On April 30, the Dodgers announced that their all-star shortstop Corey Seager will undergo Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and will be out for the rest of the 2018 season.
Seager’s impact on the Dodgers since his 2015 September call up has been evident. In four years, Seager has contributed 54 home runs and 179 runs batted in, all while maintaining an overall .302 batting average and .372 on base percentage. He is the leading shortstop in wins above replacement with a 13.3 and ranks fifth overall among position players in the whole league. He’s been selected to play in two All Star Games and was the unanimous 2016 NL Rookie of the Year.
The loss of Seager is a huge blow to the National League West favorites The Dodgers and their aspirations of reaching the postseason and winning their division for the sixth year in a row.
On an already slow start to the season, a 12-16 record after the first month, the Dodgers will look at different ways of softening the blow of losing Seager. Manager Dave Roberts has already mentioned that Chris Taylor will take over the everyday role of shortstop.
Roberts stated that he prefers moving Taylor from center field over Enrique Hernandez, who has both outfield and shortstop experience, because of Taylor’s success against right-handed pitching in comparison to Hernandez.
With Logan Forsythe and Justin Turner already on the disabled list, Hernandez will keep his role in second base and the outfield.
General manager Farhan Zaidi expressed his sorrow over losing Seager but feels, “good about the lineup we can field on an everyday basis. We’re not as talented without Corey in there, but we’re going to have to adopt an approach of the whole being greater than the sum of parts. That’s what made us so good last year.”
Zaidi didn’t throw away the possibility of making a trade either. He explains, “We might have had a certain threshold for a trade and might be more motivated now.”
One possible trade could be Orioles’ superstar shortstop Manny Machado. Baltimore is one season away from Machado testing free-agency in 2019. With a current tanking franchise, they would be more than willing to trade their superstar for high-end prospects.
This trade has its pros and cons. Machado would most likely only be a rental.
In the 2018 off-season, the Dodgers front office made moves to put their payroll under the luxury tax. They were potentially making themselves available for the big-name free agency that will include Machado and Bryce Harper in 2019. The moves also make sure Clayton Kershaw doesn’t leave if he chooses to opt out of his contract after the 2018 season.
It would be pretty unrealistic to see Machado agree to an extension with the Dodgers without tasting a bit of the free agency field.
In addition, Baltimore wouldn’t sell cheap. The Dodgers would most likely have to give up their top prospects, such as Walker Buehler, and Machado’s remaining salary could prevent the Dodgers from making other necessary moves this season, such as bullpen arms.
In previous seasons, the Dodgers front office was very adamant about not trading their top prospects. Many teams over the years were willing to trade their superstars for the Dodgers’ top prospects, such as Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger. The front office never agreed and it’s likely they still aren’t willing this season.
In addition, Zaidi wouldn’t be willing to give up the opportunity to trade for bullpen pitchers this season. In just the first month of baseball, the Dodgers bullpen has struggled continuously and has played a big part in the Dodgers’ losing record.
Machado would definitely fill the void of Corey Seager, and his presence would help the team overall. Taylor could move back to center field and a struggling Joc Pederson’s at-bats could be limited.
Even if the Dodger’s deem this trade for Machado unrealistic, there are still other options.
Other options of trade possibilities could come from Tigers’ shortstop Jose Iglesias or the Rays’ shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Iglesias and Hechavarria both have tremendous fielding skills and could help prevent runs from being scored.
Since these shortstops’ bats wouldn’t be exactly replacing Seager’s powerful bat, it would motivate the front office to get better pitching. They wouldn’t feel so pressured to use Buehler so soon, which could help the struggling bullpen and allow for backup in case veteran pitchers continue to go down this season.
Yes, the Dodgers were able to advance to the World Series without Seager in the National League Championship Series versus the Cubs with Charlie Culberson and Hernandez taking over the roll of shortstop.
But in the 2017 season, the Dodgers were 93-42 in games Seager started and 11-16 in games he was benched. His hitting consistency and calming role make a big impact on the overall team.
There are many moves that the Dodgers could make in moving forward without Seager. However, it’s critical the front office starts looking at all their options now.
The Dodgers are not only celebrating their 60th season in Los Angeles but also their 30-year World Series drought, which is felt constantly. Fans are anxious, and being one win away from the World Series isn’t enough.
It’s important the Dodgers don’t roll over and give up on their postseason goals without Seager but instead look at how to move towards those goals without him.