If the Dodgers wanted to go on a spending spree, what's out there?

Koji Watanabe

The premise of this article: Teams usually have about 15 roster spots to spend significant money on, and the Dodgers are running out of open spots.

The flaw of the premise: The Dodgers don't care. That's why they accepted Carl Crawford's and Josh Beckett's contracts as an Adrian Gonzalez tax, and why they had eight viable rotation candidates in March.

But I'll argue the extra starting pitchers were from the pre-Guggenheim days, and that the Crawford situation was a fluky, rare occurrence that isn't likely to have an analogue over the next decade. Generally speaking, even the new Dodgers probably won't be in the business of spending tens (or hundreds) of millions on a position that's already filled by a player making tens (or hundreds) of millions.

I like to pretend the Dodgers are run by one person, and that he's part billionaire oligarch used to getting his way, and part Bond villain. And that when the Dodgers lost in the NLCS, he buzzed into an intercom and told his assistant to buy more players. That's pretty far from the truth, but the truth is boring. No, pretend the team is owned by the hot-headed Richard Dodger IV, and everything becomes more amusing and comprehensible at the same time.

So if this scenario were in play, if the Dodgers wanted to completely blow up the free-agent market in their quest for a title, what could they do this year?

The Dodgers just signed Alexander Guerrero for four years and $28 million, so second base is most likely taken care of. I wouldn't put it past Richard Dodger IV to get hammered on mint juleps one night and wake up with Robinson Cano in the trunk of his car, but I'll guess that Guerrero is the answer for 2013.

Adrian Gonzalez is at first, Hanley Ramirez is at short, and the outfield is overstuffed. The rotation has three good and pricey players who aren't going anywhere.

We're down to two rotation spots, third base, and catcher, and that's assuming that A.J. Ellis is anything less than safe. Let's take a look at the big-ticket items the Dodgers can buy for their hole at third base. From MLB Trade Rumors:

Third base
Yuniesky Betancourt (32)
Wilson Betemit (32) - $3.2MM vesting option
Jamey Carroll (40)
Eric Chavez (36)
Mark DeRosa (39) - $750K club option with a $25K buyout
Jerry Hairston Jr. (38)
Brandon Inge (37)
Brent Lillibridge (30)
Casey McGehee (31)
Placido Polanco (38)
Mark Reynolds (30)
Juan Uribe (34)
Kevin Youkilis (35)
Michael Young (37)

Uh …

/looks at list again

Oh, maybe if you …

/looks at list again

No, no, that probably wouldn't be good. But if that guy could … no, no … ah, forget it.

The best option for the Dodgers is probably the status quo: Juan Uribe. You're instantly surprised at that, but then look up at the list again. It isn't really debatable, unless you're a Michael Young True Believer.

If the Dodgers want to make a splash at catcher, Brian McCann is the biggest name, followed by Carlos Ruiz and A.J. Pierzynski. It's possible the Dodgers will be smitten with McCann's power, but those players aren't automatically preferable to Ellis. If you use WAR (which is admittedly lacking for catchers), they're all pretty comparable. They certainly aren't the kind of obvious improvements that would make it worth the Dodgers' while to push Ellis out.

Nope, it's the pitching. There are two pitching slots, and the Dodgers can spend, spend, spend on them if they want. Technically, Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett still exist, but they're just playing the part of Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly next year. So here's my almost-certainly-wrong-but-here-goes prediction as to what Richard Dodger IV will do in his mad rage of spending:

Masahiro Tanaka (five years, $70 million, along with $70 million posting fee)
Matt Garza (five years, $89 million)

That's basically the Anibal for Garza, with a million on top.

You can switch in Bronson Arroyo or A.J. Burnett for one or both, but you get the idea. If the Dodgers wanted to go nutso as a response to the NLCS ending, there really isn't an ideal way to do it. And if they do the Tanaka/Garza duo up there, it would give them one less slot to play with before the 2015 offseason.

The good news for the Dodgers is that they have a complete team as is, and they don't really need to go goofy as a response to one best-of-seven series.

But if they wanted to, that's what it would look like. It's not that heart-stopping.

Of course, there are always trades. And if they need a third baseman, I can think of a 14-time All Star and three-time MVP who might be on the market. His team might even eat a small portion of his contract! He plays for the Yankees, and ... wait, maybe I should just save this for its own column.

Other than that, it looks like Richard Dodger IV is going to have to be satisfied with just one or two big free agents.

For more on the Dodgers, please visit True Blue LA

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