The Immediate Effects of Juan Uribe’s Return

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We learned last night that the Dodgers and Juan Uribe had agreed to a reunion for the next two years, for a reported $15 million. Between his atrocious 2011-12 and his rebound 2013, it’s almost impossible to guess what he’s going to be in his age-34 and -35 seasons. Interestingly enough, as has been discussed here and elsewhere, Uribe wasn’t a markedly different player as far as tendencies or plate discipline. He was simply a player in far better shape, better able to field his position and get some power behind the ball.

Now, whether he maintains that over the next two years remains to be seen. The good news is that he’s reportedly a great teammate, and that his value isn’t entirely offense-dependent; he was arguably the best defensive third baseman in the NL last year. But as we’ve seen, his bat absolutely can fall apart enough that the glove alone won’t sustain it.

While there’s plenty of time for that, here’s what we do know about the immediate effects of this:

1. The Dodgers don’t need to do something desperate at third base. We’ve been over this a few times, but as risky as Uribe can be, this means that it’s not Michael Young. Or Kevin Youkilis. Or Eric Chavez. Or outbidding Kansas City’s four(!) year deal to Omar Infante. Or getting the aged and injury-prone Aramis Ramirez. Or, as much as we might have liked him in the lineup, paying a huge ransom for one year of Chase Headley.

2. The price is right. We don’t know the exact breakdown yet, but 2/$15m sounds about right. FanGraphs readers predicted 2/$16m; Jon Heyman had 2/$12m; Jim Bowden had $7m annually, though over a single year. Reportedly, the Dodgers wanted just the single year, with an option for a second, and it sounds like they had to bend on that to avoid, well, everything in point number one. Really, when Edinson Volquez is getting $5m for a year, it’s hard to argue about anything less than $20m.

3. This doesn’t block anyone. I had someone ask me on Twitter last night if this meant that Corey Seager‘s ETA has now been pushed to 2016, assuming that Hanley Ramirez does indeed sign an extension at some point. My answer to that is a flat “no,” because when Seager is ready to play — my rough guess is mid-2015 — room will be made for him. That’s because Uribe is a fine placeholder at third, but you can also see him as a decent multi-positional bench option who can play three infield spots (I imagine his shortstop days are done) with some pop.

4. The starting lineup would seem to be more or less set. Yes, the bench still needs some help, and the open question about whether an outfielder is traded will hang over the winter. But this would put an end to questions about Ramirez sliding to third or the possibility of Stephen Drew arriving. That makes the priority for the rest of the winter adding a few relievers and fleshing out that bench.

5. Juan Uribe might be a five-year Dodger. Words I couldn’t have believed even eight months ago, and ones I hardly believe right now.

The Uribear Is Back

Well, sounds like we can stand down on the impending threat of Michael Young, starting third baseman. According to Twitter – I’m at a holiday party, so cut me a break – its for two years, at an unknown dollar figure that will almost certainly make us die when we first hear it, then will slowly seem better over time as we think about the alternatives.

Dodger Third Base Situation Isn’t Getting Brighter

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Juan Uribe still hasn’t made a decision, and now reports have surfaced that the Rays had interest in him as a multi-positional type. I imagine Tampa is out of the mix now that they’ve agreed to bring back James Loney (for three years!), but it still doesn’t ensure that Uribe is coming back to the Dodgers, and the more I hear about the team’s frustration at how drawn-out this is getting, the more I believe it.

Unfortunately, the alternatives haven’t changed, and the rumors that pop up are frustrating at best. Kevin Youkilis? He wants to play on the West Coast, and most of the other West clubs are set at third, but his agent has reportedly not spoken to the Dodgers, at least as of a few days ago. Eric Chavez? Potentially a decent platoon option, though he’s garnering some interest as a bench player from several teams. Daniel Murphy? I don’t love him, and his third base experience is limited, but there’s something to the idea of sending a not-Zach Lee or Ross Stripling pitching prospect if things get desperate.

Things might just be getting to that point, since we’re now seeing things like this appear:

(Buster tweeted that at 3:18am pacific, which is exactly when Michael Young-related discussion should happen.) We heard something similar from Dylan Hernandez a few days ago, but I’m not ready to panic about it… yet. As usual, the rumor-related caveats apply; I’m not suggesting that I don’t believe Olney or Hernandez, just that it could be A) the Dodgers doing due diligence B) Young’s agent attempting to make other teams believe someone actually has interest in his client C) a tactic designed to apply pressure to Uribe to decide or D) all of the above.

Until Uribe actually signs somewhere, I’m not going to lose any sleep over the mind-bending thought of Michael Young, starting third basemen. If Uribe does sign in Chicago or Miami or wherever? Well, then I might be driving around the country trying to track down Reed and Lee and whomever else and trucking them down to San Diego for Chase Headley. (Joking. I think.) For now, it’s just more of an annoyance than anything. The season doesn’t start for another 99 days, and it’s not particularly important on what day the situation is resolved. It’s just important that it’s not Young when the first pitch is thrown in Australia.

The Uribe Of Reckoning Is Near

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If the Dodgers don’t get David Price or Masahiro Tanaka, that’s fine. They still have enough starting pitchers to get by without them..

If they don’t move Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp, also fine. Having four outfielders isn’t the end of the world when two can’t hit lefties and most of them can’t stay healthy, and Joc Pederson hasn’t even seen Triple-A yet.

But if Juan Uribe doesn’t return, then that opens up a pretty big can of worms, because as we’ve discussed, the third base market is just a barren wasteland out there. And as the second day of the Winter Meetings gets going, it’s feeling like a resolution for Uribe is imminent. We know the Dodgers have put out a few offers to him and might be getting impatient on his reply; we’ve heard that both the Marlins and White Sox want him as well.

Since so little happened on Day One, as teams got themselves settled in Orlando and started making the rounds, Day Two is when thing generally get going. (The Tigers already picked up Rajai Davis this morning.) It’s not like Uribe is a top-level free agent — that is, there’s not a huge range of years and salary he can really ask for — which means there’s not likely to be a ton of negotiating left. So while this is just a gut feeling, it sure does seem as though Uribe will be signed and sealed somewhere very soon. If that’s not the Dodgers, then this offseason just took a very interesting turn.

Matt Kemp Still A Dodger, David Price Still Not

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The first day of the Winter Meetings have been relatively quiet so far, other than the truly excellent news that the Dodgers have acquired our pal Jon Weisman for a player to be named later, giving him a limited no-trade clause.

But it’s not likely to stay that way, and the rumors are already flying. Either the Dodgers badly want David Price or they don’t, or Matt Kemp is out the door or he’s not (or not going to be healthy for camp), or the Dodgers are in with four teams on Kemp or Andre Ethier, but that definitely includes or does not include Boston, or the team is getting impatient with Juan Uribe, or they’re “lukewarm” on Masahiro Tanaka, or..

..or, well, you know. Rumors always fly this time of year, they always get people up in arms, and 90% of them lead to nothing. But we still talk about them here, because they’re fun to think about, even if nobody really has any idea what they’re talking about.

So let’s lightning round some important points here…

Price

Yes, the Dodgers are almost certainly interested in Price. No, I don’t put a lot of stock into a Chicago radio host saying that talks are progressing. But I do know this: Dodger fans who are spitballing trade ideas at me have lost their mind if they think the Dodgers are getting price without Corey Seager. I went over the reasons why the idea of a Price trade made me uncomfortable last month, so read that for a full take, but you can’t expect the Rays to give up a better pitcher than James Shields for a lesser prospect than Wil Myers. No, Dee Gordon doesn’t countLikelihood: 12.4%.

Kemp

There’s clearly a big disconnect between the fan take and the analyst take here. Fans — the ones not incoherently calling him “soft” or “lazy,” anyway — seem to think that trading Kemp under any circumstances whatsoever is a bad idea. That’s just not true, really. You make a trade that benefits you. As I’ve said before, there’s likely not a trade out there that’s worth giving up on Kemp. But if one presents itself, then by all means, go ahead and do it. Simply put, since Kemp is still not healthy — he was in a walking boot as of three days ago, and teams may not like his medicals — it’s tough to see anyone giving up enough talent to make this anything other than a salary dump. Likelihood: 3.2%

Uribe

We heard the other day that Colletti had offered Uribe’s camp several deals, and was waiting on the response, so Saxon’s report (linked above) about growing impatience passes the sniff test. Of course, we’ve been over the barren third base market a few times. Chase Headley is expensive and potentially not available. Omar Infante hasn’t played there with regularity since 2008, and is hardly appealing. No one internally is moving there, and after that, you’re left with crazy, uninformed trade speculation. Ryan Zimmerman? Sure, why not? Or Brett Lawrie, or David Wright, or Adrian Beltre, or 10 other names that are in no way realistic. Hell, why not just bring back Carlos Santana? But know this: the slowly lumbering corpse of Aramis Ramirez looms. Likelihood (of Uribe returning): 46.3% and dropping.