Offseason In Review: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers spent aggressively on veteran free agents and locked up their top position player in their final offseason under the ownership of Frank McCourt.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Fernando Nieve, Ryan Tucker, Wil Ledezma, John GrabowJosh Bard, Alberto Castillo.

Trades and Claims


Notable Losses

Going from Frank McCourt to Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten represents the biggest upgrade of the offseason for the Dodgers. McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers to a group including the NBA star and the longtime MLB executive for $2.15 billion. The change in leadership promises to turn the Dodgers into a West Coast superpower capable of outdrawing, outspending and outplaying the competition.

Matt Kemp - Dodgers

The team also has some hope in the short-term, even though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti didn't add much star power to the roster this winter. Toward the end of the 2011 season, Colletti said he was hoping to find "the most dramatic way [to] improve the offense" this offseason. The Dodgers appear to have offered Prince Fielder a seven-year deal in the $160MM range and, were it not for the torn ligament in Victor Martinez's knee, Fielder might have signed in Los Angeles. Instead, the Dodgers signed a number of veteran position players to deals that will fill out the lineup without radically improving the offense.

The Matt Kemp extension was Colletti's biggest offseason accomplishment. They're paying him like a superstar, but Kemp (pictured) earned his $160MM after putting up MVP-caliber numbers in 2011. While 2011 was in all likelihood a career-year, it was no fluke. The deal will expire after Kemp's age-34 season, so the Dodgers locked him up for his prime seasons. Not all teams can afford to make $160MM commitments, but the Dodgers can and should retain their elite players.

The Dodgers also extended Clayton Kershaw, but his contact couldn't be much more different from Kemp's in terms of magnitude and purpose. Kershaw's two-year, $19MM contract should provide the Dodgers a discount on the left-hander's 2013 salary, but it doesn't lock him up through any free agent seasons. For me this type of deal favors the player, not the team. The Dodgers will worry about delaying Kershaw's free agency with his next extension, when they discuss a potentially record-setting contract one or two years from now.

Joining Kershaw in the rotation are Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano. The pair cost $22MM in total, which is a lot for back-of-the-rotation pitchers. But there's value in innings eaters and Nathan Eovaldi will still get the chance to start his share of games if an injury emerges. It's surprising the team let dependable right-hander Hiroki Kuroda walk, since he offers more upside than Harang or Capuano and seemed interested in returning to Los Angeles.

Mark Ellis signed a two-year, $11MM that provides the Dodgers with a steady defender at a premium position. The Dodgers are counting on the 34-year-old for his glove and if replicates his career line of .266/.331/.397 it'll be a bonus. This deal doesn't have much upside, but going with Ivan De Jesus Jr. would have been risky. A veteran addition was in order and given the free agent options, the decision to sign Ellis seems defensible.

Juan Rivera, a low-OBP 33-year-old who's losing his power, signed a $4.5MM deal with the Dodgers early on in the offseason. Rivera has been below replacement level in three of the past five seasons, according to Baseball Reference's version of the metric, so Jerry Sands, a powerful 24-year-old earning the league minimum, seemed like the better, cheaper choice.  Even if the Dodgers don't believe in Sands quite yet, more affordable ways of obtaining below average hitters with minimal defensive value exist.

Jonathan Broxton left via free agency and if the Dodgers were at all tempted to spend big on a replacement closer, they resisted, choosing instead to rely on internal candidates and make modest additions to the 'pen. The Dodgers signed Todd Coffey and re-signed Mike MacDougal to deals that should strengthen the bullpen for a relatively low price. Most teams enter the season with more left-handed relief than the Dodgers, who are hoping Scott Elbert can build on a promising 2011 season.

The club also added veteran backstops Matt Treanor and Josh Bard to complement the high-OBP duo of A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz. The additions of Jerry Hairston and Adam Kennedy will also deepen the bench.

The Dodgers didn't add a dynamic offensive player this offseason, but they extended their franchise center fielder and added complementary pieces. Health-permitting, there's no reason Los Angeles shouldn't remain in the hunt for postseason spots this year, though they're by no means favored to win anything. At the very least, the ownership of the franchise will change hands in the near future, ending the Frank McCourt era and ushering in an L.A. icon who aims to turn the Dodgers back into the National League's marquee franchise.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

23 Responses to Offseason In Review: Los Angeles Dodgers Leave a Reply

  1. monkeydung 3 years ago

    putting all of those signings together makes it look even worse.

    still, I think the Dodgers have a fighting chance at the Division this year, and if they are still contending will likely have the go ahead to make a trade or two to help the team out.

  2. chico65 3 years ago

    One down.  Now they just need to get rid of Colletti.

    • BlueSkyLA
      BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

      Colletti did the job he was provided the resources to do. If he’d signed Kuroda, he would not have had the cash to sign another veteran starter. The position would have gone to Eovaldi, who probably isn’t ready, or some risky spring invite reclamation job. If he’d let Rivera walk, he’d have been forced to start Sands, who clearly is not ready now and maybe never. Then the fans really would have had something to gripe about.

      • vtadave 3 years ago

        Eovaldi has pitched great this spring, so for me:

        Eovaldi + one year of Kuroda >>>>>> 2 years each of Capuano and Harang.

        • BlueSkyLA
          BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

          We’ve seen players (especially pitchers) rushed into filling roles before they were ready and after a few promising months they disappear into the minors never to be seen again. That is always the risk. If management had thought that Eovaldi was ready you can be sure that’s the route they’d have taken.

          • Amish_willy 3 years ago

            Which is why you sign a guy like Pinero to a minor league deal to accompany Kuroda/Eovaldi or whomever. 

            Edwin Jackson would have been nice as well. Part of the problem seems to be Colletti’s impatience in waiting the market out (I gues in fear of not being able to sign the Harang/Capuano’s of the world for two-year deals). Both of them were signed by Dec 8th with a lot of starting pitching unsigned at that point.

            Is going into the 2013 season with 13m owed to those two something that couldn’t have been avoided? I fail to see the upside in both of those moves.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            They did a few of those types of signings too. Jackson would have been okay but keep in mind he was gunning for a big payday and only took the short deal very late, when it was clear that nobody was going to pony up. I’m not claiming any upside for the moves as made. I can understand it without have to like it.

  3. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    I thought one part of this analysis was strange, the part about $22m being “a lot for back-of-the-rotation pitchers.” Sure it would have been a lot if it was one pitcher for two seasons, or two pitchers for one season. But it’s four player-seasons, and that works out to $5.5m per. Last I checked, that was about par for veteran journeyman starters, and average is average, not “a lot.”

    • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

      except it is a bad idea to give those players two guaranteed years each, let alone at $5.5M per. that’s why no else (other than the esteemed dayton moore) did it

      erik bedard got $4.5M for one year, and he is miles better than capuano and harang. paul maholm got 4.5 for 1 year. jeff francis took a minor league deal. so did aaron cook. zach duke, bartolo colon, freddy garcia, jon garland, joel pineiro, chris young, the list goes on. all comparable journeyman. all had for less – many for minor league deals

      the capuano and harang signings are two of the offseason’s worst

      • BlueSkyLA
        BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

        Bedard might be a little better, but he isn’t going to give you innings, at least he hasn’t recently. Maholm looks about the same as the pitchers they got and the price is almost the same. The other players you mention, they got minor league deals because they were worth minor league deals. They are only classifiable as journeymen if they can fight their way back into the majors. Look, the point being that $5.5m per season is not “a lot” for players of this type. The arithmetic just doesn’t pencil.

        • LazerTown 3 years ago

          Bedard is a risky move, but a decent one.  If he can ever stay healthy then the team would be getting a top of the rotation guy for cheap.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            That was my point. I wonder how many fans would have liked taking a gamble on Bedard or some other long shot rehab job. I think just as many would be calling that “the worst signing ever” especially if it turns out that Bedard can’t come up with 150 innings and beats up the bullpen.

          • Amish_willy 3 years ago

            I’d personally rather gamble on the guy on a shorter, less expensive deal with greater upside then going the Harang/Capuano route.

            Harang, the same guy that opponents hit .317/.374/.504 off of last year away from his friendly home park. Two years for him is one year too many.

            Based on your rationalization you sound a bit in denial to these ears.

        • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

          “They are only classifiable as journeymen if they can fight their way back into the majors”

          jeff francis has to fight his way back to the majors? he had a better season than harang or capuano in 2011. pineiro threw 145 innings. livan herndandez was given a minor league deal by the astros. he too had a better year in 2011 than capuano or harang

          “$5.5m per season is not “a lot” for players of this type”

          it is, though. bedard and maholm are a tier above harang and capuano. the only comparable contract that fits is bruce chen, and dayton moore isn’t good company

          moreover, even if $5.5M were the going rate for pitchers of their caliber, two guaranteed years at that price is absolutely not standard

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            Actually no, he didn’t, but I was responding to your list of minor league signings. So now you’re not only trying to evade my point but your own!

          • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

            jeff francis was given a minor league deal. so was pineiro. so was hernandez

        • Amish_willy 3 years ago

          Yeah 5.5m for one player, for one season isn’t THAT much, but signing two such pitchers, guys teams like the Padres routinely sign for 1/3-4m doesn’t make Colletti look all that smart.
          If I were signing those kind of starters, that 2nd guaranteed year would be a big turnoff. Would think teams would want to maintain not only financial, but also roster flexibility when talking about the bottom of the rotation. Of course these types of signings are nothing new in L.A. – Ned’s got a quota to meet. Will be sad (Pad fan) if he’s replaced my a more competent GM. 

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            Harang was a rehab job when the Padres signed him last year for $3m. He took a value-building deal one year deal and built some value. I’m no big fan of Harang, but would we really prefer somebody coming off an injury season? Even in theory?
            We should not have to debate why so many of these journeyman players were signed to backloaded two-year contacts this year by the Dodgers. We can understand why this happened without having to like it.

  4. If anything, the Dodgers bought out all the veteran role players and undercut that market…now what will teams do for quality veteran players???

  5. Silas1952 3 years ago

    With the sale of the Dodgers, regardless of what the Dodgers did this off-season, it’s safe to say the Dodgers’ star is rising. I expect a WS championship in the next 2-3 years!

  6. pft2 3 years ago

    Dodgers have made the playoffs 4 times in 8 years.  Last year they were hurt by injuries.

    After spending 2.15 billion to buy the Dodgers, how much is left to spend on players and renovate the stadium?  Look for massive price increases.

  7. Blue387 3 years ago

    The Dodgers made a mistake signing Capuano. There is risk of injury for too much money as well as questions about age and endurance past the fifth inning. He tosses under 90 and had bad career numbers against the Giants at AT&T Park.

    Capuano is career 0-4 with a 5.32 ERA and 1.5 WHIP against the Giants at AT&T Park.

    • I understand what you’re saying but those are small sample sizes. Prior to last year Matt Cain was notorious for getting knocked around by the Dodgers. I don’t usually agree with the “this pitcher is this bad/good against division rivals” because over a large sample size the opposite can be true. 

      I do agree with you that the signing was not something I agree with. Harang I can understand a bit more but Capuano is a fly ball pitcher and is just not very good. I’m sure you would know that first hand as a Met fan. 

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