Rosenthal: Dodgers “most willing” to trade James Loney

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We’ve heard Matt Kemp bandied about in some trade talk, mostly of the silly Hot Stove variety, but major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that James Loney is the position player the Dodgers are “most willing” to trade.

Loney batted just .267/.329/.395 with 10 homers, 88 RBI and a 723 OPS this past season, poor production from a first baseman. The 26-year-old has topped 88 RBI in three consecutive seasons, but hasn’t had more than 13 homers or a 772 OPS since 2007. The 26-year-old agreed to a one-year, $3.1 million contract in his first go-around in arbitration this past January, so he’s in line to make even more this winter.

The free agent market is fairly deep as far as power hitting first basemen are concerned, so the Dodgers could make a trade to attempt to upgrade either at third base or in left field. One scenario Rosenthal paints is that the Dodgers could turn to a left field platoon featuring Jay Gibbons and Casey Blake. 37-year-old Blake in left field? Ouch. No thank you.

I suppose you could throw Loney in there as a non-tender candidate, but I believe he will be offered a contract, even if the Dodgers are unable to find a trade partner. It’s interesting that Rosenthal hears that Loney is the position player the Dodgers are “most willing” to trade when they also have Russell Martin under team control. Martin, who underwent hip surgery in August and has underperformed in each of the past two seasons, could make around $6 million in arbitration this winter.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.