Unfortunately, the Dodgers ran out of grit and duct tape for the 2021 season. The team battled injury after injury along with spells of ineffectiveness all year long. Surprisingly, they were still able to win 106 games despite losing so many players to the injured list along the way.
Now, finally and almost mercifully out of the postseason after losing to the NL champion Atlanta Braves, the focus shifts to offseason mode for Andrew Friedman and the front office. First and foremost, the team will have to address its many upcoming free agent players.
Note, free agency doesn’t begin until after the World Series.
LA features 11 free agents, including several long-time key contributors to the club’s success.
Free Agents (MLB)
- LHP Danny Duffy (did not pitch for LA)
- LHP Cole Hamels (did not pitch for LA)
- RHP Kenley Jansen
- LHP Clayton Kershaw
- RHP Corey Knebel
- RHP Jimmy Nelson
- 1B Albert Pujols
- RHP Max Scherzer
- SS Corey Seager
- OF Steven Souza Jr
- INF/OF Chris Taylor
Options and Opt Outs
- Joe Kelly ($12M club option, $4M buyout)
- Trevor Bauer (may opt out of the contract after the 2021 season, receiving a $2M buyout, with Dodgers deferring $20M of 2021 salary without interest, paid in $2M installments each Dec. 1, 2031-40 — per Cots Contracts)
Of the biggest names on the list, it’s hard to prognosticate who is likely to return.
Seager is set to seek top dollar on the market as one of the premier shortstops in baseball. Reports have the 27-year-old looking for a deal north of $200M, which may be a bit too rich for the Dodgers to take on.
Jansen cemented himself once again as one of the top closers in the game in 2021. Coming off a 5-year, $80M deal, the 34-year-old could be seeking a 3-4 year deal which the front office might balk at.
Kershaw is wrapping up a 3-year, $93M extension but is also injured and opting for the rehab approach this winter after a PRP injection in his left forearm earlier this October. If the 33-year-old is willing to ink a team-friendly deal, chances are the Dodgers would be more than willing and ready to welcome back the franchise icon.
Taylor has been a massive cog in the success of the Dodgers over the last 5 years. Of any of the names listed above, the 31-year-old may be the most important free agent for Andrew Friedman and the front office. After losing Enrique Hernandez a season earlier, LA struggled to find the right utility compliment for CT3 in 2021. As the season trudged along, Taylor’s importance became even more of a spotlight for LA. Without him, they do not make the postseason. Give this man the bag, Andrew.
It’s set to be a long winter for the Dodgers and for baseball in general. With the collective bargaining agreement expiring in December, some or most free agents around the league may take their time in signing deals. For LA, the best bet, if possible, is to work fast and make deals happen early.