In Ned Colletti’s first winter as Dodgers general manager, he made three trades, a perfectly reasonable volume. In Andrew Friedman’s first winter in charge, he dominated the winter meetings by making four trades within 24 hours.
There was the midnight news conference, the predawn trade of Matt Kemp, the suddenly new starters at five of the eight positions aside from pitcher.
If the Dodgers can command as much attention in October as they just did in December, the last week will be remembered as a productive one, not just a busy one.
In the wake of the winter meetings, a few questions:
Was the Kemp trade a salary dump?
Not really. The Dodgers saved $75 million by trading Kemp to the San Diego Padres, nearly all of it redirected toward pitcher Brandon McCarthy ($48 million), second baseman Howie Kendrick ($10 million) and shortstop Jimmy Rollins ($11 million, with the Philadelphia Phillies believed to be covering some of that cost).
Would Dan Haren really walk away from $10 million?
Haren, who lives in Irvine, had threatened to retire if the Dodgers traded him to any team but the Angels. The Miami Marlins traded for him anyway, and the Dodgers sent along $10 million that the Marlins keep even if Haren retires. The Marlins fancy themselves a contender in the National League East and say they hope he will join them. They also could spread that $10 million among two or three players, perhaps a first baseman and cheaper starter. Haren’s career earnings, according to baseball-reference.com: $71 million.
Were the Dodgers stung by Jon Lester’s decision to sign with the Chicago Cubs?
No, but the San Francisco Giants were. The Dodgers apparently did not make a formal offer to Lester, but the Giants desperately wanted him to join Madison Bumgarner in a top of the rotation that would have rivaled the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. If the standard is excellence, Bumgarner is about all the Giants can count on next season. And the departure of Pablo Sandoval to the Boston Red Sox stung too, leaving the Giants with still-unfilled vacancies at third baseman and leadoff hitter.
Is there a duo that can rival Kershaw and Greinke at the top of a rotation?
The Chicago White Sox acquired Jeff Samardzija last week, and they’ll pair him with Chris Sale. That might be the best in the American League Central, even in a division in which the Detroit Tigers feature David Price and Justin Verlander, and the Cleveland Indians present Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, followed by Carlos Carrasco.
The only comparable duos in the majors, perhaps: Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma (Seattle Mariners) and Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann (Washington Nationals).
What pitchers could change the balance of power among starting rotations?
James Shields and Max Scherzer, each a free agent, and Cole Hamels, if the Phillies decide to trade him. Shields, who grew up in Newhall, is a good No. 2 starter who would be a perfect fit for the Dodgers at No. 3. Scherzer, reportedly shooting for $200 million, invariably will be rumored to be the subject of a bidding war between the Red Sox and New York Yankees, regardless of the level of interest by those teams.
What players led the Oakland Athletics in home runs last season?
Josh Donaldson (29), traded to the Toronto Blue Jays; Brandon Moss (25), traded to the Indians; Yoenis Cespedes (17), traded last summer to the Red Sox and last week to the Tigers.
Who is the key player in the Angels’ 2015 success?
Josh Hamilton. The Angels’ starting rotation remains underwhelming, particularly with ace Garrett Richards expected to start the season on the disabled list as he recovers from knee surgery. The Angels led the major leagues in runs last season, with Kendrick as their cleanup batter in September and in the playoffs. The Angels need to slug to win, which means they need Hamilton to at least resemble the Hamilton of old with the Texas Rangers, not the strikeout-prone, injury-prone version that surfaced in Anaheim.