Hot Stove League #4, 2022-2023

The LA Times’s Jack Harris offers a recap and analysis of the Dodgers’ relative inactivity this offseason.

For most of Andrew Friedman’s tenure as the club’s president of baseball operations, this is how the Dodgers have operated.

They’ll flex their financial muscle on deals they believe to be worth the value, but rarely expand their financial strike zone beyond what they deem a deal to be worth.

In recent offseasons, that has meant hanging around “the backboard,” as Friedman likes to say, in hopes of scooping up a loose superstar on the rebound.

Sometimes it works, such as their blockbuster trade and extension for Mookie Betts in 2020, or the shock signing of Freddie Freeman after the league’s lockout last spring. Sometimes it doesn’t, such as when the Dodgers missed out on Bryce Harper in 2018 and Gerrit Cole in 2019.

But for a club that prioritizes “sustained success” — another Friedman principle — and considers multi-year outlooks when constructing its roster and payroll, it has become the default course of action.

This winter proved no different.

While Rodón and Jacob deGrom got nine-figure guarantees, the Dodgers filled out their pitching staff with Noah Syndergaard and Shelby Miller (they were also heavily linked with Seth Lugo).

While Trea Turner, Bogaerts and Correa secured long-term deals, the Dodgers added J.D. Martinez on a one-year deal, and Jason Heyward and Steven Duggar on minor league contracts (they also made a strong push for Kevin Kiermaier).

The team never completely abandoned the thought of another marquee signing. With Dansby Swanson, for example, they positioned themselves as a shorter-term alternative for the All-Star shortstop in case he didn’t get the mega-deal he was seeking. Swanson eventually agreed to a seven-year contract with the Chicago Cubs before the holidays.

But in the end, the Dodgers effectively decided to double-down on themselves, bypassing the very top of the free-agent market with the belief they could contend in 2023 in other, less expensive ways.

I don’t have major complaints about the team’s unwillingness to spend a fortune on long multi-year contracts for guys in their thirties, although I’d like to have seen them keep Trea Turner and re-sign Justin Turner (for a lot less than Trea). We’ll just have to wait and see how this younger team does and trust that Friedman and Company will be able to find competent help at the trade deadline.

24 thoughts on “Hot Stove League #4, 2022-2023

  1. Tonight, in the Chilean Patagonia town of Cochrane, an elderly couple entered the restaurant where I was eating dinner. They were both wearing Blue Jays jerseys. I asked if they were Canadian, and they responded they were Italian (but their son lives in Toronto).

  2. International signing period results:

    Despite operating with the smallest bonus pool among MLB clubs, the Dodgers opened the international signing period on Sunday by nabbing two of the highest-rated prospects in this year’s class.

    The team signed shortstop Joendry Vargas and outfielder Arnaldo Lantigua from the Dominican Republic, it announced Sunday night, the two headliners of the club’s 13-player signing class.

    Vargas, 17, was ranked as this year’s third-best international prospect by MLB Pipeline, which listed the right-handed hitter at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, and praised his athletic frame, advanced approach at the plate and above-average throwing arm.

    Lantigua, 17, was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 23rd best overall player in the class, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound prospect with highly-touted power-hitting potential from the right side of the plate.

    They were two of the six Dominican players the Dodgers signed Sunday. The others are shortstops Daniel Mielcarek and Elias Medina, and right-handed pitchers Anderson Jerez and Erick Batista.

    The Dodgers also signed seven players from Venezuela: right-handed pitchers Jesus Tillero, Samuel Sanchez, Robinson Ventura and Luis Carias; catcher Eduardo Quintero; shortstops Harold Gonzalez and Javier Herrera.

  3. 27 days until pitchers and catchers report to ST (February 16)

    31 days until remaining squad reports to ST (February 20).

    36 days until first spring training game against Milwaukee (February 25).

    69 days until first game of the 2023 season (March 30).

  4. Bally Sports Network (which broadcasts games for 14 MLB teams and is a subsidiary of Diamond Sports, itself part of Sinclair Broadcast Group) may be in trouble because Diamond is potentially nearing bankruptcy. That could portend bad things for regional sports networks. However, there is one bright side: because of this MLB may be forced to look at its “antiquated blackout rules.”

    That links to the St. Louis Dispatch and is behind a paywall now (my first pass was not). This NY Post article covers the same material.

  5. The Dodgers avoided arbitration with all but one of their eligible players — Tony Gonsolin may be headed for a hearing.

    According to people with knowledge of the situation who were unauthorized to speak publicly, Urías netted $14.25 million, the biggest salary for next season among the club’s arbitration-eligible players.

    Urías, a Cy Young Award finalist last season who figures to anchor the Dodgers’ rotation in 2023, is entering his final season of arbitration before becoming a free agent next winter.

    Buehler settled with the team at $8.025 million for next season, people with knowledge of the situation said, though the right-hander will likely miss most if not all of the campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

    Smith settled at $5.25 million, the highest among the club’s crop of first-year arbitration-eligible players, according to sources.

    Dustin May ($1.675 million), Trayce Thompson ($1.45 million), Evan Phillips ($1.3 million), Yency Almonte ($1.5 million), Brusdar Graterol ($1.225 million) and Caleb Ferguson ($1.1 million) also came to agreements Friday before Major League Baseball’s deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures for a potential hearing.

  6. I am currently in Futaleufú, the whitewater capital of Chile. Tomorrow I will meet with a friend living here who’s a Brewers fan and, a few years ago, we bet a dinner at the town’s best restaurant over whether Bellinger or Yelich would be MVP. I haven’t been able to collect until now.

  7. The Dodgers as usual avoid arbitration with several team members (in fifteen years they’ve only gone to arbitration hearings with two players). They made deals with Will Smith, Walker Buehler, Trayce Thompson and Dustin May. There are still six other arbitration-eligible players remaining — Julio Urías, Evan Phillips, Tony Gonsolin, Brusdar Graterol, Yency Almonte and Caleb Ferguson.

  8. Will miss Trea, but glad they passed on giving big bucks/years to the older starters on the market. Leaves space/resources next year for reupping Julio, entering the Ohtani sweepstakes, and giving Klayton another year if he wants. While the bat is underwhelming, I like the great glove that Rojas gives the Dodgers a lot of flexibility in the infield and anchors CT3 to the outfield.

  9. Miguel Rojas is indeed a Dodger (assuming he passes a physical, which, after Correa’s travails in the past month, isn’t a sure thing). He’s got some Dodger history, too. The Dodgers are

    reuniting with someone who secured his place in Dodgers history as a rookie in 2014. During the seventh inning of Clayton Kershaw’s no-hit bid on June 18, 2014, Rojas made an excellent pick and throw at third base to keep the effort intact and allow the ace to finish the job.

    It’s that glovework for which Rojas was best known during the eight years he spent with the Marlins, after being traded there with Dee Strange-Gordon and Dan Haren for Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, Andrew Heaney and Kiké Hernández in December of 2014. Although he’s served as Miami’s primary shortstop for much of that span, he’s also seen time at all three other infield positions.

    On the offensive side, Rojas slashed .265/.318/.366 during his time with the Marlins, with 2022 seeing him post career lows in nearly all offensive categories. He spent most of the second half of the season playing with a right wrist injury, though, ultimately undergoing debridement of his right wrist to remove cartilage in October.

    I gotta say, the Dodgers got the better of that deal back in 2014. They still have Barnes, they flipped Heaney for Howie Kendrick, and they had several excellent years from Kiké before he left as a free agent for the Red Sox. And now they have Rojas back. They gave up Amaya,

    who is regarded as a plus defender at shortstop with impressive plate discipline, [and] is expected to make his Major League debut during the 2023 season. He was selected by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2017 Draft. Amaya was on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, so no additional move is needed for Rojas.

  10. Hey everyone.

    First – I hope all my California friends are surviving the crazy weather that is happening right now. I can’t imagine being pounded by all that wind and rain. I have been thinking of you all quite a lot.

    Second – I’m fine with the Dodgers off-season so far. Glad to see the end of contract with Bauer. And I’m fine with holding off big contracts this year and reload again next year.