Inbox: Are Dodgers pursuing relief help?

December 16th, 2020 Dodgers beat reporter Ken Gurnick fields fans’ questions:

Why haven’t the Dodgers pounced on Liam Hendriks and re-signed Blake Treinen?
_-- Cesar Martinez, @CMart_091_

They apparently are talking to Hendriks. As for the timing, free agency is decided by the player, not the team. Players won the right to shop around. The market is slow. A small number of players have signed quickly. Other players might not be in the same hurry as the fans. Nobody even knows when the season will start. One reason why the Dodgers fill more holes via trade than free agency is that the clubs control the timing of trades, not the players. That’s how they landed Corey Knebel as a possible replacement for Treinen.

Is Gavin Lux worth more on the field or as trade fodder?
-- Cesar Arevalo, @CanyonCoachA

Dodgers management hasn’t given up on Lux. Not every top prospect becomes a National League Rookie of the Year Award winner like Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger did. Expect the club to provide Lux yet another runway in Spring Training to show he’s now ready for the big leagues, basically writing off the 2020 disappointment that included a late arrival to Summer Camp and appearing overmatched in his limited game action. Besides, his trade value is now discounted by his poor play. If there was a time to trade him, it was last winter.

Is Seager a third baseman or left fielder in a few more seasons?
-- Rudy Klancnik, @manifesto10

Kyle Seager is the third baseman in the family. Corey Seager has never shown any willingness to be anything other than a shortstop. Coming off the season he just had, fully healthy, there's no reason to think that will change any time soon, especially one year away from free agency and the payday of a lifetime. If the Dodgers hand out an extension to anybody, it will probably be Seager.

When are you hearing that MLB and the MLBPA will finally make some joint announcement regarding the designated hitter in the NL for the final year of the labor agreement in 2021? Seems like for the Dodgers, seeking to bring back Justin Turner for one year or multiple years hinges on that piece of knowledge (as well as for Turner to know whether to wait or sign with an American League team like Toronto).
-- Steve, Auburn, Wash.

I'm not sure bringing back Turner hinges on a DH in 2021, and I’m not sure that just because clubs have been told to assume there won’t be a DH in '21 necessarily means there won’t be. It’s a negotiating chip. It was given up to the players in '20, and take-backs in negotiations are uncommon. But at this time last year, nobody expected the NL to have a DH in '20, so don’t be surprised if there is one in '21. Whether in '21 or '22, the DH in the NL appears inevitable. Turner is 36 with arthritic knees, so the Dodgers need a future third baseman regardless. But he can still play there -- and at first base -- if carefully managed until the DH comes to the NL permanently. A multi-year offer from another club is a more likely deterrent to his return to the Dodgers than lack of the DH.

How many stars can the Dodgers really afford? Seager, Bellinger and Walker Buehler all have big paydays coming. Doesn’t that make trading for Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor very unlikely?
-- Gary Miller, @GaryMil20307826

You would think. Especially for a club that is committed to its youth, just won the World Series and reports that it lost more than $100 million this year. It’s nice to lead the league in superstars, but there isn’t a pressing need for another expensive game-changer. And that doesn’t take into account the talent the Dodgers would give up to get the stars you mentioned. It’s unlikely Los Angeles will again find an accommodating trade partner in Colorado or Cleveland as eager to hand them a superstar as the Red Sox were with Mookie Betts. An argument can be made that with Clayton Kershaw and Seager free agents at the end of 2021, there could be some payroll flexibility in the near future, but not in 2021. (Now that Kershaw’s workout buddy Chris Young is the Rangers' new GM, expect those Kershaw-to-Texas rumors to resurface).