Let’s take a look in at the latest from the game’s western divisions:
- The Dodgers’ front office has “underwhelmed” since taking command after the 2014 season, argues Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. In particular, he says, the team erred this offseason when it failed to meet the pre-offseason “expectations” that it would “re-sign Zack Greinke and lure David Price to L.A. with an astronomical offer, creating a rotation for the ages.” The FOX Sports reporter goes on to argue that letting Greinke go to the division-rival Diamondbacks — who swooped in at the last minute with an astronomical contract offer — sapped Los Angeles not only of half of its outstanding top-of-the-rotation duo but also the “swagger of outspending any team in the industry, on any player, whenever it fancied them.”
- With all due respect to Morosi, it seems rather odd to suggest there was ever any realistic likelihood of one club adding both of those top starters. And, frankly, I don’t think I’m alone in disagreeing with his assessment that it would have been wise to meet or exceed Arizona’s stunning offer to the 32-year-old Greinke, even for a team with L.A.’s deep pockets. After all, getting the best player by dangling the most money is easy enough to do; the real trick is knowing when to pull out of the bidding. Whether or not the D’Backs’ investment will pay off remains to be seen, but it is laden with risk, and no team operates without financial limitations. It bears noting, too, that it’s a bit premature to place final judgment on the roster construction efforts of the Friedman administration — or, for that matter, most other teams around the league — with such a large portion of the offseason business still left to be transacted. The proof will be in the pennants, but in assessing the Dodgers front office’s efforts to date, it’s worth remembering that the organization still has financial flexibility and extremely valuable young players to work with (both now and over the course of the season).
- As always, prospects make for powerful trade currency, and J.J. Cooper of Baseball America rates the youngsters that were dealt over the last couple of months. Teams from the game’s western divisions featured heavily. They combined to enrich the Braves’ system with the three top names on the list (Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair, from the Diamondbacks, and Sean Newcomb, from the Angels). The Padres got two of the next three youngsters in Cooper’s ranking from the Red Sox in Javier Guerra and Manuel Margot. And there were others, too, as the Astros sent Mark Appel to the Phillies and four of the players involved in the three-team Todd Frazier deal either went to (Jose Peraza) or from (Frankie Montas, Trayce Thompson, Micah Johnson) the Dodgers.
- Of course, a good portion of the players just listed featured in the winter’s trade activity for closers, a topic recently taken up by BA’s John Manuel. While Craig Kimbrel and Ken Giles drew returns featuring some of those well-regarded young players, of course, Aroldis Chapman ended up bringing a much less hyped return due to the stunning domestic violence allegations that emerged. (It’s worth remembering, in assessing the Dodgers’ efforts to date, that they were lined up to add the top-shelf reliever before the controversy erupted.) Manuel goes on to discuss the interesting question of the difficulty of rating and valuing premium relief prospects.
- The Athletics are in a nice position to roll the dice on an expensive but potentially undervalued asset this winter, per a recent SB Nation/Athletics Nation blog post, but it’s not clear whether there’s a worthwhile investment on the market. Previously, Oakland hit it big by landing Yoenis Cespedes for just $36MM over four years before the 2012 campaign. I certainly agree that there don’t appear to be any players with quite that profile, but it does seem plausible to think — and this is all my speculation — that the A’s could line up to bail out someone like Denard Span, Ian Desmond, Austin Jackson, or Ian Kennedy, should their markets collapse, or make an upside play for Cuban pitcher Yaisel Sierra.