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5 key Dodgers offseason questions

@kengurnick
October 29, 2020

Right now, the biggest question the Dodgers face is how to celebrate a World Series win with a city during a pandemic (parade postponed indefinitely). But soon enough, the front office will turn its attention to these: 1. What happens to Justin Turner and third base? The positive COVID-19 test

Right now, the biggest question the Dodgers face is how to celebrate a World Series win with a city during a pandemic (parade postponed indefinitely).

But soon enough, the front office will turn its attention to these:

1. What happens to Justin Turner and third base?
The positive COVID-19 test and potential discipline adds another layer to an already-complicated situation the Dodgers face with the player known as “the heart and soul of the club.” Considering his play on the field, impact in the clubhouse, adoration by Dodger Nation and charitable involvement in Southern California, where he resides year-round, Turner has been just about the perfect Dodger.

But he’ll be 36 next month, his knees are arthritic and his power and defensive metrics are slipping in the wrong direction. Turner is an ideal candidate for a league that has a designated hitter, but will that be the National League in 2021? This will likely be his last shot at a multiyear decent payday, but will a front office so wedded to analytics overpay an aging star? Will he take a discount to stay home? And if he leaves, is Edwin Ríos enough to replace him?

What to know: Dodgers 2020 offseason FAQ

2. What’s the next chapter for Kenley Jansen and the back end of the bullpen?
While age has diminished Jansen’s consistency, it’s also brought the maturity to work on what he can change and accept what he cannot. He earns $20 million in 2021, the final year of his contract. He remains the leader of the bullpen and a workhorse whose arm has been remarkably sound considering the high-leverage mileage. Management prefers to run a bullpen by matchups and not titles, and Jansen gave every indication during the postseason that he can deal with that in the name of winning.

Champs in their own right: 'Relief' for L.A. vets

As for high leverage, Blake Treinen has probably earned a multi-year deal somewhere else. Joe Kelly has proved too erratic for the ninth inning. Brusdar Graterol throws 102 mph, which is fun to watch, but he’s not trusted against left-handed hitters.

3. What’s the deal with Gavin Lux and second base?
In back-to-back Septembers, the Dodgers have given their top position prospect every opportunity to show what Corey Seager did with the same opportunity four years ago -- that he’s ready to be a starting infielder on a talented team. But unlike Seager, who seized the moment and was the National League Rookie of the Year, Lux has looked overmatched both times and wasn’t even on the World Series roster. The ability is there, but something’s missing, and management must decide whether to give Lux the job again come Spring Training, settle on a platoon headed by Chris Taylor, or find someone else, especially with fallback option Enrique Hernández possibly leaving as a free agent.

4. David Price, COVID-19 and the starting rotation?
This encompasses world events well beyond even the vast capabilities of the Dodgers’ front office. If the pandemic still rages next year, will Price play? Complicating the question is that the Dodgers need to know sooner than later to avoid a repeat of his late decision not to play, so they can replace him if needed. For now, the Dodgers have enough starters with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Victor González. But having a healthy and rested Price provides the flexibility of using Urías or May as late-inning weapons (as they did with Urías in October).

5. Moving on from Kiké and Joc?
Platoon players rarely get the chance to score life-changing multi-year contracts, but being free agents coming off a World Series win could be good timing for Hernández and Joc Pederson. Hernández plays Gold Glove-caliber second base, has a power arm in the outfield and has repeatedly shown he’s October clutch. That’s an attractive package for a club looking to upgrade without breaking the bank, so he should have offers from which to choose. Zach McKinstry is a feel-good longshot story to replace him at a fraction of the cost if Hernández leaves.

Pederson had a disappointing season, but like Hernández, he's a postseason producer with even more power, although only against right-handed pitching. Matt Beaty could compete to be his replacement.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.