While the ongoing MLB lockout has brought a halt to the off-season signings, the rumors are as rampant as ever. Chief Rumor Monger, Jon Heyman, stirred the pot recently by connecting the Dodgers to two high-profile free agents: Carlos Correa and Freddie Freeman.
Correa and Freeman are undeniably two of the most talented free agents remaining. They are also players who baseball fans have very strong opinions of. Either of them signing with the Dodgers would send shockwaves through the league.
Carlos Correa… As A Dodger?
It’s no secret that Dodger fans are holding firm to their animosity towards the Astros following the 2017 Astros cheating scandal. This was made painfully evident when the Astros visited Los Angeles in 2021. Carlos Correa may also be the most hated member of the 2017 Astros for Dodger fans, considering his choice words for Cody Bellinger.
However, Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers President of Baseball Operations, has a job to do. That job begins and ends with winning as many championships for the Dodgers as possible. Making the fans happy is the job of the Public Relations department. If Friedman believes a player will help the team win, fan objections won’t be enough to convince him otherwise.
Off the field issues aside, the Dodgers should not sign Correa
There have been recent reports that Correa has a troubling injury profile and that he refuses to provide information on the issues until after receiving a “significant offer.” With looming pay raises for young stars like Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Cody Bellinger, and Will Smith on the horizon, the last thing the Dodgers should be doing is investing big money in a long term risk.
The biggest reason against the Dodgers signing Correa is simple: he would be a downgrade at short stop. With Corey Seager gone for Texas, Trea Turner is set to takeover the starting short stop role. Over the past four seasons, Turner has been significantly better than Correa. Turner has 17.8 fWAR and a 131 wRC+ over that timespan while Correa has 11.3 fWAR and a 118 wRC+. Signing Correa would mean moving Turner to second base (and almost certainly not extending him), leaving Gavin Lux in positional limbo, yet again. It’s time to let Lux take over the every day second base role. Turner and Lux have the potential to be one of the best double-play combinations in baseball. If the Dodgers want to make a splash with a middle infielder, they should simply extend Trea Turner.
Freddie Freeman; A More Welcome Addition
Most league insiders believe that it’s a foregone conclusion that Freeman will return to Atlanta, where he has played the entirety of his 12 year career. However, if it’s such a simple resolution, why hasn’t it happened yet?
Atlanta has shown a propensity to be unwilling to sign major deals with players. They have never paid a player more than $21 million in a season. Freeman is reportedly asking for $180 million over 6 years, which would mark a steep increase for the Braves’ max spending. The Dodgers do not share these financial concerns. They have flexed their financial muscles over recent years with the Mookie Betts extension and Trevor Bauer signing, and they have money coming off the books in the coming years that can be allocated to Freeman.
If Freeman is available, the Dodgers should sign him
Freeman should absolutely be a target for the Dodgers. Max Muncy’s status for 2022 is uncertain as he recovers from a UCL tear, and Seager’s departure will be felt without a suitable offensive replacement. Freeman would slot perfectly into the top of the Dodgers order and at first base. Once Muncy recovers from his injury, his positional flexibility will allow him to play both second and third base. The impending Universal DH rule also means more available at bats.
If Freeman has no interest in signing with the Braves for a hometown discount, the Dodgers should offer him whatever he’s asking for.
Will We See Correa Or Freeman In Dodger Blue In 2022?
Between the two free agents, I believe Freddie Freeman is the more likely candidate to join the Dodgers. He’s from Southern California, he fills a need the Dodgers have, and the Dodgers can afford him. The fact that he won the World Series with Atlanta last year is also a positive, as there will be no lingering feeling of “unfinished business” in his mind. Freeman is forever an Atlanta legend, and if he wants to chase a payday back home to SoCal, he’s earned that right.
Correa, on the other hand, would be a shocking signing. Most rumors of the Dodgers pursuing Correa are tenuous at best, and the Dodgers already have a world class short stop.