Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors

Los Angeles Dodgers trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Minor Moves: Bernadina, Diaz, Balester

Here are today’s minor moves and outright assignments from around the league…

  • Outfielder Roger Bernadina has elected free agency, thereby freeing a 40-man roster spot for the Dodgers, the team announced last night (Twitter link). Bernadina picked up 80 plate appearances between the Reds and Dodgers this season, slashing a combined .167/.304/.258 with a homer and a pair of steals. The longtime Nationals outfielder is a lifetime .236/.307/.354 hitter in 1480 big league plate appearances.
  • The Blue Jays announced that they have re-signed infielder Jonathan Diaz to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training next year (hat tip: Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith on Twitter). The 29-year-old Diaz received 45 PA with Toronto this season, hitting .158/.256/.184. The majority of his work came at shortstop, though he did see 16 innings at second base and play at least one inning at all three outfield spots.
  • Right-hander Collin Balester, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, has re-signed with the Pirates on a minor league deal, Chris Iott of MLive.com reports (via Twitter). The 28-year-old hasn’t pitched in the Majors since posting a 6.50 ERA in 18 innings with the Tigers back in 2012, but he spent part of the four prior seasons in the Nationals’ bullpen. Balester has a 5.30 ERA in 185 innings between the Nats and Tigers.

Reactions To & Fallout From Friedman Joining Dodgers

Earlier today, the Dodgers and Rays announced the stunning news that Rays GM Andrew Friedman would leave his post to become the new president of baseball operations for the Dodgers. The move shook the baseball world and, obviously, comes with some significant ramifications not only for the teams involved but for the entire game.

MLBTR’s Zach Links participated in the conference call after the announcement, and reported on the thoughts and observations of owner Stuart Sternberg and new GM Matthew Silverman. Hare are some more reactions and fallout from the news of the day …

  • For the Dodgers, the move to add Friedman is a part of a broader shift towards modernizing baseball operations, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports. If the launch of big spending and major moves was phase one of the new ownership group’s plans, then Friedman will be entrusted to engineer phase two: a bid to make the Dodgers the powerhouse franchise and brand of the 21st century, driven by a traditional scout-and-develop approach that is informed and supplemented by analytics and a robust war chest.
  • Baseball America’s John Manuel opines that Friedman got out of the Rays organization at the right time (Twitter link). The Rays have had some rough drafts in recent years, resulting in a thin farm system, while the Dodgers’ minor league system has far more high-end prospects, he writes.
  • ESPN’s Buster Olney suggests that Friedman is likely to hire a GM to work underneath him, much like the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer pairing with the Cubs (Twitter link). Olney speculates that Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen and Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler are candidates.
  • One Dodgers source told Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com that the Dodgers’ failed pursuit of David Price this summer, ironically, heightened their interest in Friedman. Said the source: “They always asked for the right prospects. Not just the guys everybody knows, either.”
  • On the managerial front, the Dodgers are expected to stick with Don Mattingly for next year, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Meanwhile, Joe Maddon said he remains committed to steering the Rays, and even said he expects to talk extension over the coming offseason, as Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports on Twitter.
  • Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus writes (subscription required) that Friedman will bring his “black box” of subtle tricks with him to Los Angeles, and will likely make his impact in many nuanced ways. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs says that the Dodgers seem likely to launch into a tighter spending model more reminiscent of the recent-vintage Red Sox, with Friedman hopefully delivering continued on-field results at a lower price tag.

Outrighted: Stephen Fife, Doug Bernier, Yohan Pino

Here are today’s minor moves and outright assignments from around the league…

  • Righty Stephen Fife was reinstated from the 60-day DL and outrighted to Triple-A by the Dodgers, the club announced on Twitter. Fife, a depth starter for Los Angeles who just turned 28, underwent Tommy John surgery late in the season and will likely miss most or all of 2015. He owns a 3.66 ERA in 91 career big league innings over the last three years, with 6.9 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9.
  • The Twins have outrighted journeyman shortstop Doug Bernier and right-hander Yohan Pino to Triple-A Rochester, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Bernier has already elected free agency, Berardino reports, and Pino is expected to do the same. The 34-year-old Bernier has batted .233/.352/.283 in 73 PA with the Twins over the past two seasons. He was outrighted last year at season’s end as well but returned on a minor league deal and saw another brief callup late in the year. Pino, 30, made his big league debut with Minnesota this season and posted a 5.07 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 11 starts (60 1/3 innings). He was much better in 73 Triple-A innings, registering a 2.47 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.

Dodgers Notes: Pitching, Hanley, Colletti

Here’s the latest from Vin Scully’s team…

  • The Dodgers aren’t likely to sign any starting pitcher that would cost them a draft pick, a source tells ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon.  This would rule out the likes of Max Scherzer, James Shields or any other free agent arm who will have qualifying offer draft compensation attached to their services.  As Saxon notes, the Dodgers’ primary offseason goal is to inject more youth into their roster, as “they’re terrified of becoming” a team loaded with declining veterans, a la the Phillies or Yankees.
  • Speaking of qualifying offers, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times looks at whether or not the Dodgers would extend a QO to Hanley Ramirez.  The qualifying offer (not to mention his injury history and subpar shortstop defense) could hurt Ramirez’s market, which creates the possibility that he could accept the one-year, $15.3MM offer and stay with a Dodger team that may prefer to move on from Ramirez.  “It seems like a no-brainer,” Dilbeck writes, that L.A. would give Ramirez a QO and I agree — despite Ramirez’s issues, he’ll surely find a multiyear deal on the free agent market and thus there is very little threat of him accepting the qualifying offer.  Even if he did accept, that would hardly be a major problem for the Dodgers since (as Dilbeck notes), Ramirez could then serve as a one-year bridge until prospect Corey Seager is ready at short.
  • Also from Dilbeck, he doesn’t think GM Ned Colletti deserves to be fired for the club’s failure to advance beyond the NLDS.  The Dodgers have been generally successful during Colletti’s tenure and blaming him for the many large and problematic contracts on the payroll isn’t fair since upper management signed off on those deals, Dilbeck writes.
  • While the Dodgers would like to keep A.J. Ellis , the team could non-tender the catcher and then re-sign him at a lower price tag, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick opines.  Ellis made $3.55MM in 2014 and he still has two years of arbitration eligibility left as a Super Two player.  Ellis’ arbitration raise will be a modest one, as he hit only .191/.323/.254 in 347 PA last season, though Ellis’ hitting isn’t as valuable to the club as his defense and relationship with the pitching staff.  According to Gurnick, it seems likely that the Dodgers will acquire another catcher this offseason to compete with Ellis for the starting job.

Minor Moves: Reimold, Wilson, Cedeno, Bianchi, Pagnozzi

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

NL West Notes: Friedman, Dodgers, Ishikawa

One of Jeff Bridich’s proudest accomplishments likely didn’t come up when he was bumped from senior directior of player development to GM of the Rockies.  As a junior at Harvard, Bridich hit a two-run homer over Fenway’s Green Monster against UMass.  Even though the Crimson ultimately lost 13-12, it remains a cherished family memory for Bridich, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.  “Hitting a homer at Fenway was cool, but it’s more special because my dad did the same thing when he played for Harvard,” Bridich said. “He hit his to almost the same spot. Of course, my father did it with a wood bat, so that’s a little bit more impressive.”  Here’s more out of the NL West..

  • If the Dodgers move on from General Manager Ned Colletti, their top target appears to be Rays GM Andrew Friedman, according to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times.  A lot of great things happened under Colletti’s watch, including Clayton Kershaw becoming a Cy Young Award winner and Dee Gordon becoming an All-Star, but the new Dodgers owners view him as someone who gave away too much money to older players and built a shoddy bullpen.
  • While toiling away in Triple-A last season, Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa spent just two weeks with his family between February 1 and September 1.  With little hope of getting back to the bigs, he nearly gave up on baseball to spend more time with his family back home, writes Alex Pavlovic of The Mercury News. “I thought about retiring.  I was trying to figure out something else where I could be home and make money…Thank God I stuck with it,” the Giants’ unlikely hero said.
  • Bridich understands the value of catching and Saunders wonders if that could affect his offseason plans.  Russell Martin would be a tremendous get for the Rockies, but he’ll be a very hot commodity after the season he had in Pittsburgh.  While the Rockies have Wilin Rosario and Michael McKenry behind the plate, there are limitations to what they can do.

Quick Hits: Tomas, Fulenchek, Royals, O’s, Pace, Rookies

Though it’s early in the process, the market for Yasmany Tomas is beginning to develop, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. To this point, the Rangers, Phillies, Padres, Giants, Mariners and Dodgers have all shown strong interest in the young slugger. Most of those clubs are logical fits, though the Dodgers are a bit surprising given the logjam of outfielders the team already has under contract. The Dodgers are already unable to find regular at-bats for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Scott Van Slyke, so adding another outfielder to the mix would make a semi-surprising addition.

Some more news items from around the league…

  • Braves right-hander Garrett Fulenchek and his agent, Craig Rose, have joined MSM Sports, MLBTR has learned. The 18-year-old Fulenchek was selected with the 66th overall pick in this year’s draft and will join the same agency that is home to No. 8 overall pick Kyle Freeland and Josh Harrison of the Pirates.
  • The Royals and Orioles have built somewhat unconventional rosters, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, pointing out that their meeting in the ALCS marks the first time in the divisional era (beginning in 1969) that two teams that ranked in the bottom five of the league in walks will meet in an LCS or World Series. Crasnick looks at each team’s emphasis on defense as well as the Orioles’ emphasis on power and aggression and the Royals’ emphasis on speed. Somewhat incredibly, Baltimore ranked first in the Majors in homers and last in steals, while Kansas City ranked last in homers and first in steals. Crasnick spoke with Adam Jones, Buck Showalter and the Elias Sports Bureau’s Steve Hirdt for the piece, the latter of whom opined that clubs have gone from undervaluing walks to overvaluing them.
  • Crasnick’s colleague, Jayson Stark, writes that players feel underrepresented as MLB experiments with new rules to increase the pace of play. No active players were included on the seven-man committee to look into the matter, though MLBPA executive director Tony Clark (a former Major Leaguer himself) is on the committee to serve as a voice for the players, commissioner-elect Rob Manfred explained to Stark via email. Nonetheless, players such as Curtis Granderson, Kevin Slowey and Brad Ziegler all went on the record with Stark, and a number of players who wished to remain anonymous brought up several issues they’ve taken with the endeavor. Some players feel that too much of the blame has been placed on them, when there’s been little talk of shortening commercial breaks or the consequences that an increasingly matchup-based game has brought about (i.e. more pitching changes). More than anything, players hope to have a voice in the matter before changes are implemented, Slowey and Granderson explained.
  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy compiled an “All-Rookie Team” for the 2014 season, highlighting the excellent work of Travis d’Arnaud, Jose Abreu, Mookie Betts, Nick Castellanos, Danny Santana, Billy Hamilton, Kevin Kiermaier, George Springer, Kennys Vargas, Jacob deGrom, Collin McHugh, Marcus Stroman, Masahiro Tanaka, Yordano Ventura and Dellin Betances. Names such as Matt Shoemaker and David Peralta also earned mentions, and you can read Eddy’s rationale behind his selections in the full article.

Ned Colletti’s Job Security In Question

7:44pm: Andy Martino of the New York Daily News spoke to multiple Dodgers insiders, with one source telling him, “I’m already hearing all kinds of rumblings” regarding Colletti and, to a much lesser extent, Mattingly. Other sources to which Martino spoke praised Mattingly’s people skills and ability to manage the superstar egos involved in the Dodgers’ four-headed outfield monster. In particular, a source tells Martino, Mattingly was instrumental in getting Ethier to buy into a reduced role.

7:14pm: Following the Dodgers’ postseason loss at the hands of the Cardinals, sources within the organization tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that GM Ned Colletti could be on the hot seat (Twitter links). Ownership is said to have more of a soft spot for manager Don Mattingly, says Rosenthal. He continues, however, by noting that if the Dodgers do replace Colletti, the new GM may very well want to name his own manager. Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com hears similar things, noting that Mattingly’s job appears to be safe, but the outlook for others in the organization is less certain (Twitter link).

This season marked the second straight disappointing exit from the playoffs for the Dodgers, who were considered a favorite by many going into postseason play due to their elite group of starting pitchers. Colletti famously swung perhaps the most talked-about blockbuster in recent history when he acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto from the Red Sox in exchange for Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, James LoneyJerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus back in August 2012. However, despite solid performances from Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett this season, the Dodgers will again watch the World Series from home.

Additionally, the Crawford acquisition combined with extensions of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to create an expensive logjam of outfielders for the Dodgers. Yasiel Puig‘s emergence as the team’s best hitter has made it impossible for all four to get regular at-bats, and top prospect Joc Pederson has no clear path to everyday at-bats with the Dodgers in the near future, either. Bullpen expenditures Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, Brandon League and Paul Maholm haven’t panned out (though League did recover from a disastrous 2013 with a strong 2014), and trade acquisitions Kevin Correia and Roberto Hernandez yielded sub-par results. Moreover, the team spent a combined $53MM on Cuban infielders Erisbel Arruebarrena and Alex Guerrero, yet neither contributed in 2014 and it’s unclear if both will fit into the long-term picture following the emergence of Dee Gordon.

Of course, there’s plenty to like about some of Colletti’s moves. The decision to re-sign Juan Uribe looks outstanding, and the team’s mere $1MM investment in Justin Turner was perhaps one of the biggest steals of the offseason. That move will continue to pay dividends, as Turner is controllable through the 2016 season. J.P. Howell has produced tremendous results at a reasonable rate over the past two seasons. Also, Arruebarrena and Guerrero had strong performances in the minors, so either could generate trade interest.

If Colletti is replaced, that would incredibly mean that four of the five teams in the National League West would have changed GMs in roughly a five-month span. Padres GM Josh Byrnes was fired in June, while the D’Backs dismissed Kevin Towers in September and the Rockies just announced today that senior director of player development Jeff Bridich would take over as GM, with Bill Geivett and Dan O’Dowd resigning from their posts.

Brian Wilson To Exercise Player Option

Brian Wilson has informed the Dodgers that he will exercise his player option for 2015, which will be worth $9.5MM, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter links).

Brian Wilson

The bearded closer-turned-setup-man appeared in 61 games with the Dodgers this season, totaling 48 1/3 innings of 4.66 ERA ball. In what was his first full season back from his second Tommy John operation, Wilson’s fastball velocity dipped to an average of 92.1 mph, and is command faltered a bit, as he issued 5.4 walks per nine innings pitched. He did, however, maintain his stellar strikeout rate, averaging 10.1 punchouts per nine innings.

Wilson’s tenure with the Dodgers began late in the 2013 season when he inked a $1MM big league deal in August and enjoyed a successful late-season and postseason run with L.A. He allowed one run in 19 2/3 innings between the regular season and postseason, striking out 21 against just six walks. That performance earned him a one-year contract that guaranteed him $10MM in 2014 with a $9MM player option that contained incentives based on appearances.

Were Wilson to again test the open market, he’d have gone up against a strong class of setup men that featured the likes of Luke Gregerson, Andrew Miller and Pat Neshek in addition to a few closers who lost their grip on the ninth inning but pitched well in an eighth-inning role (e.g. Sergio Romo and Jason Grilli). Instead, he’ll return to a contending team’s bullpen with a strong salary relative to his peers. Presumably, Wilson will look to reestablish his command and restore his once-excellent ground-ball rate (his 38.1 percent mark in 2014 was 10 percent lower than his career mark) in hopes of cashing in on a larger multi-year deal next offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh Beckett To Retire

Dodgers righty Josh Beckett said today that he will retire from the game, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. The 34-year-old was slated for surgery on his torn left hip labrum, but will not attempt to work back from the injury.

Beckett was having an excellent season before he was stricken with another significant injury. He owned a 2.88 ERA through 115 2/3 frames, striking out 8.3 and walking 3.0 batters per nine. Though his numbers were propped up somewhat by a .257 BABIP and 85.2% strand rate, Beckett’s stuff was good enough that he managed to record the first and only no-hitter of his career.

It has been a memorable career for Beckett, who won the 2003 World Series MVP with the Marlins at just 23 years of age. By that time, he had already established himself as one of the best young starters in baseball. But by the winter of 2005, he was headed to the Red Sox (along with Mike Lowell) in exchange for a package including future stars Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.

Beckett had an up-and-down tenure in Boston. Over 2006-11, he averaged 185 innings a year with a 4.04 ERA and 8.2 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. But he mixed in three All-Star campaigns, including a 2007 effort (3.27 ERA over 204 2/3) in which he was the Cy Young runner-up.

Beckett ultimately signed two extensions with Boston: a three-year, $30MM deal that included a $12MM vesting option and a four-year, $68MM pact that ran through 2014. Of course, the latter contract did not end as might have been hoped at the time. After playing a central role in the public’s dissection of Boston’s 2011 meltdown, Beckett was off to a rough start in 2012 when his contract became part of the massive Red Sox-Dodgers mid-season trade.

Though he may have delivered more value back to Los Angeles than seemed likely at the time of that swap, Beckett continued to be inconsistent. He threw well down the stretch in 2012 before scuffling through an injury-plagued 2013.

Things ended on a high note, of course, and Beckett will leave the game having contributed 35.3 rWAR and 39.0 fWAR to his clubs. For that production, he earned over $116MM. MLBTR wishes Beckett the best of luck in whatever endeavors he chooses to pursue now that his playing days are over.