With second base a glaring need for the Dodgers in 2017, the Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi could pursue a number of high-profile names.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the more active teams so far in the 2016 off-season. After dealing Howie Kendrick to Philadelphia, and Chase Utley exploring free agency, the Dodgers have made searching for a new second baseman their priority. The Dodgers have been linked to Ian Kinsler, Brian Dozier, and Logan Forsythe as their main targets. All three are right-handed hitters who would help their deficiency hitting against left-handed pitching. The names fit on paper, but how likely are any of these prospective trades to actually happen?
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First, let’s take a look at Detroit Tigers second baseman, Ian Kinsler. Kinsler is clearly the best candidate statistically out of the three mentioned. He hit .288, with 28 home runs and 83 RBI in arguably his best season last year. In addition, Kinsler hit a solid .309 against left-handed pitching last year, with 14 stolen bases. 2016 was his age 34 season which makes his feat even more remarkable, and offers a bit of promise considering he’d only approve a trade to the Dodgers if they offered him an extension.
Kinsler is set to make $11 million in 2017, and $10 million in 2018 with a club option that includes a $5 million buyout. He’s the most expensive candidate, and an extension will only make him even more expensive. Not to mention, the rebuilding Detroit Tigers will want a couple of prospects on the side. The Dodgers’ front office, Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi, will most likely back away from a deal like this. During their tenure, they’ve made it clear that their objectives are to cut spending and minimize long-term contracts. That being said, signing a 34 year-old middle infielder to a long-term contract seems unrealistic given the facts.
Brian Dozier is a different player than Kinsler, but equally as effective. He’s arguably the mostsuited candidate if all the factors are considered. The power-hitting second baseman hit .268, with 42 home runs and drove in 99 runs in 2016. Like Kinsler, this was also his best year, the difference being he’s only 29. Dozier is also a unique combination of power and speed, stealing 18 bases and only being caught twice. Dozier hit .282 against left-handed pitching, and smacked 11 of his 42 home runs and drove in 21.
Dozier’s contract is also favorable to that of Kinsler’s. He’s set to make $6 million in 2017, and $9 million in 2018 with no options or no trade clause. This means that he’s under the control of the Minnesota Twins and cannot demand an extension or block a trade. With a favorable contract and statistics, the only thing barring a trade would be what the Twins get in return. It would be hard to imagine that the Twins would get anything less than the Dodgers’ best, perhaps a Jose DeLeon or Cody Bellinger. If the front office duo see that Dozier is worth more than one or two key prospects, the Dodgers have found their solution to the second base and right-handed hitting questions.
Though Dodger fans want to see a blockbuster to help shake off the heartbreaking loss in the NLCS to the Chicago Cubs, this trade is probably the most likely to happen. However, don’t let the name deceive you, Forsythe is as good of a candidate to fill the Dodgers’ needs than anyone. Forsythe batted .264, with 20 home runs and 52 RBI last year, but in the last two years has hit a modest .273, smacked 37 home runs, and drove in 120 runs. Not to mention, most of the damage has come against left-handed pitching, as he’s hit .287 in the past two years against southpaws. Forsythe can also play third base, if the Dodgers are unable to re-sign Justin Turner.
The Tampa Bay Ray is owed a little over $14 million through 2018, with a club option. The Rays are also known for selling their players in reasonable deals. They could ask for Kike Hernandez, Charlie Culberson, and/or Mike Bolsinger in return.
The contract and price for the player seems to fit the bill, in addition to Forsythe being signed by Friedman before. The most ideal outcome would be to re-sign both Utley and Turner, and use Forsythe and Utley as a platoon. Utley’s attitude and leadership was invaluable to the Dodgers’ 2016 success so his presence on the team would be worth the extension. However, if the Dodgers were to fail in re-signing Turner, Forsythe could play third full time with Utley remaining at second. Another possibility in case of Turner not returning, is to acquire Forsythe with Evan Longoria. Though this deal would be extremely expensive and risky as the 31 year-old is owed over $94 million over the next six years.