For the first time in what seems like forever, the Los Angeles Dodgers enter the offseason with some questions. Who will play shortstop for them next season? Will long-time third baseman Justin Turner be back? Who will be the closer? And maybe most importantly, who will fill out the starting rotation?
Now this last one is intriguing because right now, the Dodgers don’t have a ton of great options at the helm. Clayton Kershaw is reportedly back in the mix on a one-year deal and they still have Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, and Dustin May. But that’s it. Ace Walker Buehler is likely to miss most of, it not all, of the 2023 season as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery and Tyler Anderson left the team for Anaheim.
President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has made it clear that pitching will be an emphasis for this team during the offseason and rumors have been swirling about reigning American League CY Young winner, Justin Verlander possibly joining the team.
How high up the agenda is for the #Dodgers to get starting pitching this winter?
"Very," Andrew Friedman said.
— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) November 9, 2022
Verlander, who missed the 2020 and 2021 seasons with injury, came back with a vengence and won the CY Young in 2022. He posted a 1.75 earned run average and went 18-4 overall. He helped the Houston Astros secure another championship in the process. So why are so many Dodger fans skeptical about Verlander joining the team? It’s simple, his age.
Verlander will be 40-years-old next season and he is likely to demand a heafty contract thus winter. Reports have said that he is looking for something along the lines of what Max Scherzer received from the New York Mets last season. So whoever lands the pitcher will be paying him about $40 million a year.
The Dodgers make sense for Verlander for a few reasons. They have always preferred shorter term contracts with a higher AAV and for a player like Verlander that could be perfect. He likely isn’t going to play many more seasons so he could cash in with Los Angeles, while also playing for a contending team each year. Add in the fact that Verlander is married to actress Kate Upton and a move to Hollywood seems like a perfect fit.
Verlander has seemed happy during his time in Houston so many around baseball have questioned whether or not, he truly would leave the Astros. If he does indeed leave, the Dodgers make the most sense. He would fill a need for the team in the starting rotation for the next season or two, even at his age. He and Kershaw could also teach some of the younger pitchers coming up in the system a thing or two. It’s a win-win really.
The only downside to this move for Los Angeles would be the amount of money being spent on an older player. However, Verlander just won the CY Young after missing the previous two seasons so even though his stuff isn’t as electric as it used to be, the skill is still there. There was a clear drop off in some parts of his game but the guy just knows how to pitch.
Verlander will ultimantly decide what is best for his family and himself but the Dodgers present a very interesting choice for him. Even if this move doesn’t work out, Los Angeles can get out of it pretty quickly due to the contract likely being two or three years. The Dodgers have the money to spend on a player like Verlander and after the way they were bounced in the playoffs, could use him on the staff this coming season.