The deal is still pending a physical and the club has not yet confirmed it.
Once the deal becomes official, the Dodgers still have a few things to figure out with their roster. Signing Bauer was the biggest splash of the offseason, but the Dodgers still have some questions to answer. The Dodgers are looking for a right-handed bat and they’re facing some tough payroll decisions over the next couple of years.
Let’s take a look at what’s next for the Dodgers this offseason.
What happens with Justin Turner?
With three MVPs and three Cy Young winners, there aren’t many holes in the Dodgers’ roster and they’re clear favorites to win the NL West. One hole, however, is the lack of a right-handed hitter in the middle of the lineup, preferably at third base.
Turner and the Dodgers have been in communication throughout the offseason and the Dodgers have long been considered the favorite to land the longtime Dodger. Even with the club blowing past the $210 million
The holdup between the Dodgers and Turner remains the length of the deal. Turner reportedly wants a three- or four-year deal, while the Dodgers would like to bring him back on a one- or two-year deal, given the fact that it appears that there won’t be a universal DH in place in 2021.
Los Angeles explored trade options earlier this offseason and was interested in Marcus Semien before he signed with the Blue Jays on a one-year, $18 million deal. The Dodgers were also interested in Marcell Ozuna, who signed with the Braves on Friday on a four-year deal. LA offered Ozuna a two-year deal, according to a source close to the situation.
A deeper look at the salaries
The Dodgers could look for ways to shed payroll before the start of the season, possibly shopping David Price around, but the club will undoubtedly be over the CBT threshold this season. The question is, by how much?
As things stand now, Bauer pushed the Dodgers about $28 million over the $210 million threshold. If the Dodgers are able to add Turner and keep the rest of the roster intact, the Dodgers could surpass the $250 million mark, which would activate a 42.5% tax penalty and their highest selection in the MLB Draft would be moved back 10 places.
But while the Dodgers could see a big tax hit in 2021, the club feels like they still have some financial flexibility moving forward even after adding Bauer to a record deal. The reluctance to offer Turner or Ozuna more than two years has a lot to do with some of the players the Dodgers have to pay in the coming offseasons.
At the end of the 2021 season, Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor and Corey Knebel will come off the books. Between those five players, the Dodgers will be freed of just under $78 million. Re-signing Seager will certainly be a priority in a strong free-agent market in ‘22, and the club will have to make a decision on Kershaw in what could end up being the last free-agent deal of his career.
Regardless of what happens next offseason, the Dodgers have another chunk of money scheduled to come off the books after the 2022 season. David Price’s $32 million contract will come off the payroll and Bauer could opt out after ’22, clearing $17 million for ’23. Los Angeles, however, will have to find a way to sign Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler.
There will be a lot of moving parts over the next few seasons, but the Dodgers believe they can stay aggressive in the free-agent and trade markets, even after giving Bauer his record deal on Friday. The numbers seem to back that up.
What happens with Dustin May, Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin?
Adding Bauer not only gives the Dodgers the best rotation in the Majors, it also gives the pitching staff the most depth. After playing a 60-game season in 2020, the Dodgers are prioritizing added pitching depth, even more so than during a normal season, due to the uncertainties of going back to a 162-game season during a pandemic.
Health permitting, Bauer, Kershaw, Buehler and Price appear to be locks in the rotation. Behind them, the Dodgers now have the ability to get very creative with the rest of the staff.
Urías would appear to be the logical pick to be a fixture in the rotation. The left-hander went 3-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts) last season. He’ll get the bulk of opportunities as a starter this season, but could be used in creative ways at times during the season.
Things get a lot more interesting when it comes to May and Gonsolin. On occasion, the Dodgers would love to give Kershaw and Price an extra day of rest in order to keep them fresh throughout the season. That’s where May and Gonsolin come into play.
Both May and Gonsolin have starting experience and could easily slot into a spot start. When not making starts, they could be used as multi-inning high-leverage relievers. There’s also the possibility that one of the two pitchers starts the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, giving the Dodgers added insurance in case of injury.