Dodgers must respect Julio Urías and give him a new contract
Don’t confuse his humility with weakness. Don’t confuse his silence with contentment.
Julio Urías is proud.
Listen to him carefully. It is there.
“I always try to show respect to everyone who deserves it,” Urías said in Spanish. “I try to do my thing and hopefully they do their part too, right?”
He spoke about the Dodgers and how this could be his last season with them. He’ll be a free agent next winter.
The Dodgers haven’t always treated the 26-year-old the way teams typically treat pitchers his stature, and now perhaps the only way they can show him the respect he craves is by paying him more than owner Mark Walter and that Front Office Want.
Urías was clearly the Dodgers’ top pitcher last year, but the team waited until five days after the regular-season finals to pick him as a Game 1 starter for their National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres.
The year before, when Urías won 20 games in the regular season, the Dodgers used him as a substitute in two of their four playoff games.
Urías has never complained about how the Dodgers used him, and manager Dave Roberts basically called him the personal ace over the weekend, but enough minor snubs have accumulated over the years to raise questions about how much the franchise values him .
What Urías means to the Dodgers should be obvious, and if they don’t realize what they have in him, that’s just another example of being so smart they’re dumb.
Urías was the NL leader in earned run average last year. His 37 wins over the past two seasons are the most in baseball.
As a Mexican pitcher in Los Angeles, he also provides the Dodgers with an invaluable connection to the community, an extension of Fernando Valenzuela’s legacy, which they paid tribute to by announcing that the No. 34 jersey would be retired.
David Vassegh, who hosts the post-game talk show on the Dodgers’ flagship radio station, co-hosted the team’s FanFest on Saturday. Tasked with maintaining a festive atmosphere at Dodger Stadium, Vassegh did what people often do to liven up crowds: he voiced an opinion he knew was shared by virtually the entire audience.
With Urías next to him on the main stage, Vassegh exclaimed, “We want Julio a Dodger for life, don’t we?”
The rhetorical question elicited the response Vassegh expected, and the ballpark suddenly sounded like Urías had hit a batter with two outs and loaded bases.
Of course, the wishes of the fans alone do not keep him here.
His complicated relationship with the Dodgers likely reduced the possibility of him accepting a hometown discount.
He will certainly have options on the open market, his age makes him particularly attractive. His agent Scott Boras pointed out that Max Scherzer was 30 when he signed a seven-year, $210 million contract with the Washington Nationals in 2015. Year, $245 million post-season deal, also with the Nationals.
Urías, a former teenage prodigy who was promoted to the major leagues at 19, will turn 27 next winter.
“He offers a team the absolute highlights of his career,” said Boras.
Six pitchers have signed deals worth more than $200 million. Each of them had registered more than 1,200 innings between the regular season and the playoffs, and that includes Clayton Kershaw, who signed a $215 million contract after just over five years of service in the major leagues.
Urías has only 658 innings to his name.
The Dodgers have something to do with it, as their cautious approach to him early in his career limited mileage on his arm. Why shouldn’t they be the team that benefits?
Urías maintained his usual soft demeanor on Saturday as he answered questions about his future.
“Right now I’m concentrating on playing,” he said. “My representatives and [the team] will have their time to talk but right now my focus is 100% on the pitch.”
He reiterated how much he enjoys playing in front of a heavily Mexican and Mexican-American crowd at Dodger Stadium, but when asked if he had thought about how this could be his final season in Los Angeles, he replied: “You can’t hide that. Of course, I’ll try to concentrate on baseball as much as possible, and what has to happen will happen later.”
The Dodgers shouldn’t have to think about what that is, regardless of whether they plan to enter the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes next winter. You can afford both players. There’s no other baseball player better suited to a particular team than Urías for the Dodgers.
Urías sounds like he knows what he’s worth, but does the front office? The answer will have significant implications for the Dodgers, both on and off the field.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2023-02-06/julio-urias-dodgers-contract-free-agency Dodgers must respect Julio Urías and give him a new contract