Editor's note: I've decided to extend this to a five-part series. The added element is free agent pitching targets. Basically, I'm dividing up the free agent section of the series.
This Dodger off-season is just as unsure as the last. The team did not sign any big free agents during the 2009 winter and despite General Manager Ned Colletti's statement the Dodgers would raise payroll, I wouldn't hold my breath, especially after signing Lilly to a $33 million, 3-year contract.
But still, it's fun to speculate.
The Dodgers need power. Period. Andre Ethier seemed primed to break out before breaking his pinkie early in the season. Matt Kemp regressed and James Loney's power may never develop. Casey Blake, despite hitting 17 home runs, had a down year.
Here are some of free agent position players the Dodgers could be interested in.
Catcher - This is only a need if the Dodgers non-tender Martin. They could go with the in-house platoon of Rod Barajas and A.J. Ellis, which wouldn't be that far-fetched.
John Buck, TOR
.281/.314/.489, 20 HR, 66 RBI
- Buck is the consolation prize in the catcher market, which makes it unlikely the Dodgers will make a play for him. He made the All-Star team this season, but only played in 118 games.
Victor Martinez, BOS
.302/.351/.493, 20 HR, 79 RBI
- Martinez is the prize. He's destined for first base in the future, but he has another season or two left behind the dish. His bat is great, his glove isn't. And the Red Sox are probably going to keep him anyway.
Miguel Olivo*, COL
.269/.315/.449, 14 HR, 58 RBI
- Olivo isn't much of an upgrade for what he might get on the open market.
Others: Ramon Hernandez, CIN; A.J. Pierzynski, CWS; Jason Varitek, BOS
- Varitek could be worth a look as a backup. Hernandez and Pierzynski will get starting jobs elsewhere.
What to do: Go with Barajas and Ellis and invest the money Russell Martin would have made in another position.
First Base - This depends on whether or not the Dodgers decide to keep Loney in the fold.
Adam Dunn, WAS
.260/.356/.536, 38 HR, 103 RBI
- A poor defensive player overall, Dunn will command a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal on the open market. He could be signed to play left field, too.
Aubrey Huff, SF
.290/.385/.506, 26 HR, 86 RBI
- Huff enjoyed a great bounce-back season in 'Frisco. He isn't great with the glove, but he's acceptable. He can play a corner outfield position, if needed. The Giants probably won't let him get away.
Adam LaRoche, ARI
.261/.320/.468, 25 HR, 100 RBI
- LaRoche eclipsed his career-high in RBI (100), but he actually had one of his worst seasons since 2007, according to OPS+ (106 after 122 the previous three seasons).
Paul Konerko, CWS
.312/.393/.584, 39 HR, 111 RBI
- Konerko had a fantastic season. In fact, it was a career-best season for the one-time Dodger. He's entering his age-35 season, so a long-term deal for him is risky. I don't see the Dodgers being contenders for his services.
Others: Lyle Overbay, TOR; Carlos Pena, TB; Ty Wigginton, BAL
- Overbay isn't an upgrade over Loney, Pena cannot hit the ball and Wigginton is a platoon player.
I'm a Loney backer. However, after last season's second-half decline, I've lost a little confidence in him. I'd still rather the Dodgers improve elsewhere, as his glove is almost invaluable at first base.
What to do: Take a look at Dunn, but look to upgrade elsewhere.
Middle Infield - Almost anyone is an upgrade over Theriot, but the 2B crop is pretty awful this year. Furcal, unless traded, will be the Dodgers' opening day SS.
Mark Ellis*, OAK
.291/.358/.381, 5 HR, 49 RBI
- Ellis is a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman. However, he has a $6 million club option with Oakland, which is surprisingly affordable for the A's. It isn't guaranteed he'll have it picked up, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
Orlando Hudson, MIN
.268/.338/.372, 6 HR, 37 RBI
- The former Dodger will not be coming back to L.A. He had a down year in 2010 after returning to the American league.
Juan Uribe, SF
.248/.310/.440, 24 HR, 85 RBI
- I've seen other blogs mention Uribe as an acquisition. While it pains me to say it, he would be a good utility player. Like Huff, though, I'd be shocked if 'Frisco lets him go.
J.J. Hardy, MIN
.268/.320/.394, 6 HR, 38 RBI
- Hardy was an All-Star in Milwaukee and many thought a change of scenery to Minnesota would help. It did not. Hardy could be a valuable utility player, as he can play all three infield positions. This is one guy I'd really like the Dodgers to sign.
Others: Adam Kennedy, OAK; Jerry Hairston, Jr., SD; Bill Hall*, BOS; Jose Lopez*, SEA; Omar Infante*, ATL
What to do: I'd love to see Hardy in the fold as a super utility player, with most of his playing time coming at 2B. Hall, if he hits the market, could be that kind of guy, too. Theriot could return, but at a salary closer to what he earned in 2010.
Third Base - If the Dodgers spend big, it should be here... on an old friend.
Adrian Beltre*, BOS
.321/.365/.553, 28 HR, 102 RBI (AL-leading 49 2Bs)
- Beltre didn't put up 2004 numbers, but he was one of the best signings of last off-season. Not only did his bat return, but he is still one of the best defensive 3Bs in baseball. If the Dodgers want to bring in one big-time free agent, this should be the guy. He has a $10 million player option that he will almost certainly decline.
Jorge Cantu, FLA-TEX
.256/.304/.392, 11 HR, 56 RBI
- Cantu re-energized his career in Florida, but had a poor 2010. A trade to the soon-to-be-champion Texas Rangers (hopefully) didn't help his production. At this point, I'd rather just go with Blake for 135-140 games.
Brandon Inge, DET
.247/.321/.397, 13 HR, 70 RBI
- Inge isn't a prototypical 3B. He hasn't had an OPS+ of league-average since 2005 (when it was 100). His career OPS+ is 85, which isn't an improvement over Blake.
Aramis Ramirez*, CHC
.241/.294/.452, 25 HR, 83 RBI
- Ramirez had a woeful start to the 2010 season. However, when the Cubs came to L.A. before the All-Star Break, he started to heat up. He has a player option for 2011 and team option for 2012 -- he's not going anywhere.
Miguel Tejada, BAL-SD
.269/.312/.381, 15 HR, 71 RBI
- Tejada is in the twilight of his career. He's best suited for utility duty. He isn't much of a third-base option for L.A.
Others: Pedro Feliz, HOU-STL; Maicer Izturis, ANA; Melvin Mora, COL
- None of these guys would be an upgrade over Blake. Izturis is sure to be a hot commodity in the utility man market.
What to do: Beltre or bust. It's that simple.
Outfield - With Kemp (if he isn't traded) and Ethier, the Dodgers need just one more outfielder. Scott Podesednik is the odds-on favorite to be the starting left fielder, despite it being the wrong move.
Carl Crawford, TB
.307/.356/.495, 19 HR, 90 RBI
- After Cliff Lee, Crawford is the best free agent available. He will get a huge contract from another team -- potentially the Red Sox or Angels. He'd look great in Dodger Blue, but it isn't happening.
Johnny Damon, DET
.271/.355/.401, 8 HR, 51 RBI
- At this stage in his career, Damon wouldn't be much of an upgrade of Podsednik. He likes Detroit and it's likely he'll stay there.
Vladimir Guerrero*, TEX
.300/.345/.496, 29 HR, 115 RBI
- Maybe if this were 2004. Vlad seems to have found a new home in Texas.
Jayson Werth, PHI
.296/.388/.532, 27 HR, 85 RBI (NL-leading 46 2Bs)
- Another former Dodger, eh? Ironically, he might be the best fit of all. However, his time in L.A. didn't end well and it remains to be seen if he would return... and if Frank McCourt would pay what it would cost to land Werth. His home-road splits since going to Philadelphia are cause for future success, though (2010 OPS: .999 at home, .838 on the road).
Others: Pat Burrell, TB-SF; Coco Crisp*, OAK; Brad Hawpe, COL-TB; Xavier Nady, CHC; Marcus Thames, NYY
- Burrell, Nady and Thames would be right-handed platoon partners with a lefty (Podsednik?), Crisp (if he hits the open market) would shore up the outfield defense (Kemp to RF, Ethier to LF) and Hawpe wouldn't be able to do damage against the Dodgers.
What to do: Gauge Werth's interest if the Dodgers fail to land Beltre. Otherwise, just go with a lefty-righty platoon in left field -- preferably with Thames as the righty.
Next up: Free agent targets - pitchers