In all the commotion over Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, you might have forgotten there were any other players available. But pitchers and catchers report in six weeks, and there are still a lot of good free agents out there, and the Dodgers can’t possibly sign all of them. There are enough that you could make a pretty good team out of them. Sports Illustrated has attempted to do just that. Last week, we looked at the pitchers. This week, we try for a starting lineup:
Most teams are largely set at catcher, but Sánchez offers pop and will get a job somewhere after hitting 19 homers in 260 plate appearances for the Padres last year.
Hoskins is an under-the-radar good pickup. He missed 2023 after tearing his left ACL in spring training and might have been a Phillie again next year if Bryce Harper had not taken to first base so well. But Hoskins offers middle-of-the-order power and might be willing to take a short-term deal to reestablish his value.
Merrifield is at best an average hitter, but even at 35 he can play all over the diamond. In a soft market for middle infielders, that skill will probably get him two years.
This is the weakest free-agent shortstop class in recent memory, especially after Tim Anderson’s awful 2023. Rosario’s ’23 wasn’t good, either, but at 29 he’s a year younger than Anderson and his .683 OPS was at least playable. Rosario could be a decent stopgap for a team with a prospect a year or two away.
Through the first month of the season, Chapman seemed on pace to have one of the best walk years of all time, with an 1.152 OPS. But that figure was .659 the rest of the way, and he never seemed to make a breakthrough. He is an elite defender and will play next season at 31 years old, but he may need to bet on himself, take a short-term deal and try again.
Soler is perhaps a better fit as a DH, but he will surely market himself as an outfielder despite his bat-first profile. The bat is very good, especially last year, when he dropped his strikeout rate to 24.3% and increased his walk rate to 11.4%. Neither is a career high on its own, but he had never managed to do both at the same time before. He will turn 32 in February and he should be able to command three or so years.
When Bellinger is right, he’s an MVP candidate. When he isn’t, he’s a nontender candidate. Teams will have to decide which they’re likely to get more of over the length of the long-term deal he’s seeking. There are so few true center fielders available that some team will bet on the former.
Teams are hunting for righty bats, which Duvall offers, but he actually had reverse platoon splits last season. Still, he has some pop and even at 35 can fill in at center field when needed.
Martinez is 36 years old and really can’t play the field in any capacity, and he missed a month with various injuries last year, but he remains one of the best hitters in the game. Among qualified players, only Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Yordan Alvarez and Shohei Ohtani have a better slugging percentage than Martinez since 2017. He also offers a level of coaching and mentorship to younger players that tends to make the lineups he’s in overperform. He will likely have to settle for a one- or two-year deal and he will likely make it worth his team’s while.