The Dodgers took a major hit to their position player group this week. Short stop Gavin Lux tore his ACL in an exhibition game and will miss the entire season. This pushes veteran Miguel Rojas from his expected useful capacity to a regular shortstop role and reduces the overall depth behind Miguel Vargas and Max Muncy at second and third base, respectively.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spoke to reporters this afternoon and left open the possibility of the club going outside the organization to bolster its position player pool (link via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register ). Los Angeles’ head of baseball operations didn’t hint there was any urgency to make a move, but hinted they could look for ways to bolster the offensive group.
“Depth is always something we talk aboutFriedman told reporters. “It was a big driver for us to go out and get Miguel Rojas and we feel that between us and (Chris Taylor) that we are in a good place. … So for us, if we’re going to add from the outside, it’s going to be something that fits us differently or it’s going to be a bigger impact player in our minds.“
Friedman noted that the club wasn’t limited to just exploring the market for players with shortstop ability. This ties into Taylor’s versatility, in particular, as he is able to line up virtually anywhere on the diamond. Acquiring an outfielder, for example, could indirectly add to his infield depth, freeing up Taylor for more work in the dirt.
Plunkett writes that any additions, if made, are more likely to come via trade than free agency. Jurickson Profar is the top unsigned position player, while Jose Iglesias leads the market for the remaining free agent shortstops. Identifying viable trade targets is quite difficult at this stage of the offseason. The trade market has been quiet all winter and especially frosty in recent weeks. The majority of teams have more or less set the core of their rosters for the start of the season, and there are only a handful of teams that start the year without any real plans to be competitive.
“It’s hard. It’s not the most natural time to make a tradeFriedman acknowledged. “So we will spend more time to understand what is possible. We’re not sure at this point and are trying to wrap our arms around the various profiles of a player and how he would fit. … It just depends on what’s available. Just because of spring training and the nature of it and usually, it’s a slower trade market and more focused on undrafted (minor league) guys. Now, there might be players like him who fit in as well, or it might be someone in-house.“
of Baltimore Jorge MateoKansas City Nikki Lopezthe Cubs’ Nick Madrigal and the Yankees Isiah Kiner-Falefa are among the players whose names have been floated as candidates to switch uniforms this offseason — whether in publicly reported trade talks or loose speculation based on those clubs’ on-field situations. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported this morning that the Dodgers had checked in with the Yankees regarding Kiner-Falefa early in the offseason. That’s it before LA acquired Rojas, a signing that almost certainly would have pushed Kiner-Falefa out of the plans until Lux’s injury.
There is no indication that the Dodgers and Yankees have revisited those discussions in recent days or that they have plans to do so. It makes sense that the Yankees would welcome the talks if the Dodgers were to move back to him as a potential target. Kiner-Falefa is playing this season with a $6 million arbitration salary. he’s ready as a potential utility option, but could lose the starting job in the Bronx to get to the top Oswald Peraza. New York is reportedly reluctant to go over the $293 million final tax cap — something they would do with any kind of notable acquisition — and Kiner-Falefa is perhaps the most straightforward candidate on the roster for a trade that could free up some spending capacity.
The Dodgers themselves have flirted with the possibility of falling below a luxury tax level, in their case the base threshold of $233MM. The Rojas buyout put that to bed, however, and Friedman subsequently confirmed that they have no plans to lose money and go below the CBT index at this point. However, this doesn’t provide much insight into how much room they have for further additions. Roster Resource currently projects their luxury tax figure to be around $245 million, which puts them about $8 million away from the second tier penalty.
If they don’t go out of the organization, the Dodgers would run with a regular infield of Freddie Freeman, Vargas, Rojas and Manci across the diamond. Taylor could come in at times, but would likely spend more time at left and center, while at right Mookie Betts could see some action at second base.