Jon Lester won't be following Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Dodgers rotation next season.
On the second day of baseball's winter meetings, Lester agreed to a six-year, $155-million contract with the Chicago Cubs, according to multiple news reports. The Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants were the other finalists to land the three-time All-Star, who went 16-11 with Boston and Oakland in 2014.
The Dodgers were in touch with Lester's representatives, but it's unknown how seriously they pursued the left-hander.
Whatever the case, the Dodgers probably will spend the remainder of baseball's winter meetings in search of a starting pitcher to be part of a rotation that includes Kershaw, Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren. If the Dodgers fail to add an arm, their fifth starter will come from a group of in-house candidates that includes Zach Lee, Chris Reed and Mike Bolsinger.
Without offering specifics, General Manager Farhan Zaidi said the Dodgers are exploring multiple options in the trade and free-agent markets. The most attractive trade possibility might be Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Starting pitching isn't the only shortcoming the Dodgers are looking to address. They are also looking for a shortstop to replace Hanley Ramirez, who signed a four-year, $88-million contract with the Red Sox.
Zaidi said it's “very possible” the Dodgers will have a new shortstop before they depart from the winter meetings Thursday.
“We're continuing to look at options, both free agents and trades,” Zaidi said. “We have a couple of things that have moved along that have progressed reasonably well in the last couple of days. … We have a few things in the hopper. The first thing that makes sense, we'll jump on.”
Zaidi said the Dodgers are mindful of the possible emergence of Corey Seager, considered one of the top prospects in baseball. Seager, who turns 21 in April, is expected to be in major league camp in spring training.
The Dodgers aren't counting on Seager contributing next season, but Zaidi said, “The guys that we're looking at … we're comfortable if they're a good fit this year. I think we're going to value positional versatility too, guys that aren't only shortstops but can move around the infield and accommodate a Seager a year from now or whatever.”
The free-agent market is limited.
Stephen Drew has played 86 or fewer games in three of the last four seasons. Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie are offensive threats, but considered defensive liabilities.
Another option would be Everth Cabrera, who became a free agent this month when he wasn't tendered a contract by the San Diego Padres. Cabrera has a troublesome history. He served a 50-game suspension in 2013 for using performance-enhancing drugs and was arrested this year for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana.
As for potential trade options, Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox doesn't appear to be among them. The Dodgers' interest in Ramirez is said to be lukewarm and conversations with the White Sox about a deal involving Matt Kemp didn't advance.
Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies could be a target, as the 36-year-old former National League most valuable player is entering the final year of his contract. However, Rollins can veto any trade and the Dodgers might not match up with the Phillies in a trade.
Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers could be involved in a trade for one of the Dodgers' high-priced outfielders. Andrus is guaranteed $120 million over the next eight seasons.