Dodgers meet with Justin Verlander as they pursue pitching

The Dodgers are looking for another starting pitcher.

And on Monday they spoke to one of the biggest names in the market.

According to a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly, Justin Verlander had a meeting with the Dodgers that marked the team’s latest attempt to woo the free-agent superstar and bolster his rotation.

With Walker Buehler likely out for all of next year following Tommy John’s surgery, the starting rotation remains one of the Dodgers’ top priorities this winter.

“In an ideal world, we can bring Kersh back,” Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, said of Clayton Kershaw at this month’s general manager meetings, “and then address another starter and just keep some depth to help us through a.” season to lead.”

Kershaw’s return is almost complete, and the team and the veteran left-hander just need to secure a new deal for the future Hall of Famer.

The Dodgers also have plenty of young depth, with prospects like Ryan Pepiot (who pitched nine games last season), Gavin Stone (the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year) and Bobby Miller (the MLB’s highest-ranking pitching prospect). clubs). Pipeline) are expected to fight for opportunities next year.

But for the time being there remains a hole in the rotation. And with winter meetings set to begin next week, there are several options the team could pursue.

Verlander is one of the most striking destinations. Despite turning 40 next season and missing all of 2021 due to Tommy John surgery, the right-hander returned with a bang, going 18-4 for the Houston Astros with a major league-leading earned run -Average of 1.75 to earn his third Cy Young Award.

He could make sense for the Dodgers as he’s likely to land a short-term, high-annual deal that the team preferred to forgive – MLB Trade Rumors projects Verlander to a three-year deal in the region of $120 million. He also doesn’t come with a qualifying offer, meaning the Dodgers wouldn’t have to sacrifice a draft pick to sign him.

Most notably, Verlander would give the club the ace he will lack in Buehler and bolster a rotation expected to include Kershaw, Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May.

There will be a lot of competition for Verlander’s signature. Even if he doesn’t return to the Astros — who have reportedly been reluctant to give him a three-year contract, according to the Houston Chronicle — the pitcher has attracted interest from the New York Mets, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves.

All three are championship contenders capable of bidding for Verlanders and could offer a contract richer than the Dodgers are willing.

If that turns out to be the case, the Dodgers will have to consider other alternatives.

Left-hander Carlos Rodón is a free agent after a strong season with the San Francisco Giants and has received interest from the Dodgers, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Japanese right-hander Kodai Senga makes the leap to North America and is another pitcher the Dodgers have been talking about. General Manager Brandon Gomes called Senga “really talented” when asked about the soon-to-be 30-year-old at GM meetings.

Japan's Kodai Senga plays against Israel during the 2017 World Baseball Classic in Tokyo.

Japan’s Kodai Senga plays against Israel during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at the Tokyo Dome.

(Toru Takahashi/Associated Press)

Several other established starters are also available in free agency such as Chris Bassitt, Jameson Taillon and Taijuan Walker.

And then there’s Jacob deGrom, the two-time Cy Young winner who is expected to pull off a massive deal despite his injury history.

“Really talented group,” said Gomes. “[For us]it’s about balancing the short term against the long term and how that fits with what we want to do this year and beyond.”

Given their organizational depth, the Dodgers could opt for a different strategy. The team believes that between Pepiot, Stone, Miller, and some of their other high-level prospects, they have a core of high-profile weaponry to build around.

It is important to keep a path open for each of these perspectives to develop. This could prompt the club to take a more conservative approach this winter: either look for a short-term, low-risk option to fill out the rotation, or explore the trading market for added depth.

It would be similar to what the Dodgers did before last season, when they signed Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney on one-year terms in hopes that both veterans could find success under pitching coach Mark Prior and the rest of the staff.

Both did — and while Heaney remains a free agent, Anderson nearly filled the gap in the team’s rotation again.

Early in free agency, the club expanded a qualifying bid for the first-time All-Star following its breakout campaign. Ahead of his Nov. 15 deadline to accept the offer, Anderson said he also discussed longer contracts with the Dodgers.

Had Anderson and the team been able to work out a reunion, it might have cemented the rotation, giving them five veterans and a variety of younger arms as backup options.

Unfortunately, no deal came about. At the last second, Anderson agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Angels. And two weeks later, the Dodgers are still looking for the final part of their rotation. Dodgers meet with Justin Verlander as they pursue pitching

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