Signing Clayton Kershaw to some monstrous mega-deal is of course priority #1 for the Dodgers this winter. They will sign Kershaw, and like I said in the past it probably will be around 8 years and $200 million if not more. He deserves every penny, and I really don’t see any number which would shock me that much anymore since free agent contracts have ballooned over the years. Kershaw is the Dodgers supreme pitcher for this generation, and making a deal which would ensure the southpaw’s retirement in Blue is something not only smart as far as reaching the goal of a soon championship, but it also feeds perfectly upon the Dodgers rich history in excellent pitching which has been a heralded tradition for the franchise.
The Dodgers did not offer qualifying offers to any of their free agents last Monday, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t agree on new contracts with any of those players. Chris Capuano, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston, Jr., J.P. Howell, Carlos Marmol, Ricky Nolasco, Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker, Juan Uribe, Edinson Volquez, Brian Wilson, and Michael Young are vying for a new contract with the Dodgers or perhaps with a new team this offseason.
While I could do without most of these free agents for next season, there are three which the Dodgers should most definitely negotiate a contract with in order for them to be a part of the 2014 team. I won’t be heartbroken if the Dodgers sign international free agent Masahiro Tanaka this offseason and let the fifth spot in the rotation go to either Josh Beckett, Matt Magill, Stephen Fife, Zach Lee, or eventually Chad Billingsley over signing Ricky Nolasco. The Dodgers could sign Ricky Nolasco, but if he asks for an inflated contract which over represents his value, I think the Dodgers should go with their other options. Mark Ellis could be signed to a lesser role for ’14, but it is uncertain whether Nick Punto or Skip Schumaker will be back on the Dodger bench next year. Michael Young is hopefully not in the equation, and Edinson Volquez and Carlos Marmol may garner a consideration for a bullpen role.
There are three free agents which the Dodger should absolutely sign and all three would bolster the Dodgers roster for next season as they did in 2013:
1. J.P. Howell
J.P. Howell is on the top of my list for free agents who should be re-signed by the Dodgers. With Scott Elbert‘s career in doubt, Paco Rodriguez‘s late season decline, and the lack of other quality left-handed relievers at the Dodgers disposal, Howell’s importance is that much greater to the Dodger relief corps in 2014. Howell’s fantastic season for the Dodgers in 2013, which has been glossed over somewhat, earned the unsung hero award from me. The 30-year old’s contributions to the team this past season should not go unnoticed, and Howell’s relief work not only in the regular season for the Dodgers but also through the postseason should definitely warrant a 2014 return notice wrapped up in perhaps a two-year deal? Last offseason Howell was signed to a one-year $2.85 million contract by the Dodgers. Howell pitched in 67 games for the Dodgers during the regular season and finished with a 4-1 record and 2.03 ERA in 62 innings pitched. Other teams will surely be interested in Howell, but the Dodgers should for sure bring J.P. back.
2. Juan Uribe
Third base. Oh third base, that is where Juan Uribe should be in 2014. Not only did Uribe hit the Top Homerun of 2013 for the Dodgers, but his slick fielding at the hot corner nearly yielded him a Gold Glove Award (which he was robbed of by the way). Uribe became a fan favorite after his phoenix from the ashes comeback continues to send us running for empanadas to celebrate. Uribe just wants to help the team, and if you can’t hand him a one-year contract after watching his post game interviews you may not have a heart. Third base is a relative black hole anyways, and if they don’t re-sign Uribe the prospects of sliding Hanley Ramirez over or signing a less than stellar defensive third baseman in his place for potentially more than what the jolly Uribe is likely asking for seems illogical. Uribe’s defense really shores up the infield, and with Alexander Guerrero potentially starting at second base, the Dodgers will want Uribe’s experience at third.
3. Brian Wilson
The Dodgers should absolutely sign Brian Wilson. Sure, he’s going to ask for a lot of money. I don’t think money should be an issue for the Dodgers, and we shouldn’t look toward the disaster of Brandon League‘s contract to distract us here. Relievers are very risky to sign to big deals, and we saw that roll of the dice fail with Brandon League who has been atrocious since signing with the Dodgers to a lucrative contract. Yet without risks there is no rewards. Brian Wilson has demonstrated that he still has the talent level and the work ethic to be a premiere reliever. The Dodgers should sign Wilson as long as Wilson wants to pitch for L.A. The Dodgers are the ones who took a chance on the rehabbing Wilson following his second Tommy John Surgery, so perhaps he will be a bit loyal toward the Dodgers. I’m not too sure that Wilson would not take a set-up role or another relief spot in the bullpen. I feel like most relief pitchers like to pitch in game important spots, but I don’t buy into the he only wants to pitch in the ninth inning as a closer theory. Rumblings that Colorado is interested in Wilson don’t bother me at all. The Dodgers will bring back The Beard.
Who will stay and who will go? Keep it right here for continued Hot Stove coverage. Who do you want the Dodgers to sign this offseason?