Dodgers free agents, Part VI: Who else should the Dodgers bring back?

Editor’s note: This is the Tuesday, Nov. 15 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter from reporter J.P. Hoornstra. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

Parts 1-5 of this series covered all the big-name free agents who began this year on the Dodgers’ roster. The “other guys” might not be big names anymore, but they include baseball’s active career saves leader and the highest-paid player in his league in 2017. This, the last installment of the series, is a lightning-round rundown of everyone else who became a free agent when the Dodgers’ season ended.

David Price had several opportunities this year to say 2022 would be his last season. He acknowledged the allure of retirement but never committed to it publicly, even when one national reporter said he did.

Price’s days of starting games are likely over. His days of earning an eight-figure salary are definitely behind him. Maybe that’s enough to convince him his playing days are behind him, too. When Price was left off the Dodgers’ roster for their NL Division Series against the Padres, it at least ended his time as a Dodger.

Craig Kimbrel saved his final game as a Dodger on Sept. 6. It was a minor miracle he was getting save opportunities that late into the season at all. Like Price, Kimbrel’s Dodger career effectively ended when he was left off the NLDS roster.

In a bullpen that was generally excellent, Kimbrel was a far below average pitcher in terms of the quality of contact he allowed and the number of swings and misses he generated. If he merely avoided walking batters, Kimbrel might have gotten away with that. (He did not.) He was, in short, a shell of the pitcher who recorded most of his 396 career saves. Fans will miss singing along to “Let It Go,” but given the overall arc of Kimbrel’s season, I’m guessing they will have little trouble, erm, letting go.

Speaking of “generally excellent,” Tommy Kahnle and Chris Martin are free agents, too.

Kahnle spent most of the season on the injured list recovering from forearm inflammation. When healthy, his fastball/changeup combination was electric. He struck out more than a batter per inning while limiting opponents to a 0.63 WHIP. (We’re also obligated to note that his subpar performance across three NLDS games left him with the lowest Win Probability Added of any Dodger pitcher in the series.)

Kahnle’s $3.45 million salary this season was a potential heist for the Dodgers. The injury really got in the way, but one can understand what the front office saw in him. I’m just not sure if it’ll be enough to get the Dodgers to offer him another major-league contract for next year, when Kahnle turns 34.

At the time, the Martin-for-Zach-McKinstry swap looked like the kind of sensible bullpen-bolstering trade contending teams make at the deadline. Nothing more, nothing less. From that point on, Martin was one of the three best relievers in the game.

Martin turns 37 next year and doesn’t overpower hitters with stuff, but he used an unusual assortment of pitches and a 6-foot-8 frame to fool opponents with uncanny regularity. The $2.5 million pact he signed with the Cubs in March looks like an eminently fair starting point if the Dodgers want to bring him back.

The Dodgers acquired Joey Gallo at the deadline from the New York Yankees in the midst of his worst season at the plate. Gallo hit a few early home runs, and was a much better defender than the man he replaced as the team’s fourth outfielder, Jake Lamb. But he finished the season with a slash line (.162/.277/.393) that was essentially indistinguishable from the one that got him booed out of New York (.159/.282/.339). I don’t know where Gallo turns to attempt a bounce-back season, but it ought to be with a team that can offer more at-bats than the 2023 Dodgers.

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Hanser Alberto was inspiring stories about his presence in the Dodgers’ dugout and clubhouse as early as April. The .gif factory recently called and asked Alberto to dance some more. At one point this season, Dave Roberts said he could envision Alberto managing a major-league team someday. In other words, if there was an “intangibles” box to be checked, Alberto checked it.

The whole “playing-baseball-well thing” didn’t go as smoothly. Alberto never clubbed lefties to death like he was billed. He slashed .244/.258/.365, with two home runs in 159 plate appearances. He’ll be missed.

Kevin Pillar, Jimmy Nelson and Danny Duffy were also on the Dodgers’ roster this year. Most likely they won’t be next year, because they were (and perhaps still are) old and hurt.

This concludes the “remembering some guys” portion of the free agent rundown.

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