There are high hopes surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers this winter, some of which are related to potential infield acquisitions.
The Los Angeles Dodgers fell short of expectations in 2019 as the team was eliminated in the NLDS by the eventual World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals. With the disappointing outcome, many fans are hoping that the Dodgers’ front office dips into the pocketbook and spends big.
After all, the team actually has the salary cap space to do so. The Dodgers have just over $51 million in luxury tax space after Spotrac’s arbitration estimates. The team also has money freeing up in the near future as well.
The three largest salaries on the team, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen are all set to be free agents over the next two winters. That frees up another $53 million in luxury tax space.
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This has fans hoping that the Dodgers sign one of the marquee free agents this winter, which consists of Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. In fact, Jon Heyman already reported that the Dodgers are interested in all three, although they are going to stay true to their valuations of each player.
Cole and Strasburg make sense, the Dodgers could absolutely use another frontline starter to make the rotation even better. Rendon, on the other hand, does not fit as well on the team and everyone seems to be overlooking it.
Rendon is not the only free-agent infield target for the Dodgers either as Josh Donaldson has also been linked to the team. Donaldson has not been getting as much buzz as Rendon, but the logic is clear: the Dodgers would be getting a right-handed run-producing bat in the middle of the order.
What does not make sense is the infield itself. The idea of getting Cole is fueled by Justin Turner saying that he would move positions if needed for next season. Turner, who is getting progressively worse in the field, would benefit from moving to first base.
Okay, so he can move to first base, but what about Max Muncy? Say what you will about Muncy but he actually leads all second basemen in FanGraphs WAR in his two seasons with the Dodgers. Rendon is better than Muncy, but Muncy does not deserve to simply be kicked to the bench.
Oh yeah, Muncy can play second base. But what about Gavin Lux? The Dodgers are not going to store him back down in AAA after winning Minor League Player of the Year as well as a postseason roster spot after being a September call-up.
Lux has proven that he is big-league-caliber and should be the team’s starting second baseman in 2020. You cannot even platoon him, either, as Muncy and Lux are both left-handed. Plus, Muncy, Lux and even Turner are all too good to be platooned.
You could make the case for Lux moving to shortstop with the team trading Corey Seager, which is a conversation that somehow picked up steam this offseason after he had one bad playoff series.
As bad as Seager was in the NLDS (and trust me, he was bad) he is still one of the best and most promising shortstops in the league. Even in what is being deemed a “down year” for Seager he still hit .272 with 19 home runs and 18 RBIs.
There is absolutely no reason to trade Seager.
Turner’s contract does end after this season and that naturally will open up a hole for a Rendon or Donaldson, but that hole is not available in 2020.
There will be some infielder to target next year, either via trade or in the free-agent market, there is no reason to give Rendon a massive contract for a fit that does not really exist, to begin with. Yet, for some reason, everyone seems to expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to sign Rendon this winter.