This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s Offseason In Review series. The full index of Offseason In Review posts can be found here.
The Dodgers spread their cash rather than making a single splash, opting for roster and lineup flexibility over premium assets (at a premium cost).
Major League Signings
- SP Scott Kazmir: Three years, $48MM (opt-out after first year)
- SP/RP Yaisel Sierra: Six years, $30MM
- SP Kenta Maeda: Eight years, $25MM + $20MM posting fee
- 2B Howie Kendrick: Two years, $20MM
- SP Brett Anderson: One year, $15.8MM (accepted qualifying offer)
- OF Yusniel Diaz: $15.5MM bonus (minor league deal)
- 2B Chase Utley: One year, $7MM
- INF Omar Estevez: $6MM bonus (minor league deal)
- RP Joe Blanton: One year, $4MM
- SP Brandon Beachy: One year, $1.5MM
- RP Louis Coleman: One year, $750K
- Total spend: $193.55MM
Notable Minor League Signings
- Corey Brown, Daniel Corcino, Charlie Culberson, Alex Hassan, Elian Herrera, Brandon Hicks, Chin Hui-Tsao, Jordan Schafer, Donavan Tate, Matt West, Jamey Wright (since retired)
Trades And Claims
- Acquired SP Frankie Montas, INF Micah Johnson, OF Trayce Thompson from White Sox in exchange for INF/OF Jose Peraza, INF Brandon Dixon, OF Scott Schebler (all of whom went to Reds in three-team deal that sent Todd Frazier to White Sox)
- Acquired C Jack Murphy from Blue Jays in exchange for 2B Darwin Barney
- Acquired INF Erick Mejia from Mariners in exchange for SP/RP Joe Wieland
- Acquired RP Tyler Olson from Mariners in exchange for PTBNL/cash
- Acquired INF Rob Segedin and PTBNL/cash from Yankees in exchange for INF Ronald Torreyes, RP Tyler Olson
- Claimed RP Brooks Brown off waivers from Rockies
- Claimed OF Danny Fields off waivers from Brewers (later claimed by White Sox)
- Claimed RP Danny Reynolds off waivers from Angels (later claimed by Astros)
- Claimed RP Lisalverto Bonilla off waivers from Rangers (later non-tendered, re-signed)
- RP J.P. Howell: $6.25MM player option
- Bronson Arroyo, Zack Greinke (exercised opt-out), Chris Heisey, Jim Johnson, Juan Nicasio, Joel Peralta, Jimmy Rollins, Justin Ruggiano
Even while failing to make any single commitment of $50MM, the Dodgers ran up a $193.55MM tab in open-market expenditures (including some bonuses to Cuban amateurs). That bought the club 36 years of control spread over 11 players.
Ironically enough, the division-rival D-Backs got six years of former Dodgers’ sub-ace Zack Greinke for a guarantee that the union values at $193.85MM (after accounting for deferrals). Los Angeles pursued a reunion with Greinke after he made the easy decision to opt out of the final three years of his contract. Indeed, the club seemed all but certain to add him before Arizona swooped in with a dramatic offer that the Dodgers probably could have — but didn’t — meet or exceed. While many have criticized the organization’s decision not to chase the bidding, and there’s certainly some risk in forgoing the chance to retain Greinke, it’s not hard to see why the Dodgers felt uncomfortable making that level of investment in a pitcher who’ll turn 33 in October and whose otherworldly 2015 results (a league-leading 1.66 ERA and 0.844 WHIP) were backed by merely excellent peripherals.
The departure of the excellent-but-aging righty set the tone for the rest of the winter, as it left the organization with yet more rotation needs and plenty of financial flexibility. Brett Anderson had already surprised, somewhat, by taking the club’s qualifying offer. But he was one of several staff members who come with long-term injury questions, and he ultimately joined Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy in the rehab line. Anderson is questionable to return this year after back surgery, Ryu has recovered slower than hoped from his shoulder issues, while McCarthy won’t be expected back from TJ surgery before the middle of the year.
The Dodgers went on to pursue a veteran, mid-rotation arm in free agency. It seemed that Hisashi Iwakuma would fill that role after agreeing to terms, but his three-year deal was blown up after his physical. Los Angeles landed Scott Kazmir in his stead, promising three years and $48MM — just $3MM more than would’ve gone to Iwakuma — in a deal that also includes an opt-out after the first season. One-third of the cash is owed in the event that Kazmir departs. Interestingly, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz values the opt-out at only $5MM, suggesting that’s the approximate amount that the team saved by giving him the opportunity to re-enter the market.
Of course, Kazmir, too, is a pitcher who has a rather checkered medical history, so the Dodgers weren’t done there. They gave a $20MM posting fee to land Japanese stalwart Kenta Maeda, ultimately agreeing to a unique deal after his physical, too, showed some signs of worry. He’ll only be promised $25MM over an eight-year term, but incentives tied to starts and innings could boost its value to over $90MM. Soon to turn 28, Maeda isn’t seen as possessing the same top-of-the-rotation stuff of prior cross-Pacific aces Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka, but he could prove a nice value as a mid-rotation piece.
The Dodgers added yet another long-term, high-upside rotation piece in Frankie Montas, as the club parted with Jose Peraza on its end of the three-team swap that sent Todd Frazier from the Reds to the White Sox. That deal also landed Los Angeles a pair of future options in infielder Micah Johnson and Trayce Thompson, both of whom could impact the roster as soon as this year. Peraza remains an interesting talent, but the same could be said of all three players coming to the Dodgers, who received solid reviews for their side of that move. In addition to making that rare exchange of youngsters, the Dodgers continued to plunk down big money on the international amateur market, dedicating $51.5MM to a trio of Cuban ballplayers.
While president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi focused primarily on the rotation, they also saw work to do in the infield mix. Corey Seager is one of the game’s most exciting players, and figures to hold down shortstop for years to come, while Justin Turner has turned into a highly-productive third baseman and Enrique Hernandez provided a super-utility option. But with Peraza on his way out, the Dodgers brought back August addition Chase Utley on a one-year deal. And with Howie Kendrick languishing on the market after declining his qualifying offer, he was also re-signed. Those two veterans provide a substantial upgrade to the overall infield mix, and free Hernandez to spend more time in the outfield.
The pen lost several oft-used members from the 2015 squad, and looked like it could use some supplementation, even after J.P. Howell exercised his player option at a fairly appealing rate for the club. The Dodgers initially aimed quite high, lining up a deal for Aroldis Chapman that was ultimately scrapped after his domestic violence allegations arose. Instead, the club went after Joe Blanton, who improbably turned himself from an innings-eating rotation piece to a relief ace last year. Brandon Beachy could also provide depth in the pen or the rotation, and Louis Coleman provides another depth piece.
Read more analysis after the break …