It’s been a long time since the Dodgers had a hole at shortstop.
Between six strong seasons from Corey Seager and a productive season from Trea Turner, the club has largely relied on All-Star performances at the position over the past decade.
One of the many reasons the Dodgers have remained annual World Series contenders for the past few seasons is their shortstop play near the top.
This winter, however, the spot is on the move.
Turner is a free agent and about to receive the same massive payday the Dodgers refused to give Seager a year ago.
If Turner goes away, there already isn’t a superstar successor in-house to slip into the potential opening.
And while there are several other big-name alternatives in free agency, the Dodgers are still deciding exactly how to approach the position ahead of next season.
“There are a lot of external options, and we have good options internally,” Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, said during this week’s MLB general manager meetings. “So we can dig through that market and figure out what ultimately makes the most sense.”
The first step will be Turner’s future.
The two-time National League All-Star and hitting champion of 2021 didn’t post his best numbers in 2022 (his .298 batting average and .809 on-base percentage plus slugging were his lowest since 2018), but still ranked among the most prolific hitters in the Majors and especially among the shortstops.
Turner has repeatedly said he’s open to returning to Los Angeles, saying his agents had preseason talks with the Dodgers about a possible extension.
But now that he’s hit the open market, he’s likely to end up elsewhere next season, although general manager Brandon Gomes said on Wednesday the team is “in touch with Trea and looking at that market”.
Meanwhile, Friedman said the team will be “having talks with the other free-agent shortstops” available this winter — a group that includes Dansby Swanson, Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa.
Considered the pick of this class, Correa is a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove defenseman who resigned from his contract with the Minnesota Twins after the season.
The only problem: He was one of the faces of the Houston Astros’ shield-stealing scandal in 2017, a controversy that remains a point of anger for many Dodgers players and fans alike.
The Dodgers have not publicly ruled out the possibility of pursuing Correa this offseason. Gomes said the team will first try to “remain objective” while assessing their level of talent, then go through the complications and potential impact of their involvement in the cheating scandal if Correa emerges as a legitimate target.
“We haven’t spent too much time on it at the moment,” Gomes said, “because we think it probably will later on.”
Correa’s agent Scott Boras downplayed the impact the scandal could have on the Dodgers’ interest in his player.
“Their goal is that they have to win and it’s hard to win,” Boras said during his scrum with reporters on Wednesday. “You don’t let certain things get in the way of professional sport.”
Still, it’s likely that any real pursuit — or eventual signing — of Correa would prove too toxic for the Dodgers to attempt.
And while Bogaerts and Swanson are still waving as other All-Star alternatives, the Dodgers aren’t considered front-runners for either of them.
Adding it all up, it could give Gavin Lux, the club’s former top prospect-turned-daily second baseman this season, the inside track to take over at shortstop in 2023.
Friedman raised the possibility unsolicited when discussing the Dodgers’ shortstop options this week, saying the team “feels good about Lux’s ability to take over at shortstop if the offseason plays out that way.
While Lux struggled at times with defensive inconsistencies early in his career, particularly with his throw, Freeman cited the 24-year-old’s time filling in for an injured Seager in 2021 and second-base performance last year as positive signs . He also noted that shortstop is Lux’s original position.
“He did it and he was good,” Friedman said. “He’s been a shortstop his whole life. That is more natural for him than second base.”
There are other options too. Several other shortstops, such as the Milwaukee Brewers’ Willy Adames or the Chicago White Sox’s Tim Anderson, could emerge as potential trade pieces. The Dodgers also have a Triple-A prospect in Jacob Amaya, who is adept on defense, though Friedman said his offense may need more time to develop in the minors.
Right now, the Dodgers are trying to give themselves as many options as possible to ensure one of their longstanding organizational strengths stays the same next season.
“There are a lot of external options, and we have good options internally,” Friedman said. “So we have to dig through that market and figure out what ultimately makes the most sense.
“It’s no different than a lot of off-seasons where external options are being looked at versus internal ones and how the jigsaw is being put together. There are many different ways to do this.”
Surgery possible for Treinen
After struggling with shoulder problems all season, Blake Treinen could still need surgery this offseason, which would cost him most of the 2023 season.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Gomes said surgery was a possibility for the 34-year-old right-hander, who missed most of the season with a partially ruptured shoulder capsule before suffering another shoulder setback in September.
Treinen, who signed a one-year midseason contract extension with the Dodgers that included a conditional option for 2024, made one appearance against the San Diego Padres during the Dodgers’ NL Division Series.
However, Gomes said the team has been “weighing different options” with the pitcher on how to proceed in the offseason and that surgery remains on the table.
Daniel Hudson is making progress
The Dodgers are hoping assistant Daniel Hudson will be ready for the start of spring training or shortly thereafter, Gomes said, while the veteran right-hander continues to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cut short his 2022 season.
Gomes said Hudson, who was injured in late June but signed a contract extension to stay with the Dodgers next season, started pitching again towards the end of the season and was making good progress.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-11-09/dodgers-shortshop-trea-turner-carlos-correa-gavin-lux Dodgers’ shortstop options: From Trea Turner to Carlos Correa to Gavin Lux