The Dodgers will face the dilemma of whether or not to send top pitching prospects to Albuquerque as Zach Lee (10-10, 3.22 ERA) and Chris Reed (4-11, 3.86) are arguably ready to move up from Chattanooga. While the Dodgers have sent a few highly-touted pitchers to the Isotopes in the past, none of those had huge signing bonuses attached like Lee and Reed. Both could return to the Lookouts instead.
Among the current staff, both Stephen Fife and Matt Magill are on the 40-man but could return. Red Patterson, who must be added to the 40-man to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, also seems like a good bet to be back.
Isotopes pitcher of the year Angel Castro and fellow veteran Matt Palmer are free agents. The Dodgers may try to re-sign them after they both posted good seasons. Lefty Jonathan Sanchez and right-hander Blake Johnson are free agents and will likely head elsewhere.
A dark horse to move up from Chattanooga could be Ross Stripling (6-4, 2.78), who was drafted out of Texas A&M as recently as 2012.
Projected rotation: Magill, Fife, Patterson, TBD free agent, TBD free agent
Lefty Onelki Garcia is the only reliever who seems like a safe bet to be back, though the Dodgers could opt to stretch him out as a starter again next year.
Veterans Javy Guerra and Peter Moylan are both out of options. Guerra was not called up in September and seems like he is done with the Dodgers organization.
Three relievers who passed through Albuquerque briefly before joining the Dodgers — Javy Dominguez, Shawn Tolleson and Chris Withrow — could return if there are no openings in Los Angeles.
Lefty Kelvin de la Cruz and right-handers Sean White, Anthony Ortega and Luis Vasquez are all free agents. Of that group, De la Cruz could be a target for the Dodgers to re-sign after he posted a 2.99 ERA and struck out 78 batters in 62.1 innings.
Among those who could move up from Chattanooga are right-hander Yimi Garcia (4-6, 2.54, 19 saves) and lefty Michael Thomas (1-1, 3.23, 2 saves).
Projected bullpen: O. Garcia, Dominguez, Tolleson, Y. Garcia, Thomas, three TBD free agents
The Isotopes could have more power next year if Van Slyke returns and some slugging free agents are added to the roster. Pitching depth figures to be an issue, though it is every year.
The biggest problem is the lack of clear-cut promotion candidates from Chattanooga, particularly on the hitting side.
Albuquerque's 2013 roster looked like a .500 ballclub at the outset, but the Isotopes finished 76-68. Moving to a new division in 2014 will add another wrinkle.
This offseason will be a fascinating one to watch as the Dodgers make their moves to stay on top in the National League West and how those, in turn, affect Albuquerque as the Isotopes move to the Pacific Southern Division.