Back in blue
The Dodgers avoided arbitration with all of their eligible players when they agreed to terms with four players last week. This season, closer Kenley Jansen will get $10.65 million, third baseman Justin Turner will get $5.1 million, catcher Yasmani Grandal gets $2.8 million and pitcher Luis Avilan gets $1.39 million.
This gives the Dodgers 20 players under contract for 2016, which doesn’t include guys such as Kiké Hernandez, who are locks to make the team and can have their contracts renewed unilaterally by the Dodgers. As of today, the Dodgers’ payroll is $212.4 million, and that includes money they owe to guys like Matt Kemp ($3.5 million). All salary numbers are courtesy of truebluela.com.
So basically, as of now here is your Dodgers team:
Scott Van Slyke
In other words, the same basic team as last year, minus Zack Greinke and Howie Kendrick, adding Kazmir and Maeda to replace Greinke and replacing Kendrick with a Hernandez/Utley platoon.
Is this a team that can win the division? Sure. If Puig, Pederson and Grandal, or even if just two of the three, have the seasons they are capable of, and if Kazmir and Maeda have above-average seasons. The Giants and Diamondbacks aren’t exactly locks to win the division. Have you looked at Arizona’s infield, other than Paul Goldschmidt? Not a lot happening there. And San Francisco’s outfield could be one of the worst in the NL. So every team has at least one hole.
The Dodgers were 23-9 in games that Greinke started last season. Will Kazmir or Maeda do that well? Unlikely. But the Dodgers have a deeper rotation than the other NL West teams.
Here’s how I see it: The Dodgers have the same bullpen as last season (a bullpen that was below average), about the same offense (I figure Seager over Jimmy Rollins makes up for Utley over Kendrick) and the rotation is not as good at the top two spots, but is deeper overall. Everything will have to break right for the Dodgers to get all the way to the World Series and win it. And winning the World Series should be the goal each season. Right now, I would favor Arizona to win the West, followed by the Dodgers and then the Giants. A lot of experts are picking the Dodgers to win the West. Of course, many of those same experts picked Washington to win the World Series last season. And there’s still time for the Dodgers to sign someone or make a trade before the season starts.
What about Yoenis?
There is a lot of rumbling lately about the Dodgers signing Yoenis Cespedes, who has hit 106 homers in four seasons and would add some power to the offense. The Dodgers would not have to give up a draft pick if they signed him, which is always an important consideration for Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi. I would offer Cespedes a three-year, $75-million deal and see what happens. Of course, if Justin Upton can get a six-year, $132-million deal, then Cespedes might just laugh at three years, $75 million. But if they did somehow sign him, that would give the Dodgers an outfield of Cespedes in left, Pederson in center and Puig in right. Cespedes isn’t perfect (he hardly walks at all), but adding his power to the middle of the lineup would give the team a whole new dynamic.
Everything I hear is that the Dodgers are satisfied with their offense and not looking to add someone. Seems like a mistake to me.
And the bullpen?
Of course, the big problem for the Dodgers looks like it will be the bullpen. Again. Jansen is one of the best closers around, so no problem there, but which Chris Hatcher is the real one? The one who couldn’t get anyone out in the first half of 2015, or the one who was a dominant setup man in September on October? The answer is probably somewhere in between. Either way, unless an upgrade is made, it will still be nail-biting time at Dodger Stadium when the starter comes out. The Dodgers tried to address the problem, but the Aroldis Chapman trade fell apart. Last season, the bullpen finished 19th with a 3.91 ERA. How this can remain a problem for what looks like the third consecutive season is baffling. Someone is going to have to step up and be a dominant setup man, and I don’t see a lot of potential for that with this current group.
If the season started today, where do you think the Dodgers would finish? Vote in our online poll and let us know, and drop me an email with your thoughts and I will share some of your responses in the next Dodgers Dugout. Click here to vote.
The Dodgers have added Alex Anthopoulos, who was named the Sporting News’ executive of the year last season, to their front office as vice president of baseball operations. Anthopoulos joins a crowded decision-making staff that includes Friedman, Zaidi, Stan Kasten, Josh Byrnes, Gerry Hunsicker and Ned Colletti. No wonder the team has so much trouble improving the bullpen. It’s because they are busy looking for guys to add to the front office.
Just a reminder that Vin Scully is heading into his final season, and most of us still can’t watch the Dodgers on TV. Can someone please lock Time Warner Cable and the cable/satellite providers in a room and force them to make a deal? Maybe one of the thousands in the Dodgers’ front office can devote all his time to helping the parties reach a compromise. I won’t hold my breath.
Watch as Glenn Frey joins Vin Scully in the booth and calls a home run by Pedro Guerrero. Click here to see it.