Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spoke with Casey Stern and Mike Ferrin of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link) today, and here are some of the hot stove-related highlights….
- In re-signing Kenley Jansen, Rich Hill, Justin Turner and other key pieces, retaining the core was obviously a big priority for the Dodgers this winter. “The growth from February 2016 to October was incredible. The dynamic among the group was great, it was something we felt like was really good, in terms of the environment that’s conducive to winning….We were fortunate with the support from ownership to retain this group and kind of supplement around it,” Friedman said.
- With Jansen, specifically, Friedman said that if the team hadn’t re-signed their longtime closer, they wouldn’t have extended a similarly large contract offer to other top closers on the market, such as Aroldis Chapman. The Dodgers’ familiarity with Jansen’s makeup, work ethic and obviously his ability gave the team “that much more conviction to” make their five-year, $80MM deal with the stopper. “There’s so much volatility among relief pitching in general, there are very few that are kind of bellwethers. Kenley, for us, is a guy that’s a bellwether,” Friedman said.
- Sergio Romo is already fitting right into the L.A. clubhouse, and his postseason track record was also part of the reason why the World Series-hopeful Dodgers added the veteran reliever. “He has experience getting big outs in October games, which is not nothing,” Friedman said. “There are some guys who just can’t handle that pressure, he has demonstrated that he can.”
- “Everyone was lobbying each other” to re-sign Chase Utley, Friedman joked, as “even the groundskeeper was lobbying us to bring Chase back.” Utley’s addition during the 2015 season was a major reason why the Dodgers developed such a good winning attitude last year, Friedman feels, as “I’ve never been around a guy who is more focused on winning.” Utley re-signed with the Dodgers on a one-year, $2MM deal this offseason and will get only limited at-bats since Los Angeles is set around the infield, though clearly Friedman feels Utley’s influence to the Dodgers’ success extends well beyond the field.