SAN DIEGO - The 2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings are coming to a close. After several days of big free-agent signings in Southern California, the Dodgers' big ticket acquisition so far was... a $10 million lottery ticket in reliever Blake Treinen. To be clear, I think that's an outstanding high-reward signing, it's just that it's not exactly what most Dodgers fans likely had in mind. Especially in light of how much this year's frenzied Winter Meetings contrasted with last year's, it has to be somewhat of an empty feeling in Dodgers nation.
Stephen Strasburg signed a deal to remain with the Nationals. Gerrit Cole went to the Yankees after the Dodgers' bid came up short. Anthony Rendon went to the Angels and the Dodgers didn't make a final offer because they reportedly got the feeling they couldn't land him.
The Dodgers have the resources to make the big deals necessary to land any of those three players, yet they'll all be playing elsewhere on Opening Day 2020.
The Dodgers have won the NL West seven straight times, and that run that includes two pennants. It also, most notably, does not include any World Series rings.
At some point, shouldn't they just go bonkers in the offseason? It seems like that's what the Yankees decided. No rings since 2009? Fine, we'll just go well north of $300 million for Cole.
On the other side of the country, the Dodgers are slightly more conservative. They do run incredibly high payrolls and aren't cheap by any means, but they are more constrained, both in trades and free agency.
On the trade front, they still have a shot at a big splash. Word is they are talking trade with the Indians regarding superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor. Again, though, they have the chance to play it safe. Instead of saving money in this case, they'd be saving top prospect Gavin Lux. Lux has been unavailable in the past and that's reportedly part of the package the Indians seek in return.
If the Dodgers do trade for Lindor, they'd have him at short with Corey Seager moving to third and Justin Turner moving to right side of the infield. It'd be one of the best infields in baseball. They should be trying to win now.
At some point, it's time to stop holding back. It's been seven years of ending October with a loss. The Dodgers still have plenty of decisions to make this winter, and here are six possible avenues they can take before spring training:
1. Trade for Francisco Lindor
If the package of Lux and starting pitcher Dustin May is what the Indians want, just pull the trigger. Lindor has two years left before free agency and there's a good chance the Dodgers would be able to extend him with their resources. They have plenty of infield and pitching depth to absorb the losses of Lux and May. Those guys are likely future stars. Lindor is a current superstar. Again, stop holding back.
2. Trade for Kris Bryant
This is the best fit for Kris Bryant from the Cubs' perspective. The Dodgers could send them two big-league ready pitchers (a la May) and a big-league ready bat or two. They have so much prospect and young big-league depth it would work. On the Dodgers' end, Bryant is just another guy who can play multiple positions. It would be a huge splash and it makes sense for both sides.
3. Sign Josh Donaldson
We already know that Turner is willing to move across the infield and since Rendon is gone, why not grab Donaldson to play third? The argument against would be that the Dodgers think Lux will be a better player moving forward. Donaldson is 34 years old, so it's possible someone has that valuation. The window to win it all is now, though, and Donaldson just put up 6.1 WAR.
4. Bring back Hyun-Jin Ryu
Hyun-Jin Ryu is still out there in free agency and there's a familiarity here. I'm not sure this is "big splash" territory, but he makes them better for sure.
5. Sign Madison Bumgarner
Well this would be weird, but there was a report that the Dodgers were turning their focus to former Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. As I wrote on Monday, it's hard to gauge what Bumgarner has left in the tank. The good news for the Dodgers is that he'd only be counted on as a mid-rotation guy. Still, missing out on Cole and landing on Bumgarner feels like a half-measure. Speaking of which ...
6. Stand (mostly) pat
That is, do nothing huge and only add at the margins. Stuff like the Treinen deal.
Look, the Dodgers are the best team in the NL West as things stand. The playoffs are mostly a crapshoot. While I think they are at the point where they should be going crazy and trying to buy a title, there's an argument that this team as currently constructed could well win the World Series. Then Friedman and company are vindicated.
Then again, they might lose Game 7 to Gerrit Cole and the Yankees. And then we're right back here talking the same talk next Winter Meetings.