MLB Trade Rumors recently released their annual free agent predictions for their top 50 free agents, and it included three Dodgers free agents leaving, but they only saw the Dodgers acquiring one player.
The one player they picked the Dodgers to acquire was Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who I profiled before.
5. Masahiro Tanaka – Dodgers. Not technically a free agent, Tanaka is expected to be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. MLB and NPB are closing in on an agreement for changes to the posting system, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Rangers paid $51.7MM to negotiate with Yu Darvish two years ago, and executives who spoke with Yahoo’s Jeff Passan expect something like $75MM to negotiate with Tanaka. Whatever the fee, it will not count against the team’s luxury tax payroll, and a contract will still have to be negotiated with Tanaka’s as yet unknown agent. Tanaka is known to have a great splitter and while he doesn’t project to be as good as Darvish, some reports have suggested he could step directly into a Major League rotation as a number two starter. At just 25 years old, an MLB team would get much of his prime years, making him a potential match even for teams not expected to contend in 2014. The Dodgers, Yankees, and Angels are expected to be major players, while I can see the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Twins, Royals, Mariners, Astros, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Padres, and Rockies being involved as well.
As I’ve said, I could see this happening, and I strongly prefer this move over trying to spend big on any of the other free agents or gutting the farm trying to trade for an ace.
On the other side of things, MLBTR has Ricky Nolasco and Brian Wilson leaving.
20. Ricky Nolasco – Phillies. Nolasco, 31 in December, saw his stock rise after joining the Dodgers in a July trade and posting a 3.52 ERA in 87 innings. Three rough outings in September took some of the shine off, but even innings eaters make good money these days. And unlike Ervin Santana, Nolasco is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer. I’ve come around to the idea that Nolasco should be able to find Edwin Jackson’s four-year, $52MM deal. He could solidify the Phillies’ rotation, and may also be an option for the Twins, Giants, Angels, Rockies, or Mariners if the Dodgers don’t retain him.
47. Brian Wilson – Angels. The Beard had a successful Tommy John comeback with the Dodgers, though it was still less than 20 innings including the postseason. He’s likely to sign a one-year deal. The Angels are a potential match, as they could push Ernesto Frieri to a setup role.
I agree that both of them will probably leave. Nolasco can get more money elsewhere than the Dodgers will pay him to be their #5 — or worse if Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett come back throwing bullets. And Wilson has regained his form and reinvented himself a bit to earn a shot at a closer’s role again.
Nolasco played his role in 2013, but he won’t be missed that much if the Dodgers’ off-season goes as planned. Wilson, however, will be missed, as he could serve as a lights-out setup man to Kenley Jansen. Though I might not want to wish too hard for that, lest Ned Colletti hand out another three-year deal to a reliever.
Last but certainly not least is Juan Uribe, who MLBTR lists going elsewhere … and doesn’t mention the Dodgers as contenders for him.
42. Juan Uribe – Marlins. Uribe quietly ranked sixth among all free agent position players in FanGraphs wins above replacement this year with 5.1, outpacing names like Mike Napoli, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran. He was the Uribe of his Giants years, with a workable OBP and solid pop. He’s played the middle infield in his career, but spent most of 2013 at the hot corner, amassing stellar fielding numbers that account for much of that WAR. While Uribe has always posted strong defensive numbers at third base, those heights are not likely repeatable. More detrimental to his market value is his replacement level play for the first two years of his Dodgers contract, from 2011-12. The 34-year-old is probably looking at a one-year deal, though a modest two-year pact is possible. It’s difficult to place any decent free agent in Miami these days, but they could offer Uribe a nice opportunity. The Yankees, White Sox, and Cubs could be other options.
Wait, what? Did something happen that I’m not aware of? They don’t have the Dodgers signing a third baseman, so who’s supposed to play there in 2014? Did the team get a stud prospect at third that I’m not aware of? Like what’s going on here?
I sure as hell hope the Dodgers don’t let him bounce to the freaking Marlins and leave third to utility heaven or something. I mean, do you see any third baseman you would take over Uribe on this list? Cause I don’t.
It’s truly amazing that I’m saying this after I’ve wanted him released for like the last two years before 2013 happened, but I do hope he returns. Uribe is a rare combination of a guy who I actually think matters in a veteran but diverse clubhouse, and a player who is legitimately the best third baseman on the market this year.