This offseason has a chance to be very hectic for the Dodgers. A number of players are free agents and there is a chance the 2023 roster could look very different than it did this season.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the team this offseason. I narrowed it down to my five biggest questions surrounding the Dodgers ahead of the 2023 season.
What happens with Cody Bellinger?
Sadly, there’s a strong possibility that Cody Bellinger has played his last game in a Dodgers uniform. He’s projected to earn $18.1 million in arbitration, a number just far too high for the production he provides.
Sure, the Dodgers could shock the world and bring him back at that number. Or, they can non-tender him, which seems like the likely outcome.
If the Dodgers non-tender Bellinger, he certainly can return to LA at a much lower price. I’m not sure what his market will be, but it can’t be that strong. I would love to have Bellinger return in 2023 at a much lower price.
I get it, he’s awful at the plate. With that being said, the defense he provides in center field is so valuable and the Dodgers would certainly miss it. He’s a Gold Glove caliber center fielder. If Bellinger doesn’t return, the Dodgers take a big step back defensively. The options would be Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson or maybe James Outman. Not awful replacements, but not great.
Do the Dodgers pick up Justin Turner’s option?
Just like with Bellinger, the Dodgers have a decision to make with Justin Turner. The veteran has a $16 million club option with a $2 million buyout.
Turner was one of the better hitters in the NL during the second half, so he clearly still adds value at the plate. But his last two postseasons have been ugly, as he’s hitting .128. He’s looked overmatched at the plate and looks like his age is catching up to him.
Speaking of age, Turner will be 38 next season. Do the Dodgers want to have a 38-year-old third baseman? I’m not so sure. I think Turner’s days as an every day starter are over. I think he would thrive as a player who sees a few starts a week and is used as a bat off the bench. The Dodgers have some young talent in the minors who I’d like to see get some runway.
It would be tough to see Turner in another uniform in 2023. Personally, I can’t imagine him wanting to leave. Hopefully Turner and the Dodgers can reach an agreement on a team-friendly deal that will help the Dodgers save some money.
What will the starting rotation look like?
After having too many starters in 2022, the Dodgers’ rotation in 2023 looks pretty up in the air. As of right now, there are only three names who appear to be locks. Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May.
Walker Buehler is expected to miss all of 2023 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney are all free agents.
The Dodgers could opt to use some of their top arms in the farm system, such as Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller. Both pitchers are considered some of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. If they’re not ready, the Dodgers could turn to other minor leaguers such as Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove and Andre Jackson.
Even if the young arms are part of the future plans, you still need to fill the rotation with arms you can count on at the beginning of the season. Maybe they bring back Kershaw and Anderson, giving them five starters to complete the rotation. There are also a number of free agents that the Dodgers could turn to as well.
I’ll have an article next month where I share my favorite free agent options.
Who will be the starting shortstop?
Trea Turner is a free agent this offseason. He’ll get a massive payday. Will it be from the Dodgers? That is the million dollar question. Or should I say, potentially a $250 million dollar question.
The Dodgers could bring back Turner and give him a large contract. If I had to make a guess now, I don’t think that happens. I think other teams offer more money and I think Turner does want to return home to the east coast. So, if the Dodgers don’t bring back Turner, what happens?
Well, the obvious choice seems to be moving Gavin Lux over to shortstop. He has experience over there and allows you to keep Max Muncy at second base or potentially give prospect Michael Busch a shot.
If not Lux, the Dodgers also have prospect Jacob Amaya waiting in the minors. Defensively, he has what it takes to be a Gold Glove finalist. Only problem is that the hitting isn’t really there, as he’s struggled in the minors to put up decent numbers at the plate.
If the Dodgers don’t stay in the organization, maybe they opt to bring in another shortstop via free agency. There are a number of intriguing options on the market. I’ll have an article next month going over the top options there, so make sure to stay tuned for that.
How many prospects will get a shot?
Once again, the Dodgers have one of the top farm systems in baseball. Maybe it’s time they start giving guys some shots. I’ve already mentioned some of their top names, including Miller, Stone, Outman, Busch and Pepiot. They also have Miguel Vargas who cracked the postseason roster.
The Dodgers have so many talented prospects who could make an impact at the big league level in 2023. It all comes down to how many will have a runway.
Maybe LA opts to save money and give some prospects a shot. Or, maybe they opt to trade some of their young talent to acquire big-league talent. Either way, there are a number of players who can make their major league debut in 2023.