Los Angeles Dodgers: Ranking their 40-Man Roster

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Examining the team's best and worst players

The Dodgers have quickly become the Evil Empire of the West over the past two seasons, more than doubling their team payroll from 2012 to 2013, which is more than $200 million. But where do they go from here?

Between the end of the World Series and Opening Day every winter, fans are inundated with lists. Rankings of the best shortstop, the best left-handed relievers, the best leadoff men, the best second basemen in runs saved, the best right-handed pinch-hitter in road games in July and more. So, while life can be rather boring without 15 baseball games every night, over the next few weeks I’ll rank players on every 40-man roster.

This is more than merely a ranking though, it is a breakdown of contract status, future prospects and the general direction of each franchise. Generally, the ranking is based on the value of each player to the franchise, with an emphasis on the immediate effect on winning. Enjoy.

The Dodgers have quickly become the Evil Empire of the West over the past two seasons, more than doubling their team payroll from 2012 to 2013, which is more than $200 million. Los Angeles is a tremendous market and the Dodgers’ TV deal provides opportunities to afford every available player. However, the Dodgers must sign ace Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal, and in the process the team is trying to shave a little off the gaudy payroll budget. The club will begin the efforts toward more fiscal responsibility by trading an outfielder, most likely Matt Kemp.

1. Clayton Kershaw, SP
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
Kershaw is arguably the most coveted player in the game right now. Talent, poise, experience, age all are on his side. Keeping him in Dodger blue may be the most important step the club can make over the next 12 months.

2. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 3,500,000
2015: 4,000,000
2016: 7,000,000
2017: 7,000,000
2018: 7,000,000
Ryu outpitched Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in Game 3 of the NLCS, a must-win tilt for the Dodgers. He may be the best No. 3 starter in the majors in 2014.

3. Yasiel Puig, OF
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: 2,000,000
2015: 4,500,000
2016: 5,500,000
2017: 6,500,000
2018: 7,500,000
Puig took the city and league by storm last season and became one of the more exciting players to watch. He’s still developing and quickly turning into a real force both at the plate and in the field, not to mention on the bases, where something always exciting — good or bad — is likely to happen. Once he becomes eligible for arbitration (possibly after 2016), he could opt out of this deal and establish his pay through the arbitration process. If that’s the case, the 2017-18 figures will certainly increase. At any, rate this youngster is a huge part of the Dodgers’ future plans.

4. Hanley Ramirez, SS
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: 16,000,000
As is the theme for this club, when healthy, Ramirez is among the best in the game. But the Dodgers must decide how healthy they believe he can be, and if he can continue to be a reliable shortstop. The team would probably like to trade some of the money owed to Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford for a long-term deal with Ramirez.

5. Zack Greinke, SP
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: 24,000,000
2015: 23,000,000
2016: 24,000,000
2017: 23,000,000
2018: 24,000,000
There are a few incentives — namely Cy Young awards — that could increase his salary over the course of this deal, but that would be money well spent. Typically, long-term deal for pitchers rarely work in favor of the club over the long haul, but if the market for pitchers continues to rise at its current rate, this deal may not look too bad in a few years. With Greinke and Kershaw in the rotation, the Dodgers will always be in the hunt.

6. Matt Kemp, CF
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 21,000,000
2015: 21,000,000
2016: 21,500,000
2017: 21,500,000
2018: 21,500,000
2019: 21,500,000
Kemp is still a special talent, but it’s a bit disconcerting that injuries have begun to take a toll with $128 million left on his contract. With the emergence of Yasiel Puig and the development of Joc Perderson, the club is antsy to trade Kemp and/or Carl Crawford to lessen the financial burden over the next several seasons.

7. Carl Crawford, LF
Opening Day Age:  32
Contract:
2014
: 20,250,000
2015: 20,500,000
2016: 20,750,000
2017: 21,000,000
Crawford looked healthy and energetic during the playoffs, and he performed extremely well. His speed game is all but gone and not likely to return as he gets deeper into his 30s. He’s a talented player and a real asset to the Dodgers’ lineup, but he’s way overpaid.

8. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:
2014
: 21,000,000
2015: 21,000,000
2016: 21,000,000
2017: 21,500,000
2018: 21,500,000
Gonzalez is not raking as he once did for San Diego when he was garnering MVP votes every year, but he is still a formidable weapon in the heart of the Dodgers’ order. It is likely that his production will decline over the next four years while his $21 million dollar salary won’t.

9. Andre Ethier, OF
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:
2014
: 15,500,000
2015: 18,000,000
2016: 18,000,000
2017: 17,500,000
2018: 17,500,000 club option with a $2.5M buyout
Ethier battled injuries this season, but responded well when asked to play center field on a regular basis. His .221/.275/.338 line vs. lefties this season doesn’t read like a player with more than $70 million guaranteed over the next four seasons.

10. Kenley Jansen, CL
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
During the four seasons spent in Los Angeles, Jansen has appeared in 111 save situations and has been credited with a save or a hold 99 times. That’s an 89 percent success rate. He is the closer of the present and the future.

11. Chad Billingsley, SP
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 12,000,000
2015: 14,000,000 club option with a $3M buyout
After undergoing Tommy John surgery last April, Billingsley expects to be ready for spring training, but the club will likely take it a bit slow. Over the second half of 2013, Billingsley will prove whether or not he deserves to be a big part of the Dodgers’ future.

12. Stephen Fife, SP
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Fife came to the Dodgers along with catcher Tim Federowicz from Boston in a three-team deal that involved Seattle as well. Los Angeles was 5-5 in his 10 starts, but scored zero, one, two, three and four runs in those starts.

13. Alexander Guerrero, 2B
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 4,000,000
2015: 4,000,000
2016: 5,000,000
2017: 5,000,000
2018: First possible free agency
The Cuba native will be given the opportunity in spring training to earn the second base job. In fact, it’s his to lose. Having never played an inning in the minor leagues, it’s a bit risky to count on Guerrero out of the gate, but the success fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig had makes the Dodgers believe they have another star in the making.

14. Chris Withrow, P
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The former first-round draft pick debuted this summer and scuffled a bit at first, but since July 10, a span covering 28.2 innings, he was 3-0 with four holds and a save. His ERA was 1.88 and opponents batted just .134. For the season, he struck out 43 and allowed 20 hits and 13 walks.

15. Brandon League, RP
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:
2014
: 7,500,000
2015: 7,500,000
2016: 7,500,000 vesting player option that could reach $9,000,000
He once saved 37 games for a bad Seattle team, and converted his first 11 opportunities with the Dodgers. But he wasn’t included among the 12 pitchers who saw time during the postseason.

16. A.J. Ellis, C
Opening Day Age:  32
Contract:
2014
: 2nd Year Arbitration
2015: 3rd Year Arbitration
2016: 4th Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
This past season, Ellis wasn’t the on-base machine that he proved to be in 2012. But he throws well and handles pitchers nicely. This is not a position where the club is willing to spend freely at this point, so Ellis will split time with Tim Federowicz for the foreseeable future.

17. Matt Magill, SP
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Drafted in the 31st round in 2008, Magill has developed into one of the club’s best pitching prospects. Harnessing the strike zone is the final step in his development.

 

18. Dan Haren, SP
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:
2014
: 10,000,000
2015: 10,000,000 vesting option, 180 innings required
This time last winter, the Washington Nationals believed that 2013 would be a rebound season for Haren. A 10-14 record with a career-worst 4.67 ERA doesn’t exactly qualify as a rebound season. Now the Dodgers are believers. One thing is certain: Haren answers the bell. He’s one of three pitchers with 30 or more starts every year since 2005.

19. Dee Gordon, SS
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: 4th Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Flash is a much more suitable nickname for Dee than his father, Tom. His stock was approaching blue chip status after 2011, but has fallen precipitously since then. His future may be as a utility player rather than a regular.

20. Josh Beckett, SP
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:
2014
: 15,750,000
The former Boston ace is just 2-8 in his 15 starts with the Dodgers over 2012-13. He’s battling thoracic outlet syndrome, and had surgery in July to, hopefully, correct the problem. The best the Dodgers can hope for is that the righthander is healthy and intent on jumpstarting his career in this contract year.

21. Tim Federowicz, C
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Considered more of a throwing catcher than hitter, the Dodgers have been pleased with his work behind the plate. He is a backup catcher that the team feels comfortable playing for significant stretches when necessary.

22. Onelki Garcia, RP
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Last summer in the minors, left-handed batters hit just .156 in 77 at-bats with one home run. It appears he’ll make his living facing left-handed hitters. He had arthroscopic surgery recently, but should be throwing by the end of the year and not hindered in spring training.

23. Yimi Garcia, RP
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Garcia has a deceptive delivery and struck out 85 batters at Double-A Chattanooga in 2013 and allowed just 35 hits and 14 walks. With 19 saves, he is in line to become a closer at the big league level.

24. Jose Dominguez, P
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
It’s possible that the thin righty will be the club’s closer someday.

25. Paco Rodriguez, RP
Opening Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The former second-round pick out of Florida has been a useful piece in the Dodgers’ bullpen, but he wasn’t called on to do much heavy lifting in the playoffs.

26. Javy Guerra, RP
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: 4th Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The former closer had 29 saves for the Dodgers in 2011-12, but fell behind last spring. His future is as part of the bullpen, but not at the back end.

27. Scott Van Slyke, OF
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: 4th Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The son of the former St. Louis and Pittsburgh star, Andy Van Slyke, Scott is a serviceable fourth outfielder with some power, but probably not in the plans to start with such organizational depth.

28. Drew Butera, C
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: 2nd Year Arbitration
2015: 3rd Year Arbitration
2016: 4th Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
The son of a major leaguer is considered a future manager, but few teams carry three catchers.

29. Justin Sellers, SS
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Sellers started 20 games at shortstop in place of Hanley Ramirez last April and batted .206.

30. Nick Buss, OF
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The athletic outfielder drove in 100 runs and had 57 extra-base hits for Albuquerque last season in just 459 at-bats.

31. Scott Elbert, RP
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
One of only three lefthanders on the 40-man roster, Elbert will miss the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

32. Mike Baxter, OF
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: 4th Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
Baxter proved to be a valuable bench player for the Mets in 2011, but struggled last season. He’s a long shot to make the club next spring.

33. Pedro Baez, RP
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
After close to 500 games I the minors as an infielder, Baez converted to a pitcher prior to 2013 and finished last season at Double-A Chattanooga.

34. Jarret Martin, P
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The Dodgers are desperate for some left-handed relief. So, Martin has a chance.


Non-Roster Significant Prospects
Joc Pederson, OF
Opening Day Age:  24

The organization’s top prospect is little more than a year away from making an impact in the big leagues. The Dodgers are trying to make room for him in the crowded outfield.

Corey Seager, 3B
Opening Day Age:  19

The younger brother of Seattle’s Kyle Seager, Corey is likely to be the better player. The Dodgers’ third baseman of the future has decent power and speed with 20-20 potential.

Zach Lee, SP
Opening Day Age:  22

Lee had a 3.22 ERA and 1.171 WHIP in 142.2 innings at Double-A in 2013. He will likely find himself in the bigs in September.

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