Dodgers Free Agent Notes: Xander Bogaerts, Alex Reyes

The Dodgers have joined the growing list of suitors for four-time All-Star and two-time World Series Champion Xander Bogaerts, per Marino Pepén. Pepén adds that the Cubs and Twins have also joined Bogaerts’s market, adding to a list that also houses the Phillies, Red Sox, and Padres.

With the departure of Trea Turner, the Dodgers are among the teams looking to secure a shortstop this winter, having recently been connected to the Brewers’ Willy Adames. MLBTR predicts that Bogaerts will receive a seven-year, $189MM deal this offseason, and two of our writers expect that he lands in Los Angeles.

The 30-year-old hit a strong .307/.377/.456 in 2022, witnessing a noticeable drop in power compared to 2021 (23 HRs, .493 slugging in 2021; 15 HRS, .456 slugging in 2022). Nevertheless, he posted his fifth-straight season with a wRC+ over 125 and kept his strikeout rate below 19% for the eighth season in a row. Additionally, the nine-year vet posted his strongest defensive season of his career by measure of every publicly available metric (4 Defensive Runs Saved, 4.9 Ultimate Zone Rating, 5 Outs Above Average). Bogaerts’ glove had been discussed as his primary flaw, having been rated as a below-average defender and a candidate for an eventual position change. His strong defensive 2022 season will likely aid his ability to remain at the premium shortstop position, positioning him for a contract near $200MM.

From a financial standpoint, Bogaerts, along with Dansby Swanson, represent cheaper alternatives to Carlos Correa and Turner (both projected to sign contracts worth more than $250MM by MLBTR). Nevertheless, with the recent non-tendering of Cody Bellinger and the decision to decline Justin Turner’s 2023 club option, the Dodgers currently have only $152MM committed to their 2023 payroll, per RosterResource (after finishing the 2022 season with more than $260MM on their books). A Dodgers-Bogaerts deal would push the team up to $179MM — leaving ample room for another potential blockbuster signing.

The Dodgers have also been linked to free agent reliever Alex Reyes, per Juan Toribio of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected the two-time All-Star to receive $2.85MM in his penultimate trip through the arbitration process, but the Cardinals opted to non-tender the flamethrower.

Reyes, who was once ranked as one of the best prospects in all of baseball, has dealt with ailments his entire career. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017, tore a tendon in his lat in 2018, and underwent shoulder surgery in 2020. After a healthy 2021 season where Reyes earned All-Star honors while pitching to a 3.24 ERA in 72 1/3 innings with a robust 30.0% strikeout rate, albeit with an extremely high 16.4% walk rate, injuries returned. Reyes would be forced to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery in May, wiping out his entire 2022 season.

Despite Reyes having an unclear timetable to return, the Dodgers have earned a reputation for signing injured relievers to multi-year contracts, with the expectation that the player will perform in the later years of the deal. Additionally, Dodgers’ pitching coach Mark Prior has been highly regarded in recent years for his work, with Los Angeles’ bullpen pitching to the second-lowest ERA (2.87), fourth-highest strikeout percentage (26.7%), and second-lowest walk percentage (7.5%) in the entire league.

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