J.P. Howell is one-of-12 2013 Dodgers that are currently free agents.
The first game of Spring Training is 115 days away, and the Dodgers have 12 roster spots to fill in before that point. While they have their superstars locked up for 2014, and some beyond, most of their role players from last year are free agents.
Who will the Dodgers re-sign? Who will they let drift off into free agency? And, will they make a big splash in free agency themselves? Lots of big questions coming up in the winter months, but right now there are not a lot of answers.
The Dodgers no longer have their core of utility guys (Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker, Jerry Hairston, Michael Young), a handful of the bullpen (J.P. Howell, Carlos Marmol, Edinson Volquez, Brian Wilson), two starting infielders (Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe), and two starting pitchers (Chris Capuano and Ricky Nolasco).
The Dodgers had two options available to pick up for the 2014 season, belonging to Ellis and Capuano. They declined both deals, making them free agents, but it is possible they could be brought back on smaller contracts.
The starting rotation is pretty stacked though, so Capuano may have to look elsewhere, and Ellis looks to have been squeezed out of second base with the Dodgers' signing of Alexander Guerrrero.
In terms of the utility guys, you have to see at least one or two of them coming back. Punto and Schumaker seem like good bets. Maybe we could see Ellis come back in the backup context if he does not find a contract to be a starting second baseman somewhere else.
The most intriguing names on that list are Uribe, Nolasco and Wilson. A small paragraph will not cover those situations well enough, so you can expect in depth posts on those players coming soon.
Before they even start making moves, it is important to note that the team already has $178 million commited to contracts for 2014. That would have made them the second-highest paid team in baseball last year, and they still have twelve players to sign!
The free agent pool is pretty strong this year, sporting names like Cano, Ellsbury, Choo and McCann, but the Dodgers are probably not in the market for a superstar player. They just need to fill in the holes, mostly with backup infielders, the bullpen, and another starting pitcher.