Andrew Friedman says Dodgers will work on rotation but is mum on plans
With Zack Greinke now a free agent, Clayton Kershaw is the only frontline starting pitcher on the Dodgers.
By first baseman Adrian Gonzalez’s count, that’s not enough.
“I definitely think that in this day and age you need three frontline starters to go deep in the playoffs,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez would like for the Dodgers to start by re-signing Greinke. Or if they can’t, by acquiring another top-tier free-agent pitcher.
But is that in the Dodgers’ plans?
Andrew Friedman, the team’s president of baseball operations, isn’t saying.
Asked whether he thought it was necessary for Kershaw to be paired in the rotation with another ace-caliber starter, Friedman replied, “I don’t think we have a hard and fast rule on that.”
Friedman pointed to the four teams that reached the championship series in their respective leagues: the Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs.
“All were constructed very differently,” he said. “It’s just another illustration of the fact that you can get there in different ways. It’s very much about assessing the 25-man roster and not looking at any one component to say, ‘Can you win with this, can you not?’ ”
Friedman said after the Dodgers hire a manager their efforts would focus on setting a starting rotation.
Kershaw and Alex Wood are the only two established starting pitchers on the Dodgers roster who are healthy.
Along with Greinke, David Price, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann are frontline starters. But each is looking for a lucrative, long-term contract. Greinke and Price are expected to sign deals worth more than $150 million.
“You look back over time and so many long-term free-agent contracts have worked out really poorly,” Friedman said. “More than anything else, you get to a point where you’re significantly hindering your ability to win in the future.”
Last winter, in Friedman’s first off-season with the Dodgers, the free-agent market included two standout starters: Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210-million contract with the Washington Nationals. Lester inked a six-year, $155-million deal with the Chicago Cubs.
Meantime, the Dodgers acquired Brandon McCarthy for four years and $48 million, and Brett Anderson, for one year and $10 million.
Friedman said the Dodgers have also started to explore trade possibilities.
While Greinke is certain to reject the qualifying offer he received last week from the Dodgers — if accepted, Greinke would be under contract next season for $15.8 million — Anderson could take his.
Anderson was a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher for the Dodgers. He was 10-9 with a 3.69 earned-run average in a career-high 31 starts.
The Dodgers started last season expecting Anderson to be their fifth starter. After season-ending injuries to Hyun-Jin Ryu and McCarthy, he became their third.
Ryu and McCarthy are still under contract.
Gonzalez said he views Ryu as a potential frontline starter.
“Ryu, if he comes back and is the Ryu that we know, he’s one of those three guys,” Gonzalez said.
Ryu is recovering from an operation on a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Friedman called Ryu a “big wild card.”
“I don’t know yet if we can fully count on him or not,” Friedman said. “We’ll know more in the next few weeks, the next month.”
McCarthy is expected to return some time next season from reconstructive elbow surgery.
One area where Friedman thinks the Dodgers will be improved is in starting pitching depth.
The club’s triple-A Oklahoma City rotation could include several pitchers who started games in the major leagues last season, including Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, Joe Wieland and Zach Lee. Joining that core could be Julio Urias, Jose De Leon and Jharel Cotton, who are among the organization’s top pitching prospects.
“That being said,” Friedman acknowledged, “we still need to round out our opening-day pitching staff.”
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