Offseason Outlook: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers will seek pitching in their first offseason under new ownership.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration Eligible Players (estimated salaries)

Contract Options

Free Agents

It's not uncommon for incoming ownership groups to gain control of a team and promise to spend. It is uncommon for owners to deliver on these promises with the speed and boldness that Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson did. Guggenheim Baseball Management has been baseball's most aggressive ownership group since officially purchasing the Dodgers this spring, and it's not particularly close. If the trend of aggressive spending continues in the coming offseason, expect the Dodgers to shift their focus from position players to the starting rotation.

Clayton Kershaw - Dodgers (PW)

At a time that the Yankees won't stop talking about the luxury tax, the Red Sox are shedding payroll and the Cubs are re-tooling, the Dodgers are baseball's biggest spenders. They have committed $194MM to next year's team, tops in MLB. Even if you sliced the Dodgers' 2013 commitments in half, their future payroll commitments would rank in the top five.

Like the majority of teams with such extensive payroll commitments, the Dodgers are set at most positions. The timeline for Carl Crawford's return from Tommy John surgery remains unclear, but he's expected to return early in the season, so significant outfield reinforcements seem unnecessary. Shane Victorino doesn't fit in the Dodgers' outfield, since he'll get offers to start elsewhere.

Though the Dodgers also have plenty of infielders, GM Ned Colletti could pursue upgrades at third base or shortstop. It sounds like the club will stick with Hanley Ramirez at short while using Luis Cruz at third base. Cruz posted a .297/.322/.431 batting line in half a season after signing a minor league deal with the Dodgers last winter, but history and batting average on balls in play suggest he'll regress on offense. Alternatively, light-hitting shortstop Dee Gordon could play the more defensively demanding position and the Dodgers could have Ramirez play third. It doesn't sound as though the team has high expectations for Juan Uribe, who remains unproductive two thirds of the way through a three-year, $21MM contract.

In some ways Alex Rodriguez seems like a possible trade target for the Dodgers. The Yankees don't believe in Rodriguez's ability to produce at the plate right now — if they did then he would be in the New York lineup. Though Rodriguez has many doubters, the 37-year-old was an above-average offensive player in 2012. Plus, it's no secret the Dodgers have been willing to take on high-salaried players. I still don’t think it’d be a wise move for the Dodgers to commit significant resources — say more than $30MM — to acquire Rodriguez, who's owed at least $114MM through 2017. There are too many health and performance-related questions surrounding the former first overall pick to justify an intense pursuit. Based on last summer’s reports the Dodgers don’t seem interested.

Colletti will have interest in adding a top-of-the-rotation starter to pair with Clayton Kershaw. Free agent right-hander Zack Greinke could be a target, and though he'd cost more than $100MM he'd be a worthwhile addition for the Dodgers. They have the resources, the need and, thanks to a midseason trade by their American League counterparts, evidence that Greinke can handle the pressure associated with the Los Angeles market.

However, Walter has hinted that the Dodgers don't intend to spend big on pitching, telling Dylan Hernandez that "pitchers break." Perhaps high-priced starters like Greinke and Jake Peavy are off-limits for now. If the Dodgers look to reduce costs, they could pursue trade candidates such as Josh Johnson and James Shields or free agents such as Dan Haren and Hiroki Kuroda. They have a built-in advantage when it comes to Kuroda, who appeared to enjoy pitching in Los Angeles for the first four years of his MLB career. Joe Blanton, one of Colletti's many late-season additions, figures to sign elsewhere when he hits free agency.

One of Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly figures to be traded, according to Hernandez. The Dodgers won’t have trouble generating interest in their veteran starting pitching with teams like the Twins, Royals, Blue Jays, Angels, Cubs and Brewers seeking rotation help. None of these starters would have particularly high trade value, although Capuano and Harang are both coming off of solid seasons. Chad Billingsley might require reconstructive elbow surgery and doesn’t appear to be a trade candidate.

The Dodgers appear to have some interest in right-hander Shohei Otani, a hard-throwing 18-year-old free agent. Though baseball's collective bargaining agreement will prevent Dodgers ownership from spending as aggressively as they otherwise might, they should still pursue top international prospects.

It's only been eight months since Kershaw signed an extension with the Dodgers, yet it's already time to consider a new deal. An extension would cover the left-hander's one remaining season of arbitration eligibility and a number of free agent seasons. The Dodgers would have to pay top dollar for Kershaw, who's coming off of consecutive Cy Young caliber years. He might cost more than $150MM this time, but it'd still be worth it for a large-market team to lock up one of the game's top pitchers through his prime. Not surprisingly, Kershaw would consider a new deal.

With Kershaw's 2013 salary already determined, the Dodgers have an exceptionally small arbitration class (it looks like Ronald Belisario will fall just short of super two status). Only A.J. Ellis projects as an arb eligible player and he'd probably earn less than $2MM on a one-year deal.

The Dodgers have three club options for 2013 and they can all safely be declined. Juan Rivera no longer looks like a $4MM player; Todd Coffey will miss the beginning of the 2013 season with Tommy John surgery; 36-year-old Matt Treanor struggled at the plate all year, especially down the stretch.

A number of Dodgers relievers are on track to hit free agency this coming offseason, and while prospects such as Chris Reed and Chris Withrow could contribute out of the bullpen by 2013, Colletti might prefer to open the season with more depth. Brandon League has said he’d like to return to Los Angeles, and Randy Choate also seems like a possible fit given his success as a lefty specialist. Though it’s often difficult to endorse multiyear deals for relievers, I don’t think the Dodgers should shy away from their preferred free agent arms. They aim to contend and they need relief help. Spending on relievers won’t prevent them from addressing other needs, so why not?

It’d be hard for the Dodgers to keep adding stars at the rate they were making deals this past summer. In all likelihood they’ve already completed much of their shopping. This winter will probably be about supplementing the pitching staff and answering questions on the left side of the infield. Still, if we’ve learned anything about the Los Angeles ownership group it’s that they aren’t afraid to spend and surprise.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


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58 Comments on "Offseason Outlook: Los Angeles Dodgers"


dieharddodgerfan
2 years 10 months ago

ARod will not be a Dodger.

Only way he would end up a Dodger is if the Yankees gave him away, as in make the Dodgers pay $10 mill of his remaining $114 mill. Or maybe they swap ARod for Uribe with the Yanks paying all of ARod’s salary and the Dodgers paying Uribe’s salary and a little more.

THEN, they might be interested.

I do get the sense though that ARod is likely gone from the Yanks after this year. I feel sorry for any team that picks up even 30% of his contract. Its simply not worth it.

Lunchbox45
2 years 10 months ago

good perspective on the dodgers

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
2 years 10 months ago

Giving him away would still be too expensive, because they’d still have to play him. Even today he isn’t worth much to an NL team, so how useful is he going to be at age 40 and 41? No, I think they plan on moving Ramirez back to third and giving Gordon another shot, with Cruz as the fallback option. Gordon had a terrible sophomore year (including the injury), but he was good in his rookie year and is potentially too valuable to discard. He also has the ability to be a much better defensive shortstop than Ramirez.

dieharddodgerfan
2 years 10 months ago

Well, if the Yankees gave him away, then the Dodgers would be under no pressure to keep him for the life of his contract. They could DFA him knowing that the Yanks’ were footing the bill.

I wouldn’t be against swapping Uribe for ARod and have the Dodgers pay Uribe’s contract and maybe a little more to get ARod and use him for a year or two.

But, again, I dunno if the Yanks are willing to do that. However, based on the treatment Girardi is giving to ARod right now, ARod could end up forcing his way out of NY.

I just don’t see the Dodgers as a good fit. I could see him with the Marlins, though.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
2 years 10 months ago

I get what you are saying, but if the price tag is that low, then I see other teams (in the AL) being better match-ups.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

IMO, Gordon needs another year in AAA. We rushed him and he did well to start, but then he struggled. A year in the minors to work on his defense and pitch recognition would do him wonders. For now, we don’t have to worry about rushing him. Lets see if Cruz really took a step forward last year

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
2 years 10 months ago

Could go either way. I’m not sure about Cruz’s contact situation (I think he signed a minor league contract) but their flexibility with him could impact how the Dodgers decide to use him next season. Defensively the Dodgers line up better with Gordon at short and Ramirez at third, so I suspect that’s Plan A. Fortunately Plan B (Ramirez at short and Cruz at third) doesn’t look too bad. One thing for sure, the fans have fallen hard for Cruz. Management takes notice of this sort of thing so I think they will want to have him on the roster, even if as only a utility infielder.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

Cruz is under team control. He will make 400K in 2013 and 2014, then hit arbitration. I do think the Dodgers know that Gordon isn’t ready and has options left.

jondogg2010
2 years 10 months ago

I can tell you right now if the Dodgers took on A-Rod’s contract, the Yankees would collectively yelp in excitement. That said, as a die-hard Red Sox fan I hope he stays in NY and continues to decline.

dc21892
2 years 10 months ago

The Dodgers took on a risk in Crawford already. I want him to do well there, but he had a tumultuous couple seasons, can he bounce back? Beckett is inconsistent and AGon, well he’ll give you every pennies worth. Taking on a declining superstar who is no better than a league average player lately would be insane. Especially since he is already 37 and has all that money owed still. Had this been 2 or 3 years ago, maybe. I just can’t see any team fully taking on that kind of risk. If NY paid much of his salary then yes, but at that point you’re better off keeping him.

johnsilver
2 years 10 months ago

Beckett was not inconsistent after swapping leagues and at LA, he was pretty decent in fact and fully expect him to continue that way at least thru next season, if not until his contract expires.

LA probably should have lit a fire under Crawford and gotten him to get his arm fixed so that there are no more surprises regarding it come, say?? May, or June of next season and he has to undergo TJ and miss pretty much all the season as a result. Fault both the Red Sox and LAD medical staff for blowing that call.. His arm ATM should have been now almost fully healed and him now doing throwing exercises by now had the surgery been done when Boston 1st found out how serious the injury really was last May.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

Crawford had TJ before the trade, didn’t he? How does the LA staff have anything to do with it?

johnsilver
2 years 10 months ago

Uh-Oh.. You didn’t know either huh?

No.. he has had an “issue” since TB days with “sprains” of the ligament, but last year was the worst.. After he missed the 1st month with his hamstring? It was the TJ “sprain” that kept him out until July.

When he 1st started playing LF after returning? he was under ORDERS to throw to a cutoff guy, who would meat him way out of position.. His arm is not good and it’s not the medical staff’s either, it’s all Crawford..

he is going to need it and why have been hammering away since like May of last year for him to GET IT DONE.. No such thing as a “sprain”, it’s a TEAR, only delaying the inevitable.

Edit:

LA staff could NOW pressure CC to get the surgery.. SOMEBODY needs to get it thru to him how missing time over this is BAD

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

In general a sprain is a partial tear. It must have been thought he could rehab it. And CC did have TJS on August 23, two days before the big trade. The point i was confused on was how the LAD health staff had anything to do with his surgery because he had it before he was traded. Hell, it may have been before the teams even starting talking. After waiver claims, teams have two days to work out a deal. So he probably had it just as the dodgers were awarded the claims, before they could have any effect on the decision

johnsilver
2 years 10 months ago

CC had the surgery then? WOW. HAHA.. Yep! Just looked it up also and have been all over both medical teams for not pushing this since (like mentioned) last May..

Hope he is ready for the season, seem to remember it’s like 6-9months for non pitchers and hope he is ready.

Thanks for pointing that out and.. Must have forgotten or something, cause even dug out an article on WEEI website, a place that go over daily..

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

Just counting days, it was probably something that got buried. As soon as he had it, like I said, the Dodgers put the claim on both Agon and Beckett. As far as him being ready, the dodgers hope he will be but he may miss the first few weeks of the season

Slopeboy
2 years 10 months ago

“…as a die-hard Red Sox fan…”, once again, giving credence to the ole adage…
‘Misery loves company’

jondogg2010
2 years 10 months ago

said the guy whos team only scored runs when an aging dh hit homers over the tee ball league right field fence!

sourbob
2 years 10 months ago

Did I add that up right? $668.25MM in future commitments?

AY YI YI.

2 years 10 months ago

What a disaster just waiting to happen.

Lunchbox45
2 years 10 months ago

they’ll have a 2-3 year window

their offense, if cc comes back and gonzalez, kemp,ramirez and ethier have good years is scary. really scary

jlasovage
2 years 10 months ago

Potential to be scary… healthy and keeping there head on right. Lots if big time players but are any of them going to step up and be a team leader?

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
2 years 10 months ago

Kemp. He carried the team when he wasn’t running into walls and he’s already stepped up into a dugout leadership role.

dc21892
2 years 10 months ago

Hard to be a leader when he’s always pulling up lame then riding the pine with a hamstring injury.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
2 years 10 months ago

Always? This year was the first time, so calling that “always” seems kind of extreme, don’t you think?

jlasovage
2 years 10 months ago

Well if not an injury he still is what 2 yrs removed from having a baf season bc of his relationship with rihanna and he hit what 230 that yr. Not sild completely on him yet. He does need to step up this and make it his team he jyst had alit of vets on the team and egos that could make it tough. Rooting for him. Love tge way he played his near mvp yr. Just want to see it with all the new teammates

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
2 years 10 months ago

Why point to the worst season of his entire career (which was still .249/.310/.450/.760)? I don’t get why you think this is more characteristic of his abilities than everything he’d done before and has done since. Kemp has stepped up in a big way, so I don’t know where your comments are coming from.

jlasovage
2 years 10 months ago

as an example the rest of his numbers are solid, but outside of his near mvp year he has been good not great. Just want him to show the near mvp yr was not the outlier and he is capable of that kinda production regularly. He has never had the surrounding cast like he will have next yr. Next yr be the leader and ill not doubt it, but he needs to step up and lead this experienced team, which wont be easy.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
2 years 10 months ago

I think maybe this leadership thing is somewhat overdone. What does it mean to be a baseball team leader? Put up great numbers? (check) Play aggressively? (check) Be a cheerleader in the dugout? (check) As you say, he will be surrounded by veteran talent next year, so the pressure on him to always be the man should not be so intense. Whether that’s good for Kemp or not is hard to say but I think few ball players thrive when they feel they have to carry the team on their backs all the time.

jlasovage
2 years 10 months ago

No he has done all that prior to agon cc josh hanley. Now di that while having the pressure of being one if not tge highest paid guys on the team. Just do it with the pressure of being a ws favorite. I think he can just want to see it

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

In a season where he played in just 106 games, he hit 303/367/538- a 906 OPS. He hit 23 homeruns. He had the best month of April ever in baseball, hitting 417 with a 1.383 OPS. He 12 bombs in those games alone. Its a pretty good bet that he is one of the best CFs in the game

jlasovage
2 years 10 months ago

Missed the point of my post. Agree he has potential to be great but now he has the pieces aroind him and tge bullseye on him and the dodgers will he thrive or flounder with it. Just saying want to see him step to this challange before i go heaping all this praise of greatness apon him. Great players rise ip in great moments. Ready to see if he will

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

So your point is “Kemp has been an amazing player over the last two years, but I don’t want to believe it, lets see if he keeps doing it”? He had an MVP year two years ago and was well on his way before unlucky injuries hit. There is nothing you can do about a hammy, and the team thought he was ready but it gave out on him again. Not Kemp’s fault, or anyone’s.

dc21892
2 years 10 months ago

Could have sworn he’s landed on the DL multiple times with leg injuries. Don’t really care to look it up though.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
2 years 10 months ago

He was out twice in 2012 with the same injury. This was before he ran into a wall in Colorado and messed up his shoulder. From 2008 to 2011, Kemp never played in less than 155 games. So one injury and suddenly he’s a pine rider, when the actual numbers make him an iron man. Funny how that works.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

And Gonzalez as well. In his exit interview he said he was happy to be here, wanted to help the young guys, and be a rock in the middle of the lineup

2 years 10 months ago

Also keep in mind it’s not like they have no one in the farm system waiting in the wings. They also committed to Yasiel Puig, who looks uber talented if he also needs to mature, too. (And Joc Pederson, but he is at least another year away) That’s just on offense. Their farm has several pitchers still left (even after all the trades) who could help in 2013 and 2014. They don’t *have* to spend like crazy anymore other than to add to the bench and get one more SP. Which is why I think ARod would make very little sense.

Invaderbro
2 years 10 months ago

Puig, Onelki Garcia, Chris Reed, Joc Pederson, and for some reason i feel corey seager will be pretty good. And theyll probably get that japanese pitcher.

vtadave
2 years 10 months ago

Care to expand on that?

grabarkewitz
2 years 10 months ago

Why? Unlike most of the other teams in the game, the Dodgers can afford mistakes. Little thing called a Regional Sports Network. When it is up and running by 2014, the Dodgers will have their own ATM spitting out millions of dollars that they will not have to share (or share as much) with the rest of the league. Add to that a renewed interest in player development led by one of the best judges of talent in the game, Logan White, and their won’t be any more needs for stiffs like Uribe, Rivera or the Harangs of the world. Unlike the rest of their divison or league, they can absorb mistakes.

dieharddodgerfan
2 years 10 months ago

Agree. The Dodgers will be printing money after their new TV deal in 2014.

Also a lot of money to be made by building an outdoor entertainment/shopping venue like L.A. Live by Staples Center near Dodger Stadium.

The Guggenheim Baseball Group is going to be making so much money in the near future that $250 million dollar payrolls will not concern them.

Actually, the new CBA hurts the Dodgers because I have no doubt they would be spending big through the draft and international market if not for the new restrictions on spending in those areas that came about as a result of the new CBA. Puig was the only big ticket item that they could pull off.

bigd071
2 years 10 months ago

Not only Logan White… apparently Gerry Hunsicker has joined the organization now.

AllisonDWeller
2 years 10 months ago

“thanks to a midseason trade by their American League counterparts,
evidence that Greinke can handle the pressure associated with the Los
Angeles market”

Haha good one!

2 years 10 months ago

If the Dodgers sign an OF FA, it would be someone more like Scott Hairston, who can be a role player once Crawford is healthy. They need another platoon guy to rotate for Ethier and Crawford anyway. Nick Swisher would be perfect (since he can sub at 1st also) except I think he’ll be too expensive even for the new Daddy Warbucks ownership. Odds are Yasiel Puig won’t be ready to contribute at the big league level til maybe September.

One minor point perhaps but I thought it was an odd comment in this piece about how Chad Billingsley might need surgery and thus isn’t tradeable. No, he might need surgery, and thus they need to add another starting pitcher. If Billingsley was healthy, they wouldn’t look to trade him, they’d be thrilled. He’s the main reason they are looking to add another SP. They won’t fully know his status for next year for at least another month if not longer so they’ll hedge their bets and sign someone but probably not break the bank over anyone (imho). Agree they’ll try to trade Harang or Capuano if they do add another pitcher, or if healthy Ted Lilly though I don’t think he’d fetch much.

I do expect them to try to re-sign Brandon League, who after fixing a mechanical flaw was pretty lights out for LA. Maybe Choate too but less likely if Elbert seems healthy next year since they also have Paco Rodriguez to be the other lefty.

2 years 10 months ago

Kershaw-Greinke would be sweet!

Andrew Bogut
2 years 10 months ago

That is what they said about weaver-greinke

bigpat
2 years 10 months ago

I still think it will be tough for them to make the playoffs next year because the Giants are still very good and could get better with another addition to their roster, and the DBacks don’t have many holes and could be in the mix as well. I’m not really understanding why they spent so much on ok talent.

2 years 10 months ago

Keep in mind the Giants will be going into the off season with only one outfielder officially and a pitching staff that is due to regress if it isn’t already. Plus a currently weak farm system. That said, should never count them out for sure, and the NL West in general is getting better (Padres and DBacks have a lot of good young talent.) So I think it will be winnable but not easy.

Invaderbro
2 years 10 months ago

Giants do have a good team, but look at the people have carried their offense, Melky Posey and Scutaro. Melky had and mvp type first half and was in line to win the batting title, hes suspened and Posey picks it up for him with a second half mvp season. And the scutaro trade, Giants fans themselves didnt think he would have such a great second start. So next year No melky (who helped win a lot of games) Chances are Posey wont be as great as he was this year, and scutaro will cool down. of course there is no way of knowing what will happen next year but thats my point of view

2 years 10 months ago

Juan uribe for Arod dodgers pay everything 😀

2 years 10 months ago

haa throw in Manny’s backloaded leftover payments

2 years 10 months ago

ok but take the $5 manny shirts leftover at the team shop

bigd071
2 years 10 months ago

I really thought they were gonna make Han-Ram wear #99 so they could start selling the leftovers. You know there’s 10’s of thousands.

You Know Who
2 years 10 months ago

I can’t wait to see what this team does when all these insane contracts catch up to them in 2-3 years. These trades and this team as a whole is just one big middle finger to the CBA and its luxury tax. Makes the stupid contracts amaro gives out over with my phillies easier to swallow lol.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

With the wildcard being Crawford, who is overpaid? Beckett and Andre are at or close to market value. The FA market is expensive…

Invaderbro
2 years 10 months ago

Only big contracts are Kemp Ethier Gonzalez and Crawford. Becket and Ramirez are signed only through 2014 so theyll be gone. I wont lie Ehtier was overpaid and i said it since the beginning, Crawford was a risk but he has a replacement waiting for him (Puig) so if anything seems off hes replaceable. Gonzalez’s contract is below market value compared to other big name 1st baseman. And Kemp needs no argument. ONCE AGAIN MONEY IS NOT AN ISSUE FOR THE DODGERS !!! THEYLL PASS THE LUXURY TAX IF THEY THINK ITS BEST FOR THE TEAM, AND THIS WAS ONLY DONE WHILE THE FRONT OFFICE REBUILDS THE MINOR LEAGUE SYSTEM !!!

RallyMonkeyUSA
2 years 10 months ago

Dodgers need to go after Haren and Shields. Leave the lineup the same… They can win with these guys. Use Hanley at SS, Cruz at 3rd, platoon Ellis and Dee at 2nd. Dee can’t throw from 3rd or SS. 2nd base seems like it would suit him much better defensively.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
2 years 10 months ago

We always went cheap on the pen and have had one of the best pens. Since 06, we’ve had just two years of not being in the top 10 in bullpen ERA, and two years in the top 3. Our two bad years were 2010 and 2011, when McCourt gave no money to this team as well. Our pen is not a problem