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MLB Team Report - Los Angeles Dodgers - INSIDE PITCH
In the first year under new ownership, the Dodgers were in full, spare-no-expense, blockbuster-move mode.
They made headlines with a mega-millions trade with the Boston Red Sox, lavished another $200 million combined on pitchers Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu during the offseason and took an expensive gamble on an unproven Cuban defector named Yasiel Puig.
All of those moves paid off, leading to a National League West title and berth in the National League Championship Series.
In the second winter under Guggenheim Partners management, things figure to be a lot calmer as the team focuses more on rebuilding a player development system capable of fueling championship contention on an annual basis.
"I like to say we're in between phases," team president and CEO Stan Kasten said. "Phase 2 hasn't fully begun yet. Phase 1 hasn't totally ended. We can't say our farm system is totally where we want it to be. It's very much a work in progress. But there certainly has been progress.
"The goal remains the same as it was a year ago -- to put together the best team we can possibly have next year. To get there in 2012-13, we made some long-term moves. A lot of those pieces are still in place. Hanley (Ramirez) and the Boston guys are still here. Greinke and Ryu are still here. So the big difference is we just don't have the holes and needs we did a year ago. And we feel good about that."
That doesn't mean they don't still have holes and needs. They addressed a couple with the signings of right-handers Brian Wilson and Dan Haren.
After returning from Tommy John surgery and pitching well for the Dodgers over the final two months of last season, Wilson was expected to leave as a free agent for a closer role elsewhere. His return puts a key setup piece back in place in the Dodgers' 2014 bullpen.
And Haren gives the Dodgers a dependable starter behind the front three of Clayton Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu. Rehabbing right-handers Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley will vie for the final rotation spot.
That leaves an infield in flux and the four-man outfield dilemma to address.
The Dodgers wanted Juan Uribe to return at third base but are not willing to commit more than one season to the free agent. And Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero is penciled in as Mark Ellis' replacement at second base though he remains a bit of a mystery.
At the same time, the Dodgers have four every-day outfielders (Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier) and listened to trade offers to alleviate the overcrowding. The result was posturing by the Dodgers, saying they would be "fine" going into the season with all four squeezed into three starting spots each day.
"Well, healthy, happy and productive together?" Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Healthy, I think, is reasonable. And productive is reasonable. Like I told those four guys last year, I know somebody is not going to be happy the days that they don't play. But also within that, we know that we found out if we can give Carl an extra day off here or there, he seems to be even better. We think Matt will probably need the same type of thing, where you're getting a day here and there. Andre, the same, days here and there.
"Is that enough days where somebody is not happy? I'm not sure about that. But it's a good problem to have for me."
MLB Team Report - Los Angeles Dodgers - NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Seth Rosin was selected by the Mets in the Rule 5 draft and immediately traded to the Dodgers for a player to be named. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was a fourth-round pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2010 but spent last year in the Philadelphia Phillies' organization. He was 9-6 with a 4.33 ERA in Double-A last year, primarily as a starter.
--OF Matt Kemp was the subject of trade speculation early in the offseason and GM Ned Colletti confirmed he was listening to offers for the Dodgers outfielders (Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford). But Kemp's agent, Dave Stewart, said at the Winter Meetings he had been assured by Colletti that the team does not plan to trade Kemp. Kemp is coming off surgeries on both his left ankle and left shoulder in October. He is expected to be ready for the Dodgers' season opener in Australia March 22-23. The shoulder surgery was a minor cleanup procedure after major surgery on the same shoulder in 2012.
--SS Hanley Ramirez moved to third base briefly and unhappily for the Miami Marlins before he was traded to the Dodgers in July 2012. A position switch could be on the table again this spring if the Dodgers are unable to fill their hole at third base. Incumbent Juan Uribe is a free agent and has not accepted what is believed to be a one-year offer from the Dodgers with an option for a second year.
--RHP Brian Wilson re-signed with the Dodgers for two years and $19 million. Wilson could have signed elsewhere as a free agent and returned to a closer's role. But he opted to return to the Dodgers as a setup man to Kenley Jansen.
--RHP Dan Haren signed a one-year, $10 million contract that could be worth $26 million over two years if he reaches a vesting option in 2014. Haren shores up the back of the Dodgers' rotation where both Chad Billingsley (Tommy John) and Josh Beckett (thoracic outlet syndrome) will be trying to return from major surgeries.
--UT Jerry Hairston Jr. announced his retirement Dec. 11 following a 16-year major league career, and he apparently will join the Dodgers' new television channel.
"After 16 seasons decided retiring is my best opportunity," Hairston wrote on his Twitter account. "Game will not miss me but I will miss it and teammates immensely!"
Hairston was a versatile player, spending time at every position except pitcher and catcher. Over 1,442 major league games, he hit .257 with 70 home runs, 420 RBIs and 147 stolen bases. For the Dodgers last season, he hit .211 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 204 at-bats.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we can make it work." -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly on the prospect of keeping all four everyday outfielders (Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford) in 2014.
MLB Team Report - Los Angeles Dodgers - ROSTER REPORT
The most expensive restoration project in major league history was a success even though the Dodgers fell short of their ultimate goal and have still not been to the World Series since 1988. The lion's share of the NL West championship roster will be back in 2014 with expectations every bit as high.
The Dodgers' financial muscle and aggressive approach of the new ownership group will put them in the middle of everything this offseason, whether it's Robinson Cano's free agency or David Price trade speculation. They could also look to move an outfielder with four everyday players signed to multiyear deals (Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford).
BIGGEST NEEDS: The Dodgers will try to rebuild a bullpen that lost RHP Ronald Belisario and could lose free agent LHP J.P. Howell. Third base is an area that could be upgraded.
ARRIVALS: INF Alexander Guerrero (free agent from Cuba), RHP Dan Haren (free agent from Nationals), RHP Ronald Belisario (non-tendered, signed with White Sox), RHP Seth Rosin (Rule 5 draft pick from Phillies via Mets)
DEPARTURES: INF Nick Punto (free agent, signed with A's), INF/OF Skip Schumaker (free agent, signed with Cardinals), RHP Ricky Nolasco (free agent, signed with Twins), RHP Edinson Volquez (free agent, signed with Pirates), INF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr. (retired), RHP Ronald Belisario (non-tendered, signed with White Sox)
FREE AGENTS: LHP J.P. Howell, RHP Carlos Marmol, 3B Juan Uribe, INF Michael Young, 2B Mark Ellis, LHP Chris Capuano
The Dodgers didn't pick up the options on Ellis and Capuano. The bench needs to be almost totally reconstructed following the departures of Punto, Schumaker and Hairston, and the bullpen would take a hit if Howell leaves.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: C A.J. Ellis, RHP Ronald Belisario, LHP Scott Elbert, RHP Kenley Jansen, LHP Clayton Kershaw, C Drew Butera, OF Mike Baxter
Butera, Baxter and Elbert signed one-year deals. Belisario was non-tendered and signed as a free agent with the White Sox. That leaves three key players who need to be dealt with -- Kershaw, Ellis and Jansen. The Dodgers already have $197.5 million committed to 17 players under contract for 2014. That total figures to get even higher when those three are signed.
IN LIMBO: INF Alexander Guerrero, OF Andre Ethier, RHP Chad Billingsley, RHP Josh Beckett
The Dodgers would like Cuban INF Alexander Guerrero to step in and replace Ellis as their primary second baseman but are not sure whether Guerrero will be ready for that. Ethier is the most likely of the Dodgers' four front-line outfielders to be traded and his name has come up in hot stove rumors. Beckett and Billingsley are recovering from season-ending surgeries.
--OF Matt Kemp (left shoulder surgery in October 2013, left ankle surgery in October 2013) is expected to be ready for spring training.
--OF Andre Ethier (sore left ankle) played through the ailment in the playoffs. He is expected to be ready for spring training.
--RHP Chad Billingsley (Tommy John surgery in April 2013) began a throwing program before the end of the 2013 season. He could be ready by Opening Day or shortly thereafter.
--LHP Scott Elbert (Tommy John surgery in June 2013) could be ready to pitch sometime in the spring.
--RHP Josh Beckett (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in July 2013) had a rib removed to address nerve issues that were causing numbness and tingling in his pitching hand. Beckett began a throwing program in late August, and he should be ready for spring training.
--SS Hanley Ramirez (hairline fracture of left ribcage) was injured in the first game of the NL Championship Series. He played with the injury, and it is expected to heal with rest during the offseason.