Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers

Diving into the depths: Los Angeles Dodgers

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Chad Billingsley
3. Ted Lilly
4. Hiroki Kuroda
5. Jon Garland
6. Vicente Padilla
7. John Ely
8. Blake Hawksworth
9. Carlos Monasterios
10. Dana Eveland
11. Tim Redding
12. Chris Withrow

I realize I like the top five more than most, but this is the obvious strength of the Dodgers, and they even have plenty of depth here even though most of their prospects took step backwards last season. Padilla is probably the game’s best sixth starter, and Ely is another nice arm to have in reserve.

Bullpen
1. Jonathan Broxton
2. Hong-Chih Kuo
3. Matt Guerrier
4. Kenley Jansen
5. Ramon Troncoso
6. Vicente Padilla
7. Blake Hawksworth
8. Travis Schlichting
9. Ronald Belisario
10. Carlos Monasterios
11. Scott Elbert
12. Josh Lindblom
13. Jon Link
14. Tim Redding
15. Oscar Villarreal
16. Roman Colon
17. Jon Huber

The bullpen should also be very good, though it’d help plenty if Broxton returned to 2009 form. If that doesn’t happen, they’re going to need Kuo to stay healthy again and take over the closer’s role. … Belisario, who was so effective in posting a 2.04 ERA in 70 2/3 innings as a rookie in 2009, seems unlikely to make the team and could be part of a trade this spring.

Catcher
1. Rod Barajas
2. Dioner Navarro
3. A.J. Ellis
4. Hector Gimenez
5. J.D. Closser

First base
1. James Loney
2. Jay Gibbons
3. John Lindsey
4. Marcus Thames

Second base
1. Juan Uribe
2. Jamey Carroll
3. Ivan DeJesus
4. Justin Sellers

Third base
1. Casey Blake
2. Jamey Carroll
3. Juan Uribe
4. Russ Mitchell
5. Justin Sellers

Shortstop
1. Rafael Furcal
2. Juan Uribe
3. Jamey Carroll
4. Ivan DeJesus
5. Juan Castro

Given that it’s always easy to find a cheap second baseman, it looks like the Dodgers really blew it by spending big on Uribe over the winter. Only Furcal from this group projects as anything more than an average regular and he’s missed big chunks of two of the last three seasons. Uribe is supposed to offer help there, since he can slide to shortstop if Furcal gets hurt. However, he’s not much of a defender there these days.

Left field
1. Jay Gibbons
2. Marcus Thames
3. Tony Gwynn Jr.
4. Xavier Paul
5. Gabe Kapler
6. Jamie Hoffmann
7. Trent Oeltjen
8. Eugenio Velez

Center field
1. Matt Kemp
2. Tony Gwynn Jr.
3. Eugenio Velez
4. Trayvon Robinson

Right field
1. Andre Ethier
2. Xavier Paul
3. Gabe Kapler
4. Jamie Hoffmann
5. Trent Oeltjen
6. Tony Gwynn Jr.
7. Eugenio Velez

The Dodgers have given themselves plenty of options in left field, but none of them are very attractive at all. If Gibbons can post an 800 OPS against right-handers, then a platoon of him and Thames wouldn’t be too bad. However, putting those two in left would leave the Dodgers with one of the game’s worst defensive outfields. Ideally, Paul would step up and win the job. If not, the team might just be better off sticking Gwynn in center and putting defense first.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.