Dodgers face decisions, luxury tax bill in offseason
Los Angeles Dodgers fans watch as the Houston Astros celebrate their win in Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. The Astros won 5-1 to win the series 4-3. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
By Beth Harris, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Dodgers came within a game of winning their first World Series championship in 29 years. After a dud of a Game 7 against the Houston Astros, it's time to start all over.
Well, not entirely over. Not with young stars like Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, and of course ace Clayton Kershaw.
There are decisions to make this winter, however.
Chief among them is the fate of a big batch of possible free agents: pitcher Yu Darvish; second baseman Logan Forsythe; outfielders Andre Ethier, Curtis Granderson and Franklin Gutierrez; pitchers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson; and infielder Chase Utley.
Darvish crashed in Game 7, giving up five runs — four earned — and three hits. The Japanese pitcher didn't record a strikeout and walked one in his second World Series outing of less than two innings.
Still, he wants to stay in LA.
"I would like to come back in the World Series, and I want to pitch better," he said through a translator after the 5-1 loss Wednesday night. "I just want to come back and pitch better. It's tough, but personally I want to come back to the Dodgers."
The Dodgers have an $8.5 million club option with a $1 million buyout for Forsythe. They have a $17.5 million club option with a $2.5 million buyout on Ethier, the longest-tenured Dodger.
Bellinger struck out a Series-record 17 times, but he is the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year. His emergence at first base eclipsed veteran Adrian Gonzalez, who went on the disabled list for the first time in his career to make room on the roster for Bellinger. Gonzalez was sidelined with a bad back late in the season and was left off the playoff roster, making his future in LA uncertain.
The Dodgers have nine arbitration eligible players: pitchers Luis Avilan, Pedro Baez, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, Yimi Garcia and Alex Wood, along with catcher Yasmani Grandal, infielder-outfielder Enrique Hernandez and outfielder Joc Pederson.
The club boasted baseball's highest payroll of $240 million, and it's in line to get a luxury tax bill of about $34 million in December.
Also on the minds of the front office is shortstop Seager, whose right elbow has bothered him for several weeks. It affected his throwing more than hitting, and Seager suggested there were issues he would need to address in the offseason.
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt's contract expired after the World Series, and neither he nor the club has indicated what his future is. Honeycutt is the only pitching coach Kershaw has had in the majors, and his departure would be a significant loss.
Manager Dave Roberts lost his father in March and set aside his grief to guide the Dodgers to a major league-leading 104 wins and a fifth consecutive NL West title.
"You really don't give it as much of your heart and mind because you've got to kind of move forward, and that's what my dad wanted me to do," Roberts said. "I'm sure I'll take some time to go through that."
He is confident the rest of team will return next spring hungrier to claim the title that narrowly eluded them.
"The character of the guys, the talent and the nucleus is still intact," Roberts said. "Obviously every team, there's going to be changes. But again, I like our guys. I believe in our team. And I expect us to be in the same position next year."