Breaking down Dodgers' biggest roster decisions

October 30th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Juan Toribio’s Dodgers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

LOS ANGELES -- The World Series got underway over the weekend and the Dodgers have been forced to watch it from home for the third consecutive year. 

With the 2023 season ending in disappointment, the Dodgers have made it clear that they will look to be aggressive this winter in order to give themselves a chance to win the World Series next season. 

That work, of course, has already gotten started and will ramp up the moment the last out is recorded in the World Series. But before that happens, let’s take a look at an offseason FAQ, focusing on some of the biggest questions heading into the start of the winter. 

Which players are free agents?

The Dodgers will be busy this offseason, deciding between which of these players on a long list of free agents they’ll want to engage with for a reunion. Here’s the full list:

RHP Ryan Brasier, UTIL Kiké Hernández, OF Jason Heyward, LHP Clayton Kershaw, OF Jake Marisnick, DH J.D. Martinez, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Jimmy Nelson, OF David Peralta, INF Amed Rosario, LHP Julio Urías, INF Kolten Wong. 

Of these players, Brasier, Heyward, Kershaw, Martinez and Miller made the biggest impact. Brasier revived his career with Los Angeles and could be a popular reliever in the open market. Same goes for Heyward, who enjoyed his one-year experience with the Dodgers and turned into a vocal leader in the clubhouse. Kershaw, of course, will be the big one as he’ll have to decide whether he’s healthy enough to give it one more run or if this will be the end what is likely a Hall of Fame career. 

Martinez could be back with the Dodgers, but a lot of those conversations will depend on what happens with Shohei Ohtani, who would be any team’s designated hitter. Hernández was solid since the midseason trade and could be a good bench option moving forward. As for Urías, he is still on paid administrative leave while MLB continues to investigate his arrest for domestic violence.

Are any of them likely to receive qualifying offers, and what is the deadline for that?

The easy one on this list is Kershaw, but the Dodgers will likely not extend him one so the left-hander doesn’t feel rushed into a decision. Both sides have made it clear over the last two offseasons that this is the best way to operate. 

Qualifying offers are a one-year offer worth the mean salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players. The offers must be made by clubs five days after the World Series and the players have 10 days to decide whether or not to take it.

Which players have options?

RHP Daniel Hudson ($6.5 million club option), RHP Joe Kelly ($9.5 million club option, $1 million buyout), RHP Lance Lynn ($18 million club option, $1 million buyout), 3B Max Muncy ($10 million club option), RHP Alex Reyes ($3 million club option, $100,000 buyout), RHP Blake Treinen (conditional option, worth around $1 million). 

Hudson’s option could get picked up if the Dodgers believe the veteran right-hander could, finally, stay healthy in ‘24. Kelly and Lynn both have expensive options. Muncy’s option will likely get picked up after a bounce-back season. Reyes' option is unlikely to be picked up, and how it will play out with Treinen remains a mystery.

This has to be decided within five days after the end of the World Series.

Who might be a non-tender candidate, and when does the club have to make that decision?

RHP Wander Suero, RHP Tyler Cyr, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, RHP Yency Almonte are some of the non-tender candidates for the Dodgers. Yarbrough was solid for the club after getting traded from the Royals and could be a valuable length guy, especially this early in the offseason. Almonte was one of the team’s best relievers in ‘22. Cyr and Suero will likely not be tendered a contract before the Nov. 17 deadline. 

Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, and do they have a crunch for roster spots?

While there are some other players in the mix, the Dodgers will need to add RHP Nick Frasso, RHP Landon Knack, OF Jose Ramos and C  Hunter Feduccia to the 40-man roster this winter. Frasso, Knack and Feduccia should get added, while it remains to be seen whether Ramos will be added. The Dodgers had a chance to protect Ramos last offseason, but left him unprotected. It worked out as nobody selected the toolsy but raw outfielder in the Rule 5 Draft.

**What kind of help do they need and will they be active in free agency? Who might they target? Who might they be willing to trade? **

The biggest need is starting pitching, and the Dodgers need a lot of it. Bringing back Kershaw would definitely help, but the Dodgers need to look for a pair of frontline starters, which would help Walker Buehler ease back into action. 

Blake Snell, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Aaron Nola, Jordan Montgomery and a few others will be out there in free agency. Now it just depends how much money the Dodgers choose to spend in free agency. In the trade market, Corbin Burnes, Tyler Glasnow and Dylan Cease could become available. 

Outside of starting pitching, the Dodgers also need to add an outfield piece or two. They could also benefit from upgrading at shortstop as Miguel Rojas showed an elite glove but virtually nothing offensively. Gavin Lux should be back healthy, but it remains to be seen where the Dodgers see him defensively in his first year back from major knee surgery. If he’s healthy enough to play short, he would give the Dodgers a boost.