Hot Stove League Talk

The Dodgers bought out Chad Billingsley’s contract for $3M, making him a free agent.

The 30-year-old Billingsley, a former All-Star, is trying to return from two arm operations. He didn’t pitch in 2014 and made only two starts in 2013 before needing Tommy John surgery. While rehabbing this year, he required surgery to repair a partially torn flexor tendon.

A first-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Billingsley went 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA for the Dodgers. He won a career-high 16 games in 2008 and was an All-Star in ’09.

Billingsley becomes the seventh Dodger free agent. In addition to him, Hanley Ramirez, Paul Maholm, Chris Perez, Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia and Jamey Wright are also free to negotiate for new deals with any team.

Ramirez’s contract is possibly the biggest decision new boss Andrew Friedman will have to make. Do the Dodgers make him a $15.3M qualifying offer, which ensures they get something in return (a supplemental draft pick between the first and second rounds) if he rejects it and goes elsewhere? He might be worth more than that, especially if he’s willing to move to third base for a new team. The Dodgers have Uribe signed through 2015, so that’s not an option they could easily fulfill. My guess is they make the qualifying offer just to guarantee themselves a player in return when he signs with the Yankees to replace Derek Jeter.

Dan Haren picked up his $10M option to stay with the Dodgers, and Brian Wilson is expected to pick up his for the same amount. Maholm is recovering from knee surgery, Perez was lightly used down the stretch, Hernandez was mostly adequate, Correia wasn’t much help, and Jamey Wright is 40 years old with who knows how much left in his arm.

The team still has more outfielders than it knows what to do with, and it’s also got Joc Pederson pounding on the door to get in, although his cup of coffee at the end of September wasn’t very successful. Ethier and Crawford could be trade bait, but both have very large contracts. Ethier is signed through 2017 with an option for 2018; the balance of the contract is $53.5M through 2017. Crawford is still under terms of the contract he signed with the Red Sox, which has a balance of $62.5M through 2017.

It should be an interesting off-season.

88 thoughts on “Hot Stove League Talk

  1. Well, the off season has begun. My thought is that Andrew Friedman will really be under the gun to perform. He has basically the same team that Ned had except for SS. He must also get at least 1 starter and several relievers. All of which seems doable. Having said that, with Mr. Friedman’s track record we should be able to count on a World Series in 2015, right? What does everyone think?

    • Dumping payroll out of the outfield or getting a productive player in return should the Dodgers have to eat payroll would be a big win for Friedman.

    • The last two years have shown that having the talent doesn’t mean they are going to perform to their potential.
      Or if they do during the regular season, that it will continue into the playoffs (the Nats understand that, as do the Cards after beating LA).

      As I wrote in an earlier post, I think a “World Series or bust” attitude just sets you up for failure. I’d hate to get into the rut (tho it’s a nice rut to be in) of past Yankee and Braves fans, where the postseason is a foregone conclusion. That’s one of the reasons why this year’s start was sooooo frustrating — this team was expected to be sooo much better.

      That said, I agree Friedman is expected to work his magic (for Magic) . . . but ultimately it’s up to the players to perform.

      • I agree, it is up to the players to perform, but I would rather have proven talent than young green talent. After 26 seasons I think it is about time that we have a team at least make the W.S. I get really tired of hearing year after year, “When we get this young guy in the minors or that guy we will really be good”. I don’t think the Dodgers should rebuild year after year. I also get tired of people saying that we can cut payroll. Who cares? I do not believe it is bad to expect good things. To be the best you must expect the best. Believe it!

  2. I’d like to see Hanley re-signed, but I can’t imagine the Dodgers will outbid an AL team, which can offer him the DH option on a longer contract. The qualifying offer is a no-brainer.

  3. Going into 2015 with the following infielders could work.
    Uribe, Arrubarrena, Gordon, Gonzales, Turner, Zorbist (from Rays) plus Van Slyke.

    Zorbist would take the place of Guerrero. Maybe, that becomes the trade–Guerrero for Zorbist.

      • I was closer than I feared ‘re Zionist. Tampa would want to deal with the contract before making the trade

        • The Devils have exercised their option on Zobrist, who will be 33 in May (not a kid, though he’s a very good and versatile player).

  4. Not reupping Bills is a clear indication that they are gong to try to get a top-three guy and not another 4-5 guy. Bills resigning probably would have required another 4-5 guy in any event, given the risks, so total outlays would have easily been in the $20m+ range. Haren would now slip to 5th with 6th coming from the farm. Still, sorry to see him go.

    • I don’t think Friedman has a choice. He must improve the Dodgers to get to the World Series. By that, I mean he must have enough pitching to overcome injuries both starting and in the pen. He needs a GOOD SS and a better catcher. Friedman is under the gun to perform. No time to wait on a farm to MAYBE put out premium players.

      • He certainly does have choices in how he achieves that. Dodgers standing pat are probably favored to win their division and with a couple of well pitched games from Clayton they are in the WS. My guess is that he wants to overwhelm on the pitching side, try to get a better catcher (Martin?), and see what can be done at SS with what he has.

        • I don’t think what he has at SS is good enough if Hanley walks. I also hope Friedman overwhelms with Pitching as it is hard to repeat the numbers Clayton has had and Ryu and Greinke have also done well. Dan Haren really did OK in his spot. Can they repeat? We shall see.

          • I think that Hanley walks, but I would guess that SS is the lessor priority following a big time starter (Scherzer, Lester, Shields?), a couple of set-up guys for the pen and catcher (Martin). All of these could be filled through the FA market. Stephan Drew is the only FA I see that is likely to be an upgrade over the in-house options at SS. (Bob H).

      • I am ready for Seager at ss in 2015 and if it isn’t until 2016 then Arruebarrena backed by Zobrist assuming the Dodgers can get Zobrist from the Rays.

    • Bills might return to the Dodgers but, with his recent injury history, you can’t count on him to anchor the rotation.

    • Yep, and he has to make a decision by November 10 whether to take it or become a free agent. Given his injuries and his poor (for him) season at the plate, he might just take it and hope he can have a better year in 2015.

    • The Dodgers should sign Hanley for 3 years. Next year playing short and the last two at 3rd. They should trade alphabet and perhaps Guerrero for a pitcher.

  5. Seems the Hanley answer revolves around his value as a defensive shortstop. Why not offer him the 5 years he’s seeking subject to him acknowledging he has one year left at SS. Come 2016, Uribe is either gone or relegated utility, Saeger is ready, and Ramirez moves over to third.
    Billingsley shouldn’t be forgotten either. Healthy, he’s fine in the 4-5 spot.
    No debate yet on whether the Dodgers should pursue bringing Martin back or the market for Ethier & Crawford?

    • Five years?? Ramirez played 86 games in ’13 and 130 or so in ’14 — he’s injured a lot. He’s an old 30 at this stage of his baseball career. Heck, I’d almost rather let him go and go after Stephen Drew (no, no! That’s a joke! He’s been awful since he left Arizona!)

      They need to eliminate part of their outfield payroll problem. Ethier and Crawford are the priciest, Puig is a bargain financially and a huge draw at the gate, Kemp seems to have recovered his swing along with his health, and Pederson and Van Slyke are still on the roster too.

      • How much are you willing to pay to not have either Ethier or Crawford play for the Dodgers? Isn’t that what it comes down to? Joc needs to show something for it to be a problem for me. How about a year OKC working on cutting down his K’s? Moneywise, I do see a tradeoff between resigning Hanley and another frontline starter.

  6. If Sandoval can play third then so can Puig. Trade Ethier and eat as much of his salary as needed to do so. If Ramirez does not take the one year qualifying offer and is gone, I say, put Puig at third, Crawford in left, Pederson in CF, and Kemp in RF. Trade Uribe and give Uribe’s, Becketts’, and Rameriz’ salary to Lester, or Shields, or Scherzer, or to Hamels if obtainable.

    That said, my first preference is still to trade Puig for Fernandez.

      • Puig has a chance at being one of the games outstanding centerfielders. Seems to be asking a lot just to hand CF over to Joc at this point. Moreover, Uribe is a steal at 3rd at only $6.5 million.

        • Joc would still be a better CF regardless of Puig’s ability at CF and theDodgers have Kemp for RF. Puig has been making Joc look like a contact hitter of late.

          • Joc has a lot of potential, but you are essentially asking the Dodgers to move a fellow who could easily be an All Start centerfielder to a new untested position, trade GG at third who posted an OPS+ of 120 for only $6.5 million, and pay not to have Ethier play for the Dodgers just so that you can put a rookie into centerfield. You are asking a lot.

          • Well, I am saying what I would hope to be possible given the glut of outfielders but without trying it out on the field first or asking Mattingley if he has seen Puig take ground balls etc at third, I wouldn’t make decisions from my armchair. These are ideas to play around with instead of shooting them down out of hand.

          • Sorry you feel that I was shooting it down out of hand, thought I was just making it clear what you are asking for. To make it clear from my side, I don’t consider the outfield situation to be a “problem” that needs such a creative solution with attending costs and risks. Nor do I feel the need to hand a starting position to Joc.

    • No doubt he has the physical ability to be a good third baseman but he has absolutely no training or experience for it and at his age he would have no inclination whatsoever to learn a new position. He would need several years of minor league experience to get comfortable with the responsibilities and that just isn’t going to happen. Look how reluctant Hanley is to change from short to third and that is a very easy switch. Millionaires just don’t have to do that sort of thing.

      • Bill Russel and Dave Lopes went from CF to SS and 2B and they did it in the majors without minor league experience in the infield. Puig could return to the outfield should the Dodgers find themselves with too many infielders as they now have with too many outfielders.

        A team puts up with millionaire’s attitudes if they need them and trade them if they don’t. If Puig wants to sulk at playing third then he can play OF for another team. Enough of this coddling.

          • But they were World Series champions. Puig Seager Gordon could be the next Garvy, Cey, Russell, Lopes. Maybe Schebler could convert to first base. ♡

          • Puig is a ++ outfielder. Russell and Lopes never were (though I liked Lopes a lot, I didn’t care much for Russell).

          • Russel and Cey were my favorites on the 70s teams. It started with Snider as my all time favorite. I also liked Drysdale, Ron Fairly, Jim Lefebre,Valenzuela, Loney, Kemp, and now Seager and Pederson have have intrigued me. Basketball wise, it was Elgin Baylor and Magic Johnson.

          • I first saw Cey at age 15, when he played against us in Tacoma. You could see how much better he was than anyone else even then (and we had a pitcher who made the majors briefly).

  7. Arizona is allegedly shopping Miguel Montero, he has 3 years and $40MM left on his contract. Martin is going to be very expensive, Montero could be had in a trade. (Ethier+?) Would he play with LA? Would LA fans or players accept him? I would, I could see he and Ellis about splitting the starts, better on both of them.

    • Ethier has little or no trade value, especially to a team that already has one over-the-hill OFer in Cody Ross. The Snakes are rebuilding, and that would mean they’re not interested in Ethier at any price, let alone giving up someone who plays a premium position fairly well.

    • The circumstances for trading Dre seem somewhat limited. They probably have to involve 1) a contender with money that suddenly loses their own version of him; 2) Joc showing that he is up to being at least a 4-5 outfielder. I have faith in the latter, but would have to cross my fingers on the former.

  8. I wonder if the fact that Guerrero is now more or less considered an outfielder has any bearing on whether Pederson is considered available for a trade? Guerrero has a clause in his contract that pretty much forces the club to carry him on the 25 man roster this year. Carrying him could make both Pederson and SVS available for trades. Not the ideal situation but it is what it is.

    • Where did you find this “clause in his contract” business? I don’t recall seeing it anywhere. Can you point me to the place you found it?

        • Thanks.

          Well, if he’s had fewer than 50 ABs in the majors and is hitting .091 (both hypothetical numbers) in the second year of his contract and is blocked by Gordon at 2B, Uribe at 3B and Ramirez at SS, in addition to Puig, Kemp and whoever (Ethier, Crawford, Pederson) in the OF, I wonder how hard getting his “permission” might be. He might want to play every day and improve his hitting in the minors.

    • Alexei isn’t very good. HIs D is marginally better than Hanley’s and, though he’s not quite an automatic out, Hanley’s a far superior option. Still, with the DH option, an AL team can offer Hanley more years and, probably, more bucks.

      • The way I see it, the Dodgers need to fill two slots SS (Hanley will surely walk, as the Dodgers can’t offer him anything close to what an AL club might) and catcher. If they upgrade enough at catcher (Martin?) then they can get away with something less at SS, but they don’t want to fill that slot with Seager on the way unless they can get someone that could slide over to 3rd base after Uribe. They could decide just to go in with Alphabet/Rojas. Perhaps Guerrero is an option at 3rd after a year of backing up in the infield.

    • It could also be an act to induce Hanley to negotiate another contract with the Dodgers. Offering him a QO doesn’t prevent them from working out a more lucrative contract.