How would you grade the Dodger’s offseason so far? The Dodgers have been busy retaining most of their players while trying to plug holes with free agent acquisitions. They resigned relievers Brian Wilson, J.P. Howell, and of course extended Clayton Kershaw for the next five years at the least. They shrugged off rumors of trading outfielders Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford, as all three players ended up staying put.
Actually at one point all of the Dodger outfielders were rumored or speculated to be involved in possible trade scenarios with nobody being moved. The Dodgers were involved in a crapful of David Price rumors which never came to fruition, and the Dodgers had been reportedly interested in Masahiro Tanaka. The club was one of many other teams to recently offer Tanaka a contract. Although Tanaka chose to sign with the Yankees, the Dodgers are not missing out on anything with a strong roster heading into the 2014 season.
While the club did not make any trades at all this offseason, there were a lot of comings and goings on the Dodger roster.
The Dodgers made five additions to the roster via free agency, with four of them being pitchers. Most notable is the resigning of right handed reliever and resident weirdo Brian Wilson. The beard signed for one year and ten million dollars. He’ll provide primary set-up duties during the seventh and eighth innings. The Dodgers acquired the Beard last season during mid-season via free agency and he made the signing stand up by allowing just one earned run in 18 games, and posting a 0.66 ERA.
Resigning J.P. Howell was also imperative. Howell one of the Dodgers only reliable left handers, will once again be paired with rookie Paco Rodriguez as the Dodger’s lone left handers in the bullpen. Howell was spectacular last season by posting a 2.03 ERA in 67 games. Howell held left handed hitters to a miniscule .164 batting average and .452 OPS.
The Dodgers made a gamble by bringing in embattled former Cleveland closer Chris Perez. The right hander comes in with a lot of experience. Perez saved over 196 games during his tenure with the Indians. Perez also posted solid strikeout numbers with back-to-back 9.0 whiff per nine rates. Perez was a two-time all-star with a 3.41 career ERA. There’s little risk for just 2.3 million dollars. He won’t close, but he should pair with Wilson for seventh and eighth inning duties.
The Dodgers signed right handed starter and veteran Dan Haren to what seems like a modest one year 10 million dollar contract. Despite having a poor season in Washington last year, Haren comes with hope that he could turn his career around. A former all-star, Haren pitched much better in the second half of 2013, posting a 3.52 ERA and an 8.2 whiff per nine rate in that second half. In September, Haren had a 2.89 ERA and 27 whiffs against seven walks. Haren should slot in as the number four starter in the Dodger rotation.
The last free agent acquisition for the Dodgers was the 28 (32 million after the signing bonus) million dollar signing of Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero. Little is known about him but supposedly he was an all-star in the Cuban leagues, and scouting reports tell us he is an offense first player with power. The Dodgers tried to take a look at him in winter ball, but Guerrero strained his hamstring and was shut down after that. Guerrero solved some kind of visa issue and appears to be ready to play when camp breaks. Still with the lack of information on him, and the hamstring injury, many people consider Guerrero to be a prospect and seem to think he should start the season in double-A ball. I think that would be a huge mistake. The Dodgers need to see what they have with Guerrero, and you don’t pay a minor leaguer 28 million dollars. Guerrero is not a minor leaguer and should under no circumstances be wasted in the minors.
Let’s not forget the Dodgers resigning of lovable portly third sacker Juan Uribe. The veteran infielder played flawless defense at third, and provided a potent bat. Uribe’s NLDS clinching home run against the Braves insured he would go from being one of the most hated Dodgers, to one of the most beloved Dodgers of all time. Uribe should have a special place in all of our hearts. His new contract insures that empanada heroics will return to Dodger Stadium again in 2014.
The Dodgers also made some minor additions with the usual asortment of spring training NRIs, but none of those are notable, nor noteworthy. Unless you consider Chone Figgins noteworthy, and why would you?
The Dodgers lost two of their scrappy utility players, and hilarious as it may sound, may miss those two guys the most. The loss of Nick Punto means there is virtually no backup shortstop behind Hanley Ramirez. Punto provided a pretty solid two win season for the Dodgers I 2013, filling in when and where he was needed. Nick left us for the Oakland A’s and the dumpy coliseum. Have fun Nick, seriously.
Skip Schumaker who was so bad didn’t even register in the positive WAR, left via free agency to play in Cincinnati. Schumaker plays all three outfield positions and second base, and even his loss will be felt on a very thin bench for the Dodgers in 2014.
Perhaps the loss that stings the most is the loss of solid veteran Mark Ellis. The second baseman signed with the Cardinals. Ellis batted .270 in 2013, with six home runs in 126 games played. While providing his usual solid defense at the keystone.
The Dodgers said goodbye to long time reliever Ronald Belisario. The troubled goggle wearing Venezuelan right hander was eventually picked up by the White Sox, once the Dodgers released him. Belisario had a bit of a down year in 2013 after having a very solid 2012 season. Belisario’s career has been marred by visa and drug problems. The Dodgers are hoping that the addition of Chris Perez will ease the loss of one of their primary ground ball guys.
The Dodgers bid farewell to starter Ricky Nolasco. This is no big loss since I am not sad to see him go. Nolasco is a bum. Plain and simple. We’re talking about a four earned runs per start pitcher who had one very good month. We won’t forget those five great starts. We also won’t forget his really lousy last four starts as a Dodger or his aggravating NLCS game 4 home run served up to Matt Holliday. If the choice was to overpay 50 million dollars to Nolasco, or sign Haren for one year and ten million, I’ll take Haren over Nolasco any day. Nolasco eventually signed with the desperate Minnesota Twins for around 50 million. (any team that gives Nolasco 50 million dollars is beyond desperate.
I think the best part of the Dodger’s hot stove was the way they wisely kept their roster intact by keeping most of their players. The resigning of Wilson and Howell looks like very shrewd moves, and bringing back Uribe was a move they had to make because of limited options. Of course the best part of the hot stove was extending Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers seem to think that a 2.3 million dollar flyer on troubled Chris Perez could pay off big time, and they’re hoping that a change of scenery is all Dan Haren needs to revive his game. We forget that Haren when healthy was a 200+ strikeout, 200+ innings pitched guy almost every season.
Meanwhile the Dodgers await healthy returns from Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, and left hander Scott Elbert. Hope for a return to form from Brandon League, and looking forward to a full sophomore campaign from Yasiel Puig.
It looks like second base, and the bench will be weak spots on the 2014 Dodger roster. The Dodgers spent a lot of money to keep their players from walking, most of them. It’s hard to believe that after all of these moves, they still have not made a single trade this offseason.