Of course, there’s still the question of whether the Dodgers would be inclined to pay whatever it costs. Just because a franchise is able to sign someone doesn’t always mean it makes the most sense, from either a financial standpoint or roster construction.
The Dodgers, as stated previously, have more money than God. In accordance with Spotrac, their Opening Day payrolls in the past few seasons are somewhat outrageous.
2018 – $199.5 million (3rd in baseball)
2017 – $259.1 million (1st)
2016 – $268.7 million (1st)
2015 – $301.7 million (1st)
2014 – $246.3 million (1st)
2013 – $239.8 million (1st)
Those numbers are only plain silly. In 2015, the Dodgers spent more than two times as much on payroll than all but five teams. Exterior of a flukey”low” spending season this past year, they have not only lead the league for five consecutive seasons, but have run away with it year in and year out. Spending more than $300 million in a year is rampant.
So, evidently, the Dodgers can throw money at any problem (or player). They’re probably itching to get back on top of the heap after not breaking $200 million in 2018. But does this make sense out of a team-building perspective?
None of the team’s pending free agents on Spotrac are outfielders, so there is no obvious gap to fill. Among the strengths of the Dodgers is that their positional flexibility, which adds to their thickness but makes it harder to evaluate their offseason outlook. Cody Bellinger began 50 games in the outfield in 2018, and seemed in 81, but while his versatility is a nice bonus, he’s ultimately an athletic first baseman, and he surely would not get in the way of Harper playing that reason.
Nevertheless, if the Dodgers retain Brian Dozier at moment, then Max Muncy would have to play first, which pushes Bellinger to the outfield. Additionally, Chris Taylor can play second, shortstop, third, and the outfield. You can see where the hassle comes in.
However, for the purposes of the exercise, we will suppose Bellinger is off the table for outfield playing time, but bear in mind the Taylor could find his way out there on occasion.
Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Kik?? Hernandez, and Matt Kemp are the remaining outfielders. Puig, Pederson and Hernandez are in their mediation years, and almost certainly will be kept around at affordable deals. It’s difficult to evaluate both of them relative to one another. Each hit 20-25 home runs, and every hit between .248 and .267. Pederson has fought to fulfill his immense abilities, and the same could be said for Puig. Hernandez is another Dodger who performs all over the diamond.
Then you have Kemp, who’d have been simple to rule out inputting 2018 but then proceeded to have one of the greatest comeback seasons in baseball. He struck .290 and forced his first All-Star game since 2012, and he has owed a whole lot of cash next season.
None of that includes Alex Verdugo, the Dodgers’ best prospect and one of the top 25 prospects in all of baseball. He probably already should have been a regular Major League outfielder in 2018, and there’s no method Los Angeles can continue to keep him in the minors next year. He wants to play daily, and surely will find this opportunity.
Ultimately, the Dodgers have a lot of bodies to perform the outfield already. That said, Puig and Kemp will no more be under contract after next season, and outside of Verdugo there aren’t any straightforward future standouts from the Dodgers outfield. The match for Harper, position-wise, is fairly weak compared to the other contenders.
In the conclusion of the afternoon, however, none of their current men are necessarily better than Harper, and if the Dodgers are willing to deal with a crowded outfield for a single season, things shore up well in 2020 and beyond. A future outfield using Verdugo and Harper would be fairly attractive to any team, especially considering how comparatively inexpensive Verdugo will probably be until he hits free agency.
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