Dodgers president/CEO Stan Kasten recently took part in a Q&A with ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon to discuss a wide range of topics about the team. Here are some of the highlights concerning the Dodgers’ offseason thus far…
- The Dodgers felt comfortable in making a financial “stretch” to re-sign Zack Greinke since they knew the pitcher so well, though offering a sixth year as the Diamondbacks did to ultimately land the star righty went above even the Dodgers’ expanded comfort zone. “All things factored in, we could not get to a point we felt hamstrung down the road. Having said that, we went beyond what we felt was strictly prudent because it was Zack, who we valued so highly,” Kasten said. Los Angeles’ offer to Greinke was reportedly in the area of five years and $155MM. Kasten didn’t confirm the total, though he used his team’s pursuit of Greinke as an example of how the Dodgers are still very willing to spend, and that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is under no mandate to cut payroll.
- Though the Dodgers have seemingly been linked to virtually every big-name pitcher on the open market this offseason, Kasten said that Greinke was the only serious target and other talks were mostly a case of due diligence. “Once [re-signing Greinke] didn’t occur, I know our name was thrown out there on everybody,” Kasten said. “Part of that is because we do touch base with everyone and once that happens, agents can characterize that touching base however it suits their purposes. We haven’t wanted any of the other big-ticket items for various reasons, from physical reasons to age to the way it was going to fit together for us.”
- Some fans and pundits have been critical of how relatively quiet the Dodgers’ offseason has been, as the club has fallen short on attempts to acquire the likes of Greinke, Hisashi Iwakuma and Aroldis Chapman. While Kasten admits the team hasn’t connected on some big moves, he notes that the roster will still contend and will be “maybe better than last year by the time Opening Day gets here.”
- Kasten also points to the bigger picture steps Los Angeles has taken to improving from within, noting its gains in international signings and minor league depth. “Even more important, we’re much closer today than we were three years ago to being the long-term, self-sustaining organization, and that doesn’t get enough attention….We all know the next wave of players is very close to getting to the majors this coming year. Behind them, we think two to three years from now we have a very, very deep roster of other prospects highlighted by the investments we’ve made internationally. There are two movements on the way and that’s what we said we were trying to do from the day we arrived,” Kasten said.
- While the team is always looking to make improvements, Kasten feels the current rotation is already solid and will be further augmented by that aforementioned depth. “The system is just starting to catch up in terms of depth,” the president said. “I can tell you right now we have more depth than the organization has ever had….I don’t think the team we field today is the team we will open the postseason with next October.”
- As an executive, Kasten has “no hard and fast rules other than not having any hard and fast rules.” He denies having such policies as signing players beyond age 36 or signing pitchers to contracts longer than five years; while the latter may be “a really good rule if it were one,” Kasten also notes that the club also has Clayton Kershaw signed to a seven-year, $215MM deal.
- There were rumors earlier this winter that the front office was set on hiring director of player development Gabe Kapler as the new Dodgers manager before ownership insisted on a wider-ranging search that eventually led to the hiring of Dave Roberts. Kasten denied the rumor, calling it “really bizarre” and stating that ownership didn’t get involved in the process at all until Roberts and Kapler were the final two candidates. “There were no other jobs open and we had all the time in the world to interview every possible candidate, which is what we did. It came down to the last two guys and our owners met those guys and we all collectively made the same decision,” Kasten said.