Another season has ended in disappointing fashion for the Dodgers, who have arguably the game’s best young position player (Corey Seager) and not-so-arguably the best pitcher (Clayton Kershaw).
However, the roster could look much different next season, with half the starting infield (3B Justin Turner, 2B Chase Utley) hitting free agency. And that’s just the start of the tough decisions for the front office.
The most pressing items on Los Angeles’ to-do list:
The Dodgers’ bullpen, which ranked in the top four in the majors in ERA (3.35), WHIP (1.16), opponents’ OPS (.674) and FIP (3.66), is facing some free-agent defections.
Chief among them is closer Kenley Jansen, whose 127 saves the past three seasons are second only to fellow free agent Mark Melancon’s 131. Jansen finished the 2016 season with the best ERA (.183) and WHIP (0.67) in any full season of his career, and had a K/9 ratio over 13.0 for the seventh consecutive season. And he was even more valuable in the postseason.
Setup men Joe Blanton and J.P Howell also will hit the market.
Solve the Puig predicament
The mercurial right fielder has been shopped since last offseason (maybe even before), and it’s clear the Dodgers are open to trading him. Puig has regressed and battled injuries the past couple of seasons, though his production was encouraging after his late-season banishment to Class AAA – encouraging enough to help his trade value, too.
And if there’s one spot where Los Angeles has a surplus, it’s in the outfield, which also features Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, Trayce Thompson and Andre Ethier. Josh Reddick, however, is set for free agency.
In any case, it’s time for a definitive decision on Puig, whose postseason impact was minimal.
Store the rotation in bubble wrap
Given the tatters the rotation found itself in before and during the season -- 15 different pitchers started for LA in 2016 -- it’s incredible the Dodgers reached the postseason. Heck, even their prized deadline acquisition was injured when he arrived (see: free agent Rich Hill and his blister).
Brett Anderson likely will depart in free agency, but Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu are among the walking wounded still under contract. Even one of them would have been a huge help in the NLCS.
The Dodgers’ health situation has to improve next year … right?