Dodgers should be smart and sellBy Matt Verderame
At 42-36, the Los Angeles Dodgers are never going to sell off their players. They have deep pockets and enough awareness to realize that playing in a town like Los Angeles means never going into a rebuild. Ever.
All of that said, the Dodgers should be smart enough to understand that selling now would be the best thing the franchise could do for the long-term success of itself.
Los Angeles is in the race for a wild card slot in the National League. While the West might be a steep climb with the San Francisco Giants already seven games in front and boasting a rotation of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, the wild card is a possibility.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals are both stumbling in the NL Central, with neither doing much to look like a real contender (St. Louis is three games above .500 while Pittsburgh is a trio of wins below that threshold). The Dodgers are actually the top wild card team at the moment, with the biggest competition coming from the NL East pursuers in the form of the New York Mets and Miami Marlins.
So why should they sell in such a nice position? Because the team is getting old in spots, and it is not going to win the World Series.
At this juncture, the idea of trading first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and second baseman Chase Utley has to be at least a little appealing. Utley is 37 years old and somehow playing everyday while hitting .260. If there is ever a time to trade the future Hall of Famer, now is it. He won’t bring back any huge prospects, but he might bring back a guy who could be a nice role player or a quality fourth starter for years.
Gonzalez, 34, is signed through the 2018 season for more than $21 million per year. He’s only hit six home runs this season and while his 33 RBI and .337 on-base percentage are decent, the time is clearly ticking on his productivity. The Dodgers might have to eat a chunk of his salary, but moving him off the books would be huge in landing another, younger free agent this winter.
This is a team weighed down by far too many bad contracts to old players. All you need to do is look at the salary spreadsheet and you will see names like Scott Kazmir signed through 2018, Howie Kendrick in Dodger Blue until the end of 2017, Andre Either for this year and two more, and Brandon McCarthy at the same length. It’s brutal, and the front office needs to start digging out now before it is too late.
The Dodgers have nice young talent in Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda. With Los Angeles’ resources, building around them is a great plan.
However, the Dodgers need to move money first. That’s why, painful as it is, it’s time to retool.