The off-season has officially begun because the Dodgers have started making trades and offering players new contracts. They have given qualifying offers to Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner, neither of whom have excepted or declined so far. Another big thing that happened was the Dodgers traded catcher Carlos Ruiz to the Mariners for left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuno. Another thing that happened is that the Spring Training schedule has been announced, meaning that tickets are available to be purchased. In my mind, the most exciting thing that has happened this week is that the Shortstop Silver Slugger Award went to Corey Seager.
It was November 7, 2016 when I heard the news that Carlos Ruiz was traded to the Mariners in exchange for left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuno. It is to be expected that there will be off-season trades, but what makes this one so strange is the fact that the Dodgers acquired Ruiz about 2.5 months ago. They sent A.J. Ellis to the Phillies in exchange for Ruiz on August 25, 2016. You can view the post about what happened here. This transaction does not feel fair to Ruiz because he had nearly no chance to prove himself. He played in only 14 regular season games, most of them off the bench, and hit .278.
Of course, nobody will just trade players without reason, but this doesn’t seem fair to Chooch at all! They traded for the left handed pitcher Vidal Nuno because they are trying to solve a pitching problem. In 2016, they did not have depth from left-handed pitchers after Clayton Kershaw hit the disabled list. They had a lot of left-handed pitchers, but they didn’t get much depth from them, so it is easy to see why that is a problem. Scott Kazmir averaged 6 innings per start, but he missed the final 2 months of the season with back and neck issues.Next, Alex Wood did not do well any later than 5 innings, and was sent to the bullpen for the playoffs. Julio Urías was excellent, but he is only 20 years old and the Dodgers would like to protect his arm, so he didn’t go very deep into games. It seemed like Brett Anderson would make a good number 4 starter, but an injury in spring training forced him to miss most of the year. The Dodgers acquired Rich Hill at the trade deadline, and he became the number 2 starter, but he was plagued by blisters on his throwing hand, causing him to be inconsistent on the mound. Hyun-Jin Ryu’s return from the DL was very disappointing, he had missed all of the 2015 season with shoulder issues, and only made one start in 2016 before returning to the disabled list.
As you can see the need for a more consistent left-handed pitcher is great. The 29-year old Nuno has only played in 126 games, and started in only 42 of them. He has a career record of 5 wins and 20 losses, and in 2016 1-1 in 55 appearances, but only 1 start. This makes it very hard to know if he will be the consistent pitcher that the Dodgers are needing.
The Dodgers have 11 players on the free-agent market, and you can view the list here. There are now only ten players with the opt-out option now, because Carlos Ruiz has been traded to the Mariners. Out of the 10 players who can opt-out of their contracts, the Dodgers have two main concerns, Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner.
Kenley Jansen is the Dodgers’ closer and he is one of the top closers in the game. Jansen’s previous contract was $10.65 million, and the Dodgers gave him a qualifying offer of $17.2 million for one year. There are two other elite closers who are on the free-agent market this year, Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon. The Cubs acquired Chapman at the trade deadline from the Yankees, and the Nationals acquired Melancon from the Pirates at the trade deadline. The reason that I mentioned this is because this means that Chapman and Melancon are not under the qualifying offer, which means that teams will potentially be able to sign them for less than Jansen. Jansen had a huge year in 2016, he set a new franchise record for career saves, and finished the season with 47 saves and a 104:13 strikeout to walk ratio. The video below is Kenley Jansen’s 142nd career save, the one that gave him the Dodger save record.
Justin Turner is the Dodgers’ everyday third baseman and the only third baseman on the free-agent market. In 2016 Turner made $5.1 million and the Dodgers have offered him a one year deal for $17.2 million. This year is the first year the Turner has had a starting position instead of being a bench player. Turner’s ability to hit off of right-handed pitching is just amazing, and his reflexes at the hot corner are outstanding. If Turner signs with another team, the Dodgers will have a very large gap to fill. Chances are that they will have to go outside of the organization to find a replacement. The video below is a perfect example of what I mean when I say that Turner is an excellent hitter against right-handed pitchers. Cueto “quick-pitched” him, but he seemed to be expecting it and hit the ball over the wall in left-field.
Like most of you, I have been looking forward to the when the first pitch of Spring Training is thrown in 2017 since Yasiel Puig grounded into a double play to end game 6 of the NLCS against the Cubs. There are quite a few reason that Spring Training is very fun. The first reason is that it means the beginning of the next season, because Spring Training is the pre-season. One of my top reasons for liking Spring Training is going to Camelback Ranch. The Dodgers and White Sox share this facility for Spring Training, and going is just a blast. Spring Training is also one of the places where you can receive autographs, but it sure gets crowded around 10 o’clock AM. Be sure to begin planning your trip to Glendale, Arizona as soon as possible.
This is now the second off-season award that the rookie shortstop Corey Seager has received. His first one was winning the Player’s Choice Award for Top NL Rookie, and the second one is the Silver Slugger Award at Shortstop. Now you might be wondering why I keep saying that it is at shortstop, and the reason for that is because every position in each league receives this award. I think that the reason Seager won it at shortstop is because of his ability to collect big hits when the Dodgers needed it. When I say, “When the Dodgers needed it,” I mean it, because on the day that the Dodgers clinched the NL West, they were trailing 2-1 with 2 outs in the 9th inning, when Seager hit a solo home run and tied the game. You can read all about that game here. The videos below show who the silver sluggers are, the first one is the National League, and the second one is the American League.
I think that Corey Seager will be winning many more awards, be sure to comment on what other awards you think that Seager will win, and also comment on what your favorite thing about Spring Training is.