Ten free agents the Dodgers should consider signing
The Dodgers need help. On that, all can agree. They have holes in left field and at catcher, and they could use an upgrade at second base. They need two starting pitchers and bullpen help.
The free-agent signing period is underway, and for the Dodgers and the rest, it is a regrettably weak field. There’s nothing ready in the Dodgers' system that can make a difference, so they have to take a strong look at a thin market.
Here are 10 guys for the Dodgers to consider. Maybe they really target only one or two. And this doesn’t take into consideration what they might be able to pull in with a trade, but these are guys worth taking a look at, in no particular order:
1) Carl Crawford, outfielder: OK, I’m starting with the most unlikely signing. He’s going to pull in a $100-million deal, and it’s not like that was Frank McCourt’s specialty even pre-divorce trial.
But if you are holding out hope that McCourt is willing to do something dramatic to renew fans' faith, this is the best option. Crawford's middling power makes him less than an ideal fit, but he’s a badly needed run producer, he plays left field, he can bat second or third in the lineup, and he is reasonably young (29).
The Dodgers can’t just surrender him to the Yankees or Red Sox without at least making some kind of effort.
Has some pop (24 home runs), plays a decent defensive second base, is only 30, and did I mention it would be stealing him from the Giants?
3) John Buck, catcher: There is just no way the Dodgers can count on Russell Martin as their everyday catcher. There are several free-agent ways to go behind the plate (Victor Martinez, A.J. Pierzynski, Miguel Olivo), but this seems like a reasonable fit.
Buck is coming off his best offensive year (.281, 20 home runs, 66 runs batted in) and is strong defensively.
4) Hiroki Kuroda, starting pitcher: Yep, the Dodgers' very own. What he truly wants to do -- return to Japan, re-sign with the Dodgers, test the market -- remains unknown.
He has had injury issues, he will be 36 at the start of next season and he will have to sign for a lot less than he made last season ($15.4 million), but if he’s willing to re-up at a reasonable rate, he still makes an excellent No. 4 starter.
5) Jake Westbrook, starting pitcher: Would make a nice fifth starter. Seems recovered from elbow surgery, though it should still keep down the number of years for which he will be able to sign.
6) Rafael Soriano, closer: Maybe a closer doesn’t seem like a priority, but signing Soriano would have a nice domino effect. It would mean pushing Jonathan Broxton back to a set-up role and not having to depend on fragile-elbowed Hong-Chih Kuo.
Soriano turns 31 next month, but he might have been baseball’s best closer last season (45 saves, 3-2, 1.73 earned-run average).
7) Joaquin Benoit, relief pitcher: Soriano’s set-up man might have been the steal signing of the last off-season. He was coming off shoulder surgery and had sat out 2009, but he pitched 60 impressive innings and posted a 1.34 ERA and a 0.680 WHIP.
8) Adam Dunn, first base: Not likely, considering the contract he’ll probably pull in, but we’re talking about guys the Dodgers need to take a swing on. And since he hit 38 home runs and they need power, they at least need to take a look.
He’s fairly brutal in the outfield, so his signing would probably mean moving James Loney to the outfield or dealing him. Yes, Dunn and Matt Kemp might have a strikeout contest, but I repeat, he hit 38 home runs. In consecutive seasons.
9) Grant Balfour, relief pitcher: Because I apparently have a thing for Tampa Bay relievers. There also is his 2.28 ERA and 1.084 WHIP in 55 1/3 innings.
10) Vicente Padilla, starting pitcher: Because saying goodbye is so hard to do.
-- Steve Dilbeck