Los Angeles Dodgers Offseason Needs

in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Coming off a tough Game 6 NLCS exit, the Los Angeles Dodgers offseason needs are pretty clear, and as a result the Dodgers should have a noisier offseason than they did in 2015. It kicked off by trading late season acquisition Carlos Ruiz  to the Seattle Mariners late Sunday evening. Here are three major focuses the Dodgers front office will have this offseason.

Los Angeles Dodgers Offseason Needs

Who Stays, Who Goes

The Dodgers have a handfull of free agents, the biggest of those being Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. Both are coming off highlight seasons.

Turner tied Yasmani Grandal for the team lead in home runs at 27 in 2016, and at age 31 is likely looking for a long-term deal. After setting a career-high home run mark (his previous high was 16 in 2015), one has to wonder if Turner has it in him to remain a consistent slugger. At the moment, there aren’t many comparable players out there on the free agent market who could replace Turner, so it won’t be an easy decision to let him go.

Jansen, who the Dodgers nearly bumped out of the closer spot when attempting a trade for Aroldis Chapman last offseason, just won the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year award. Jansen carried the team in the postseason and pitched multiple innings of relief when the Dodgers starting pitchers failed to go five or more innings often. As Chapman is on the market again, this time as a free agent, the Dodgers may take another look. Coming off a World Series championship, and with many teams now turning away a blind eye to his domestic violence allegations, Chapman won’t come cheap. Consequently, this could drive the price up for Kenley Jansen. No matter what happens, the Dodgers will be shelling out money for a closer.

Other notable free agents the Dodgers will need to deal with: Rich Hill, Josh Reddick, Joe Blanton, and J.P. Howell.

Starting Pitching

Saying a baseball team needs to focus on starting pitching in the offseason is like saying a human needs water to live. For the Dodgers, though, the pond is drier than last year, and they need to replenish more than they did last year. Add in the unknown effects of Clayton Kershaw returning from a back injury many thought should have ended his season, and the Dodgers may have a crisis on hand.

Surrounded by youth with Julio Urias and up-and-comer Jose De Leon, the Dodgers may be able to get away with signing Hill to a deal and hoping that Hyun-Jin Ryu finally returns to what he once was if he can get healthy. However, Ryu returning at all, let alone to what he once was, is an if the Dodgers shouldn’t rely on.

The pitching free agent is market thin and, consequently, the Dodgers may have to look into the trade market. As always, many teams are looking for starting pitching, so the Dodgers would need to give up some of the farm in return.

Yasiel Puig

It became clear after the 2016 trade deadline that the Dodgers front office lost patience in Puig when they demoted him Triple-A Oklahoma City after they were unable to secure a valuable trade for him, and needed to make room for Reddick of the Oakland Athletics.

Reddick struggled in Dodger blue though, and as Puig was turning it around in the minors, the Dodgers had no choice but to bring Puig back for the end of the season and the postseason.

The return of the Puig does not guarantee that the Dodgers have a long term vision for him in their organization. With their needs on the mound, don’t be surprised if the Dodgers send Puig packing for a starting pitcher with some money and prospects to offset the cost. Puig is due $6.5 million in 2017, $7.5 million in 2018, and a deferred signing bonus of $1,714,285 in each year.

A move to send Puig will also be contingent on what the Dodgers decide to do with Reddick, who enters free agency and has plenty of upside to keep around.

No matter what the Dodgers do to answer these offseason needs, expect Andrew Friedman and company to keep the baseball world scratching their heads and being surprised when the results of the moves made come in 2017.

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