Dodgers Rumors: Industry Expert Links LA to Top Upcoming Free Agent

At least one anonymous executive thinks the Dodgers will pursue top free agent Aaron Judge this coming offseason.

The most predictable thing about the free-agent market every offseason is that no one is ever any good at predicting it. That’s doubly true when the preceding season hasn’t even ended yet.

But Aaron Judge is about to set the American League record for home runs, possibly win the Triple Crown, probably win the MVP, and then hit free agency, so people are naturally excited to talk about where he might end up.

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel polled a dozen baseball executives, asking them where they think Judge will end up signing and getting guesses on the length and size of his contract.

Then range of guesses was wide and wild. The guesses on the length of his contract ranged from seven to ten years. Average annual value predictions went from $26.5 million to $43 million. And on the overall value of the contract, guesses ranged from $259 million to $375 million.

All of that to say: Take these predictions with a grain of salt.

Here’s what McDaniel had to say about where Judge might land, including his thoughts on why the Dodgers might be in play:

And even more interesting, of the nine respondents to project a team Judge will end up with, four said he will stay with the Yankees, two have him going to the Mets, two said the Giants and one said the Giants or Dodgers. …

The Dodgers have the second-highest payroll in baseball (behind only the Mets) but also could have nearly $140 million coming off the books this year, if Trea Turner and Clayton Kershaw leave via free agency and Cody Bellinger is non-tendered.

With Walker Buehler’s Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers’ vaunted pitching depth is now down to a handful of good arms and some prospects, so I’d expect pitching to be a priority — but that’s a lot of potentially available payroll space for a team without a clear payroll ceiling.

As McDaniel acknowledges, Judges age, injury history, and positional future could limit his market value. Judge will turn 31 early next season, and he’s been plagued by injury in three of his six seasons in the big leagues. He’s also extremely large and already plays a corner outfield spot, so there’s nowhere for him to go but DH if he doesn’t age gracefully.

Honestly, it’s hard to picture the Dodgers paying a guy with that profile through his age-37 season on the short end of the prognostications, let alone age 40 on the long end.

There will absolutely be a strong market for Judge this offseason. The Yankees won’t want to lose him, the Mets would love to steal him, and the Giants would be thrilled to have him come home and help their fans forget their most disappointing season in a long time.

It just doesn’t seem likely the Dodgers will be heavily involved unless he’s interested in a much shorter deal.

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