Offseason Outlook: Los Angeles Dodgers

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Dodgers.  Their likely 2009 commitments are below.  Remember, this is not a projection of the actual ’09 roster.  I use only internal candidates here as a way of showing depth and needs.

C – Russell Martin – $500K+
C – Danny Ardoin – $400K
1B – James Loney – $411K
2B – Blake DeWitt – $400K
SS – Chin-Lung Hu – $400K
3B –
IF – Tony Abreu – $400K
IF –
LF – Juan Pierre – $10MM
CF – Matt Kemp – $406K
RF – Andre Ethier – $425K+
OF – Andruw Jones – $15MM
OF – Delwyn Young – $400K

SP – Chad Billingsley – $415K
SP – Hiroki Kuroda – $10MM
SP – Clayton Kershaw – $400K
SP – Jason Schmidt – $12MM
SP – James McDonald – $400K

RP – Takashi Saito – $2MM+
RP – Jonathan Broxton – $454K+
RP – Hong-Chih Kuo – $400K
RP – Cory Wade – $400K
RP – Scott Proctor – $1.115MM+
RP – Ramon Troncoso – $400K
RP – Yhency Brazoban – $540K+

Buyouts: Brad Penny – $2MM, Gary Bennett – $50K

That’s about $59MM committed, plus arbitration raises for Martin, Ethier, Saito, Broxton, Proctor, and Brazoban.  A few of those guys figure to be non-tendered (Berroa for sure), but raises could push the Dodgers close to $70MM.  The Dodgers entered the ’08 season with a $118MM payroll, so theoretically Ned Colletti could have $48MM to spend (more than any team, as far as I can tell).  Makes sense, since the Dodgers have the most free agents.

First issue: Manny Ramirez.  I can’t see the Dodgers (or any team, really) stretching beyond four years, $85MM or so.  Just a few months ago I wouldn’t have thought Manny could get four years.  Will Scott Boras ultimately be reasonable, or will he stick to the "iconic" talk and aim for a contract well beyond $100MM?

As far as clearing the salaries of Pierre or Jones, I don’t see it happening.  Of course, it’s worth exploring what, if any, bad contracts might be offered in return.  Elsewhere on the trade front, dealing Martin seems unlikely.  Any replacement would be a downgrade.

The Dodgers need to address the left side of their infield; it could be considered more crucial than the Manny situation.  Interest is mutual with Rafael Furcal, and he’s the best available option.  A return of Adrian Beltre would be intriguing at third base; otherwise options like Casey Blake and Joe Crede can be considered.

It’s unclear whether Penny will be back, but Derek Lowe is expected to sign elsewhere.  The Dodgers may have two open rotation spots.  The big names are legitimate options – Jake Peavy and C.C. Sabathia.  The Dodgers will have the money for Sabathia, especially if Manny signs elsewhere.  The Dodgers may not get either ace, but they seem likely to sign a veteran starter (Randy Johnson could work).

The back end of the bullpen looks pretty good (Broxton/Kuo/Wade).  Colletti will still probably consider signing Joe Beimel and/or Chan Ho Park, or other veterans of that nature.

Bottom line – it should be a very active offseason for the Dodgers.

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