If you ask a Los Angeles Dodgers fan “Who’s on first?”, the answer is quite simple. Adrian Gonzalez is set to enter his sixth year with the club, holding down first base. But if you shift one position over, second base, the answer is a lot more cloudy. For a team who expects to make another push for the postseason, it is a question they are going to need to figure out shortly.
Earlier this winter, the Dodgers traded Howie Kendrick to the Philadelphia Phillies. Last year’s primary second baseman, Chase Utley, is currently a free agent. So as it stands right now, Enrique “Kike” Hernandez is the man holding down the starting role. Behind him, the big league roster does not really have anyone to fill in either.
For those of you who are not familiar with Hernandez, let me give you a brief overview. In 2016, he hit .190 with seven homers, two stolen bases, and 18 RBIs over the course of 109 Major League games. He is a super-utility type of player, as he played second base, third base, shortstop and the outfield last season, with left field being his most common position. And when playoff time rolled around, he was left off the Dodgers’ NLDS roster in 2016.
Now, he is in position to be their starting second baseman? Not so fast. There is a reason the Dodgers are actively looking for a second base upgrade. Hernandez can easily slide into his usual utility role upon the acquisition of a new second baseman. The club also does not have any big time prospects at the position that will be ready to make an impact this season. Willie Calhoun could be ready in terms of his bat, but his poor defense certainly is not ready for the bigs. A position shift, likely to left field, is in the near future.
That brings us to the Dodgers and their hunt on the trade market. As things stand right now, there are three names the Dodgers appear to be circling in trade talks. Those names include Brian Dozier, Ian Kinsler and Logan Forsythe. So which of the three is the most likely to be wearing Dodger blue come opening day?
First up we have Brian Dozier. It seems like the Dodgers have been connected to the soon to be 30 year old Dozier all offseason. Of the three, he would certainly cost the Dodgers the most in terms of prospects. He has two seasons left on his deal, and at affordable rates. He is also coming off a career year, batting .268 with 42 homers and slugging .546. It is the perfect time for the Minnesota Twins to move him, as I stated here. The only real question is whether or not the Dodgers would be willing to pay the steep price the Twins are asking. As things stand, talks appear to be stalled, and the Dodgers may be ready to move on. You can read more on the situation here.
The next team the Dodgers may turn to is the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers stated early in the offseason they were willing to shake things up, even if that has not come to pass. 2017 will be the last guaranteed year on the 34 year old Kinsler’s contract. Given his age and contract, he will not cost nearly as much in terms of prospects compared to Dozier. But he is not going to come dirt cheap either, as the Tigers do plan to contend in 2017, meaning they will not give a 28 home run hitter away for peanuts. But the biggest hurtle to overcome in a deal for Kinsler revolves around his no-trade clause. The no-trade clause has given Kinsler and his agent the leverage to require an extension, or at least an early pick up of his 2018 club option, in order to approve a deal. So will the Dodgers be willing to make that happen?
Assuming that plus the prospects it would take to require the Tiger’s second baseman is too much of an asking price, it could be the Tampa Bay Rays who benefit. Andrew Friedman, who is the President of Baseball Operations for the Dodgers, is very familiar with the club down in Tampa, as that is where he came from before joining the Dodgers. If I were the Dodgers, I would be putting more time into looking at Logan Forsythe compared to Kinsler. Forsythe is set to turn 30 this month, which puts him roughly four and a half years younger than the Tiger. He also has one year left on his deal plus a club option, but at a lower price. 2016 saw him hit .264 with 20 home runs and slug .444. In terms of prospects, he will likely come at a similar price as Kinsler.
There is also the possibility that the club brings back Utley. But he will be entering his age 38 season, and is certainly past his prime. Bringing in Utley to be the primary second baseman does not seem like the wise move at this point in time. The only benefit would be he would come at the cheapest price.
When all is said and done, I think Friedman and the Dodgers’ front office will play match-maker with the Rays. Logan Forsythe is my pick to be playing second base for the Dodgers in the coming season, as he slots between Adrian Gonzalez and Corey Seager.