What Will Happen With Each Of The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Free Agents?
Los Angeles Dodgers Offseason: Which Free Agents Will The Dodgers Keep And Let Go?
The Los Angeles Dodgers head into an offseason that will be filled with difficult roster decisions. With aging veterans and unproven, young talent, the Dodgers have several players heading to the free agent market this winter.
The Dodgers’ ace pitcher and likely Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is not a free agent because of arbitration, but the team has already had contract extension discussions with him in the past. Management will almost assuredly continue those talks this offseason and re-sign Kershaw before he ever has a chance to go on the market. A pitcher of the utmost caliber is not something you let slide through the cracks and give other teams a chance to entice, so extending Kershaw’s deal, no matter how pricey, will be a smart move.
Alas, Kershaw’s impending deal of massive proportions could affect the Dodgers’ decision making in regards to their 2013 free agents. After a successful, albeit short, 2013 performance, Brian Wilson will now be a free agent and the veteran will surely look for much more than the one year, $1 million contract he received from the Dodgers. The pitching staff is actually filled with tough decisions this offseason as J.P. Howell, Carlos Marmol and several other hurlers join Wilson in the list of free agents.
The pitching position is not the only position with free agents decisions to come. More than one of the Dodgers’ utility men and even one everyday infielder are up for new contracts in this offseason. As such, it is time to start the slideshow and break down what will most likely happen to each of the Dodgers’ 12 free agents. Click the “Next” button above to get started.
Mark Ellis – Second Base
With the signing of Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero, it does not make much sense for the team to continue on with the aging Mark Ellis. At 36 years old, Ellis is not getting any younger and, despite a solid glove, his bat has not provided enough oomph in the Dodgers’ lineup. Even though he hit .270 in 2013, his career average of .265 is not impressive enough for Ellis to continue on in Los Angeles.
Skip Schumaker – Utility Player
Skip Schumaker played a vital role as one of the Dodgers’ best utility men in 2013. Hitting .263 on the season while often coming off the bench or starting in place of an injured player, Schumaker proved to be a necessary asset. The organization's management will do their best to re-sign Schumaker and keep him on the roster.
J.P. Howell – Relief Pitcher
The Dodgers owe much of their success this season to their middle relief which was led by J.P. Howell. Posting a 2.03 ERA in 62.0 innings pitched on the year, Howell was an ideal reliever for the Dodgers. You can expect the team to hang on to this 30-year-old veteran who has been absolutely great over the past two seasons.
Juan Uribe – Third base
Juan Uribe had, by far, his best season as a Dodger this year and best since his 2009 season with the San Francisco Giants. After hitting .191 in 66 games in 2012, Uribe rebounded with a surprising .278 average and added 12 home runs and 51 RBI. With a defensive performance that should win him the 2013 Gold Glove Award for third base men, Uribe put together a great year to have a strong performance. The Dodgers need to be careful with this signing, however, as Uribe is already 34 years old and never really has put together back-to-back offensively solid seasons. I think the Dodgers should go after Uribe, for his glove and even a little bit for his bat, but they cannot overpay for him.
Ricky Nolasco – Starting Pitcher
For a bottom of the rotation starter, Ricky Nolasco was great for the Dodgers after being traded from the Miami Marlins. In his 15 starts for the Dodgers, Nolasco went 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA, a 1.195 WHIP and a 3.57 strikeout to walk ratio. It’s hard to ask much more from a fourth or fifth starter. Although the last impression Dodgers fans have of Nolasco was a rough outing in the NLCS, the Dodgers would do well to keep him on the staff in 2014. With Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett sitting out all year with major injuries, keeping Nolasco is a tough, but smart choice. If all goes well with Beckett and Billingsly, the Dodgers could use one or more of these three pitchers as trade bait for a blockbuster move.
Jerry Hairston – Utility Player
As sad as it is to say, I think it is time for the Dodgers to part ways with Jerry Hairston. Hairston has been a great utility man for the Dodgers, but he will turn 38 in 2014 and had his worst offensive performance this last season since 2007. The Dodgers can and should do better than Hairston and will likely part ways with this loveable veteran.
Chris Capuano – Starting Pitcher
It’s also time for Chris Capuano to leave the Dodgers organization. Capuano had a full season at the end of the Dodgers’ rotation in 2012 that was adequate, but really fell apart in 2013. His 4.26 ERA in 20 starts is just not impressive and I would not expect him to be much better in 2014. Hit the road, Jack. I mean… Chris.
Carlos Marmol – Relief Pitcher
Carlos Marmol is one of the most difficult Dodger free agents for me to figure out. Marmol was absolutely awful for the Chicago Cubs in 2013, relieving in 31 games and posting a 5.86 ERA and a 1.52 strikeout to walk ratio. But then he appeared in 21 games for the Dodgers after being traded and recorded 21.1 innings with a 2.53 ERA. Although Marmol still struggled to keep his walks to a minimum with LA, he was leaps and bounds better than he was in Chicago. If he can continue in 2014 with a solid performance like the end of 2013, he would be a valuable asset. Alas, I believe Marmol is too much of a question mark. The Dodgers will likely sign him to a one-year deal and he will end up spending most of the season in the minors.
Nick Punto – Utility Player
The Dodgers should re-sign Nick Punto. You can look at his offensive stats and make a valid argument against this as he only batted .255 on the year, showing little power and too many strikeouts. But to his credit, Punto did have a .327 on-base percentage and, as the Dodgers’ 2013 Heart and Hustle Award winner, was a fantastic asset to the team. As a solid defensive substitute just about anywhere in the infield, Punto is not one the Dodgers should let go. Expect the team to sign him for another year or two.
Edinson Volquez – Starting Pitcher
Edinson Volquez was brought in late in the 2013 season as an end of the rotation substitute as the Dodgers continued to struggle with their pitchers’ health. His five average starts for the Boys in Blue diminish the truly poor year he had as Volquez went 9-10 with the San Diego Padres. A 5.97 ERA is hard to forget about and I would be disappointed to see Volquez as the Dodgers’ fifth starter at the beginning of 2014.
Michael Young – Utility Player
The problem with Michael Young is not his bat, but his glove. The Dodgers brought Young in during the 2013 season and many had high hopes for him to be a solid defensive substitute for Adrian Gonzalez and Juan Uribe while adding a strong bat off the bench. Young indeed hit well for the Dodgers in his short stint, batting .314, but his glove is overrated. I think the Dodgers will get suckered into keeping Young for his bat and his track record, but will be disappointed in the long run. Expect him to get a contract offer from the Dodgers in the offseason.
Brian Wilson – Relief Pitcher
Brian Wilson’s situation is extremely interesting and you can read my full rundown of the situation here. For now, here is the Spark Notes version of that article. Essentially, Wilson’s comeback from Tommy John Surgery was remarkable and he played extremely well for the Dodgers in 2013. Alas, a one-year, $1 million contract is laughable for a closer of Wilson’s caliber. I know the Dodgers will try to keep Wilson, but the odds are that he will get a hefty contract from someone who can pay him more and needs a closer. Wilson likely will not play set up to Kenley Jansen again in 2014, but there is still a small chance he decides to stay with the contending Dodgers and takes a set up role.
That does it for my slideshow. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below with any thoughts you have. I would love to read about any of these free agents that you agree or disagree about and who you think should take their places.