After Saturday night’s game six loss, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been eliminated from the playoffs. Clayton Kershaw was rocked for five runs in five innings, and the Dodger bats were silenced by NL Cy Young candidate Kyle Hendricks. The Dodgers devastating series loss hurts, but they can’t feel for sorry for themselves all offseason. They have a lot of tough decisions to make when it comes to their impending free agents.
Tough Decisions Loom for Dodgers on Impending Free Agents
The Dodgers acquired the 36-year-old Hill from the Oakland Athletics at this year’s trade deadline. Hill has struggled with injuries in the past, but was healthy and productive when it mattered most. Hill recorded a 2.12 ERA in the regular season, and was solid in the postseason with a 3.46 ERA. Given this winter’s weak free agent pitching class, bringing back Hill on a one- or two-year deal would be worth it.
When the Dodgers traded for Reddick at the deadline, they thought they were acquiring a productive bat they could throw in the middle of their lineup; however, Reddick disappointed. Driving in only nine runs and hitting just below .260, Reddick did not produce to the level the Dodgers had hoped for. His bat went silent in the second half of the season, and the Dodgers should let him walk when he hits free agency this winter. However, Reddick wasn’t the only Dodger outfielder who had it rough this year.
The Yasiel Puig Situation
Puig has had a rough run in the majors ever since he was called up back in 2013, but the 2016 season was by far the biggest struggle of his career. He hit .263 and was sent down to the minors midseason. Los Angeles attempted to trade him to a bevy of teams, all of whom rejected the Dodgers trade offers.
In all likelihood, it will be extremely hard to find a team that will take Puig off the Dodgers hands, so they have three options – keep him in the minors, trade him, or, given the rollercoaster ride that has been Puig, just cut him. He’s been a distraction for this team and has put them on the highlight reel for the wrong reasons. Reddick and Puig must be let go because the Dodgers need to find outfielders who can make consistent impacts offensively to make this lineup more respectable.
Turner was one of the more important players for this Dodgers team all year long. His bat made an impact in both the regular season and the postseason. He hit .275 in the regular season, driving in 90 runs; he also drove in eight runs in the postseason. Turner’s defensive versatility also makes him an important piece to the puzzle for this Dodgers team. He can play both third and second base, and fields both positions well.
Jansen has become one of the best relievers in all of baseball. He is a power pitcher who can blow his fastball by opposing hitters. Jansen closes for the Dodgers, but he’s also capable of pitching in non-save situations. In the postseason, he pitched in long relief situations, getting the Dodgers out of jams. His ability to close and long relieve interchangeably makes him one of the more valuable relievers in all of baseball. Retaining Jansen’s services will not come easy, as he will be a hot commodity on the free agent market, but it’s imperative that the Dodgers do everything that they can to keep him.
The Dodgers have a lot of tough decisions to make this winter. In a generally weak class, the Dodgers may have to overspend to keep some of their own free agents. What the Dodgers decide to do with their impending free agents will either allow them to regroup, and make their lineup stronger, or put them out of playoff contention.