Ways for the Dodgers to juice up their off-season profile
Yawn, the Dodgers are still there. Still looking extremely formidable, but with precious little new activity to get the fan base all riled anew.
And it could easily end this way, too, the Dodgers filling some utility and bullpen roles and still heading to spring training as the National League favorite. Take their selfies and be all content.
Or there could still be time for some serious activity. Is it really needed? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean some it may happen. The Dodgers could yet:
1) Add a significant starting pitcher.
This would likely mean signing Masahiro Tanaka, assuming someday his Japanese club figures out if they’re going to post him, or trading for Tampa’s David Price. Trading for Price would likely mean losing several of their top prospects, which they are loath to do, but Tanaka would just mean money, which has been their modus operandi.
If neither develops, they could start the season with Josh Beckett as the fifth starter, which if he returns well from his nerve surgery, could be just fine. Or if Chad Billingsley returns slightly ahead of schedule from his Tommy John procedure, he could slide in.
Ethier way, a rotation that starts with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren is going to be formidable.
2) Extend somebody. You know, like Manager Don Mattingly, Hanley Ramirez or Kershaw. All have been discussed though none have of yet to happen.
All three could go down before pitchers and catchers report Fe. 8., though there is less urgency for Ramirez. He’s under contract next season for $16 million and coming of a season where he was either brilliant or on the disabled list.
It would be nice to eliminate the lame-duck status that clearly irks Mattingly. And if they extend Kershaw, they can avoid his final year of arbitration eligibility.
3) Trade one of their four high-profile outfielders.
Unless you buy the possibility of the Dodgers dealing Yasiel Puig for Price, the two names most heard in trade rumors are Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Carl Crawford seems to have too many health questions.
Kemp is coming off a pair of surgeries. Ethier is still owed $71.5 over the next four years, but Jeff Sullivan argues at Fangraphs, that with what outfielders are signing for now and still expected to (Shin-Soo Choo reportedly turned down $140 million from the Yankees), Ethier could yet be an attractive pick-up for a team with outfield need.
So things could yet happen. There will likely be some fall out. But unlike two years ago, the Dodgers are now dealing from a position of strength. The urgency is much different, even if it creates an off-season yawn.
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