins signed Kepler to a five-year, $35 million contract extension in February 2019. The German-born outfielder has just one guaranteed season left on the deal at an $8.5 million salary, plus a $10 million team option for 2024.
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