LOS ANGELES — The Major League Baseball offseason officially began on Thursday, and as of 6 a.m. PT six Dodgers became free agents. Yu Darvish, Curtis Granderson, Franklin Gutierrez, Brandon Morrow, Chase Utley and Tony Watson were among the 149 players who are now free agents.
Darvish headlines the group, though with a bad aftertaste after his miserable World Series, lasting just 1⅔ innings in each of his two starts in the Fall Classic, including allowing five runs in the decisive Game 7.
Morrow finally gets a day of rest after pitching in all seven World Series games and in 14 of the Dodgers’ 15 postseason contests. The veteran right-hander, who turned 33 in July, was excellent in relief for the Dodgers in 2017, posting a 2.06 ERA and 1.55 FIP in 45 games, with 50 strikeouts and nine walks in 43⅔ innings.
Of these six free agents Morrow makes the most sense to retain, but there will be competition for his services on the open market.
Utley hit .236/.324/.405 in 127 games in 2017, though was 0-for-15 with two walks and two hit by pitches in the postseason. He is universally loved in the organization. Utley, who turns 39 in December, took until February to sign last winter, and if he returns it might be a similar waiting game this offseason.
Watson was acquired at the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31, and gave the Dodgers effective left-handed relief down the stretch, posting a 2.70 ERA in 24 games. He was a busy man in the postseason as well, appearing in 11 games with a 2.57 ERA, holding opposing batters to a .200 batting average (5-for-25).
Granderson, 36, hit 26 home runs this season, including seven in 36 games with the Dodgers after he was acquired from the Mets in August, but he never really hit. Granderson batted just .161/.288/.366 with the Dodgers, and after going 1-for-15 with eight strikeouts during the first two rounds of the playoffs was left off the World Series roster.
The Dodgers had designs on Gutierrez being a lefty masher in left field, but he was hampered by injuries most of the season. He missed a month with a hamstring strain, then missed the final three months with ankylosis spondylitis. Gutierrez hit .232/.317/.339 with one home run in 35 games. He turns 35 in February.
There is a quiet period in free agency which lasts for five days after the World Series, ending at 2 p.m. PT on Tuesday. No free agent can sign with a new team before then, though they can re-sign with their old team if they so choose. Players can discuss contract terms with new teams during this period, but no contracts can become official during this time.