The Dodgers will have some very difficult decisions this offseason. They will still have a team talented enough to win the World Series in 2022, but there are some moves they’ll have to make that won’t be easy.
As of right now, there are 11 free agents who were on the 40-man roster. It could be 12, depending on what the team decides to do with Joe Kelly, who has a club option.
Since Kelly is currently a TBD, we’ll leave him off this list. Also, no offense to Steven Souza Jr., Cole Hamels and Danny Duffy but we’ll leave them off this list as well.
The eight key free agents this offseason include:
- Clayton Kershaw
- Corey Seager
- Kenley Jansen
- Chris Taylor
- Jimmy Nelson
- Corey Knebel
- Albert Pujols
- Max Scherzer
Here’s where I would rank the most valuable free agents for the Dodgers this offseason.
1) Clayton Kershaw
Among the players listed, this is the most likely deal to get done in my opinion. I just can’t imagine Kershaw putting on another uniform, and frankly I’m not sure he wants to either. The Dodgers and the future Hall of Famer should do whatever it takes to reach a deal.
With the injury to end his season in 2021, maybe LA will be able to get him at a discount. Or, Kershaw decides to take less to return to the Dodgers. Either way, Andrew Friedman needs to make sure this Dodgers legend is back with the club in 2022, no matter what it takes.
If that means he has to babysit the little Kershaw’s so Clayton and Ellen can enjoy a date night, Friedman needs to get it done and ask which pizza he should pick up for dinner.
2) Chris Taylor
Okay, personal preference aside I think bringing back Chris Taylor is the most important free agent the Dodgers need to focus on. His contract won’t be nearly the price of Corey Seager, and his value to the Dodgers is massive.
Not only has Taylor produced at the plate while in LA, but he’s provided the Dodgers much-needed depth in the field when dealing with injuries. Taylor has played anywhere that has been asked of him and he’s done it while playing above average defense at each position. We saw how much the loss of Enrique Hernandez impacted the Dodgers in 2021. Hopefully they don’t feel the same loss in 2022.
Taylor has earned himself a big payday, and there are questions as to whether or not the Dodgers will be willing to shell out that kind of money for a utility man. They certainly can afford to do so, but I totally understand them being unwilling to match a price if they find it too high.
I sadly think Taylor will find a better offer somewhere else, but I think he is the most valuable option out of this bunch.
3) Corey Seager
Earlier in the week I wrote about Corey Seager “absolutely” wanting to return to the Dodgers. For more on what he said following the season and my thoughts on him returning, you can go check out that article.
I’ll give a cliff notes version of that article here. I would love to see Seager back and I think both parties would love for him to end up back in Los Angeles. It’s just going to be pricey.
Seager is going to get a lengthy contract that might surpass $300 million. The Dodgers can certainly afford it, I’m just not certain if they’ll be willing to offer him the contract other teams will.
Ultimately, I don’t think both Seager and Taylor are back in LA next season. If Taylor were to sign with another team while Seager is still a free agent, I think it makes his return to the Dodgers that much more important.
4) Kenley Jansen
Kenley Jansen will forever be my closer, and I sure would like him to be my closer for at least a few more seasons.
Jansen had one of the best seasons of his career in 2021 and was truly one of the best closers in all of baseball. If you were to take out that three game stretch in July, his numbers across the board would have been close to career highs.
Jansen reinvented himself this season and proved he’s still capable at pitching at an All-Star level. The Dodgers are going to have a great bullpen next season again, but I think bringing back Jansen will make them the best in all of baseball.
Just like with Seager, I wrote an article on Jansen earlier in the week, so you can check that out.
He’ll likely be pricey, but hopefully he’s willing to take a hometown discount to return to LA.
5) Max Scherzer
This may be a hot take, but I don’t think Max Scherzer is as important to bring back as other people think.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s still one of the best pitchers in baseball. Hell, he might win the Cy Young Award. But I just don’t think he’s worth the contract he’s likely going to get.
He’s going to get a big payday this offseason. He’ll likely get $35 million, maybe even $40+ million for 2-3 years. It would be great having him back in the rotation, but at that price I would be very hesitant.
He’ll be 38 next season, and he’s going to slow down at some point. We saw a glimpse of that towards the end of the season when Scherzer struggled over the final few weeks of the season. Then in October he said he had a dead arm, which certainly draws some concern.
I’d love for him to be back. I loved having him in Los Angeles. But with so many questions with the Dodgers’ rotation, I think I’d rather sign two starters for a combined $40 million instead.
6) Corey Knebel
The Dodgers’ bullpen is going to be great in 2021, but it sure would be great to have Corey Knebel back if they can afford him.
He missed half of the season, but looked great when he was healthy. He was also pretty solid during the postseason, as he had 11 strikeouts in 5.2 innings.
If the Dodgers lose both Joe Kelly and Jansen, there are going to be some holes in the bullpen. I’m not quite certain what Knebel’s value will be, but I think both sides can work out a deal to bring him back.
7) Albert Pujols
We need more hugs!
Albert Pujols turned out to be one of the biggest surprises in baseball this season. After being released by the Angels, Pujols was fantastic for the Dodgers.
He was used primarily against left-handed pitching and off the bench, two roles in which he thrived in.
With the DH likely coming to the National League next season, Pujols certainly becomes a little more valuable. The only downside is that he offers zero speed on the bases and his defense isn’t great. Still, as long as he’s hitting left-handed pitching and provides a bat off the bench his value is great.
It would be fun to watch Pujols chase 700 home runs and give more hugs in 2021.
8) Jimmy Nelson
After missing all of 2020, Nelson was back for the Dodgers in 2021. He was having one of the best seasons of his career, but in August he was ruled out for the season, needing both Tommy John surgery and a flexor tendon repair in his right arm.
Nelson posted a 1.86 ERA, 1.89 FIP and 0.93 WHIP in 29 innings. He was also averaging just under 14 strikeouts per nine innings.
The downside with Nelson is that he’ll likely miss all of 2022, making him a reclamation project for 2023. I’d love to see him return to the Dodgers again, but it’s just a lot for him to overcome at this point.
Let me know in the comments which free agents you’d like to return to the Dodgers!