Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dodgers' Winter Meetings shopping list: Starting pitcher - Tanaka (or bust), Price, Garza

In the second of a four-part series, I look at who and what the Dodgers should be looking for when Monday's Winter Meetings come 'round.

I looked at third base on Friday, and they certainly won't need a shortstop if the rumors of a Hanley Ramirez contract extension are true (pretty sure they are).
  • Third base
  • Starting pitcher
  • Bench pieces
  • Left-handed RP and/or power right-handed RP
Masahiro Tanaka

There's really only one starting pitcher the Dodgers should be in on -- Tanaka. With the new posting system between Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball seemingly close, it may not be up to the Dodgers whether they want to go after Tanaka.

His parent club Rakuten Golden Eagles are said to be hesitant to post him because they'd only get $20 million in a posting fee.

All the money in the world couldn't change this fact. Under the new rules, MLB teams can post a maximum of $20 million for players posted by NPB clubs. If Tanaka isn't posted, he won't be a free agent until after the 2015 season. The Golden Eagles could choose to post him next winter if they want, but they also risk a year of taxing Japanese league pitching on the 25-year-old's arm. It's a gamble, but a gamble that might be worth it because he's the best pitcher in Japan.

I've written extensively about Tanaka here and at Yahoo Sports, so my thoughts should be well-known. I want the Dodgers to get this guy. I believe he's their No. 1 offseason target and would slot in quite nicely as the No. 4 starter (for now).

If he is posted, the Dodgers -- and probably 10-15 other teams (at least) -- will post $20 million to negotiate with him. In the end, the Dodgers should be able to beat out the likes of the Yankees, Cubs and Rangers. I predict a 6-year, $108 million deal.

David Price

Price might be the second-best left-handed pitcher in the game (behind that Clayton Kershaw fella). So, why am I hesitant for the Dodgers to go after him?

I wrote about it at Yahoo in October. Basically, the Dodgers would likely have to give up one of Corey Seager or Julio Urias, plus a combination of Joc Pederson, Zach Lee, Chris Reed and Chris Withrow. It just doesn't seem to make that much sense

Price is a luxury at this point, as is Tanaka. The difference is, Price would cost prospects, and the Dodgers seem hellbent on preserving the system (which is great).

The former Cy Young award winner will get traded this winter, it's just a matter of where he lands. After Robinson Cano signed his mega contract with the Mariners, I'd put my money on them. If they offer Taijuan Walker in a package for Price, there's almost no way the Dodgers could beat that.

Matt Garza

If the Dodgers must go the "real" free agent route, I guess Garza would be the best option. He struggled after being dealt from the Cubs to the Rangers, but he's a quality pitcher. He won't be worth whatever contract he gets, but he'll be a solid No. 3-4 starter for the next four-plus years.

The Garza market should heat up after Price is traded and it's determined whether Tanaka is posted. Then, he could be the most attractive free agent starter because there's no draft pick compensation tied to him like there is with Ervin Santna and Ubaldo Jimenez.

I wrote about starting pitcher options last month as well. They're not pretty.

Photo credit:WKnight94, Wikimedia Commons

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