Spring training is more than a month away. That leaves plenty of time for the most active team in baseball this offseason — the Los Angeles Dodgers — to tinker with their roster before fitting players for a uniform.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman isn’t done tinkering. In a Sunday interview with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Friedman identified his top priority for the roster: a right-handed hitter.
Friedman did not indicate which hitters are on his short list, but the free-agent market yields a few obvious possibilities. Tommy Pham is one. With a career .814 OPS against left-handers (.768 against right-handers), the 35-year-old free agent fits the bill on both counts.
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 7, 2024
As a bonus, Pham held his own last October during the Arizona Diamondbacks’ run to the World Series, continuing a history of postseason performances that dates to his pinch hit home run in the 2015 NLDS, when Pham played for the St. Louis Cardinals.
In nine major league seasons, Pham has a .259 batting average with 130 home runs, 431 RBIs, and a robust .351 on-base percentage. Another is Teoscar Hernández.
Hernandez is four years younger than Pham and understandably seeking a multi-year contract, which could limit his market. The Dodgers have shown little restraint spending this offseason, which perhaps bodes well for their chances of winning a bidding war for Hernandez. The Angels and Boston Red Sox have also been linked to Hernandez this offseason.
Teoscar Hernandez’s career stats:
vs. LHP: .887 OPS, 136 wRC+
vs. RHP: .772 OPS, 110 wRC+
He has 20+ home runs in five straight full seasons. He crushes LHP. He can hold his own against RHP.
Sounds like he’s exactly what Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers are looking for. https://t.co/hbi4L72GY8
— Noah Camras (@noahcamras) January 7, 2024
Hernandez has a .261 career batting average, along with 159 home runs and 473 RBIs, in parts of eight major league seasons. He won Silver Slugger awards in 2020 and 2021 during his time with the Toronto Blue Jays. Another intriguing free agent, Jorge Soler, is coming off the first All-Star selection of his career in 2023 with the Miami Marlins.
The 31-year-old outfielder checks the box of dominating left-handed pitching — .248/.348/.517 in his career against southpaws, .241/.324/.451 against right-handers — and has more postseason success in his career than either Pham or Hernandez.
Soler won rings with the Chicago Cubs in 2016 and the Atlanta Braves in 2021, winning the World Series MVP award en route to the latter. He opted out of the final year of his contract with Miami, foregoing $13 million in salary. Five teams have been publicly linked to Soler this offseason; the Dodgers are not among them.
The trade market is a bit less predictable. Several notable position players have already changed teams since last season ended, including Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Mitch Haniger.
The Dodgers previously acquired outfielder Manuel Margot, a right-handed hitter, from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Tyler Glasnow trade.
Margot has historically hit left-handed pitching better than right-handed pitching, Friedman’s comments Sunday suggest he is looking for an upgrade even bigger than Margot’s career .760 OPS against lefties.