The LA Times’s Jack Harris offers a recap and analysis of the Dodgers’ relative inactivity this offseason.
For most of Andrew Friedman’s tenure as the club’s president of baseball operations, this is how the Dodgers have operated.
They’ll flex their financial muscle on deals they believe to be worth the value, but rarely expand their financial strike zone beyond what they deem a deal to be worth.
In recent offseasons, that has meant hanging around “the backboard,” as Friedman likes to say, in hopes of scooping up a loose superstar on the rebound.
Sometimes it works, such as their blockbuster trade and extension for Mookie Betts in 2020, or the shock signing of Freddie Freeman after the league’s lockout last spring. Sometimes it doesn’t, such as when the Dodgers missed out on Bryce Harper in 2018 and Gerrit Cole in 2019.
But for a club that prioritizes “sustained success” — another Friedman principle — and considers multi-year outlooks when constructing its roster and payroll, it has become the default course of action.
This winter proved no different.
While Rodón and Jacob deGrom got nine-figure guarantees, the Dodgers filled out their pitching staff with Noah Syndergaard and Shelby Miller (they were also heavily linked with Seth Lugo).
While Trea Turner, Bogaerts and Correa secured long-term deals, the Dodgers added J.D. Martinez on a one-year deal, and Jason Heyward and Steven Duggar on minor league contracts (they also made a strong push for Kevin Kiermaier).
The team never completely abandoned the thought of another marquee signing. With Dansby Swanson, for example, they positioned themselves as a shorter-term alternative for the All-Star shortstop in case he didn’t get the mega-deal he was seeking. Swanson eventually agreed to a seven-year contract with the Chicago Cubs before the holidays.
But in the end, the Dodgers effectively decided to double-down on themselves, bypassing the very top of the free-agent market with the belief they could contend in 2023 in other, less expensive ways.
I don’t have major complaints about the team’s unwillingness to spend a fortune on long multi-year contracts for guys in their thirties, although I’d like to have seen them keep Trea Turner and re-sign Justin Turner (for a lot less than Trea). We’ll just have to wait and see how this younger team does and trust that Friedman and Company will be able to find competent help at the trade deadline.
The Dodgers have not re-signed Justin Turner. They have lost Craig Kimbrel, Tyler Anderson, Cody Bellinger, Chris Martin, Tommy Kahnle, Andrew Heaney, and Trea Turner to free agency or non-renewal of club option. David Price is a free agent and the Dodgers have expressed no interest in re-signing him. They have not signed Aaron Judge or Xander Bogaerts or Dansby Swanson (although he’s still available) or Justin Verlander or Jacob DeGrom. They’ve signed Shelby Miller and Jason Heyward; amusingly, the Braves traded Heyward to the Cardinals for Miller in 2014.
All in all, so far the Dodgers have made no external moves to meet any of their needs at shortstop, center field, or starting pitching, although Clayton Kershaw is coming back. There’s plenty of time to do so; spring training won’t start until February 14.
RHP Brandon McCarthy (2-0, 2.12 ERA) takes the mound for the Dodgers and RHP Shelby Miller (2-1, 3.50 ERA) does so for the D-Backs. Both pitchers had forgettable 2016 seasons — McCarthy with Tommy John surgery and Miller with poor performances all round (3-12, 6.15 ERA for the year with no wins at Chase Field).
McCarthy, 33, has bounced around the big leagues — the Dodgers are his sixth team. He’s never had a brilliant season but has been serviceable when healthy. His career record is 59-68 with a 4.13 ERA in 1069 innings.
Miller, 26, was a 15-game winner in 2013 and 2014 with the Cardinals before going to the Braves in exchange for outfielder Jason Heyward. He had a horrible W-L record (6-17) but a good ERA (3.02) in 2015 with the Braves. He was traded to the D-Backs following that season. For his career he’s 37-48 with a 3.68 ERA in 694 innings.
The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Andrew Toles and Yasiel Puig are a combined 16-for-33 (.485) against Miller. On the other hand, before Saturday’s game Goldschmidt was a career .313 hitter (121-for-386) with 24 homers and 80 RBIs vs. the Dodgers.
Liberatore recalled, Eibner optioned before McCarthy takes the mound in the Dodgers' series finale in Arizona https://t.co/spGFUypUMV
Rookie RHP Brock Stewart (1-2, 6.55 ERA) gets the start for the Dodgers, replacing the scratched Bud Norris. His opponent will be RHP Shelby Miller (2-11, 7.12 ERA), who hasn’t had a good year since he played for the Cardinals in 2014. They traded him to the Braves before 2015 and the D-Backs gave up several good prospects to get him last off-season. He’s 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA in three starts since being called back up from Triple-A Reno where he’d been sent to work out his troubles. He’s 1-2 with a 7.02 ERA against the Dodgers in six career starts against them.
Lineup when available.
Tonight's Dodger lineup: Utley 2B Seager SS Turner 3B González 1B Reddick RF Pederson CF Toles LF Ruiz C Stewart P
The D-Backs send out RHP Shelby Miller, who has disappointed them this season. He and Greinke were the two big acquisitions the team made to bolster their pitching staff last offseason, and Miller’s 2-10, 6.81 ERA record is not at all what management had in mind when they got him. He’ll face another righty, Ross Stripling (3-6, 4.16 ERA). The Dodgers’ expectations of him were not highly publicized at the start of the year. He’s had trouble recently: he’s winless in his last four starts and has an 5.09 ERA over that period, but the Dodgers haven’t hit much behind him.
Tonight's Dodger lineup: Utley 2B Seager SS Turner 3B González 1B Grandal C Reddick RF Pederson CF Toles LF Stripling P
Startlingly, the Royals are up three games to none in the ALCS. Today they send out lefty Jason Vargas to try to win the series. He last pitched in Game One of the ALDS against the Angels, giving up two home runs over six innings. He’s 2-3 with a 1.94 ERA in eight career starts vs. the Orioles. Vargas will face a very well-rested Miguel Gonzalez, who hasn’t pitched since September 28.
The Giants took a 2-1 lead in the series on a Randy Choate throwing error in the 10th inning of Tuesday’s game. They’ll put Ryan Vogelsong on the hill Wednesday night against Shelby Miller of the Cards. Vogelsong went 5 2/3 innings against the Nationals in his NLDS appearance October 7, giving up two hits and one run. Miller gave up five hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings the same day in his NLDS outing against the Dodgers.
This is it for the Dodgers. They must win today. If not, they’ll go home, lick their wounds and hunt for reliable middle relief in the offseason. Recognizing that, they’re sending Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in either league, out to do battle with Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74 ERA), who’ll be making his first appearance of the postseason. Kershaw has to get past his uncharacteristic failure in Game One. Assuming he does, he still has to rely on the Dodgers’ offense, which has been anything but scintillating. In Game Three they were a dreadful 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. They desperately need Gonzales (.167 for the series), Gordon (.154), Uribe (.077) and Puig (.250) to get untracked, and they need them today.
The Nationals must also win today or take the winter off early. In hopes of doing so they hand the ball to Gio Gonzales, who got on a roll in September, going 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA and righting what had been a forgettable season. His opponent will be Ryan Vogelsong, who did just the opposite in the last month, going 0-4 with a 5.53 ERA.
The Nationals too have a hitting problem. Third-baseman Anthony Rendon is 7-for-15 (.467) this postseason. The rest of the Nats’ starting position players have combined to go 13-for-96 (.135).
Clayton Kershaw brings his 21 1/3 straight scoreless innings streak to the game along with his 8-2 W-L record and his 2.24 ERA. The Cardinals counter with Shelby Miller, who is 7-6 with a 3.75 ERA on the year. Miller left his last start after 2 2/3 innings with back stiffness, however, so the Cardinals are hoping he can go deeper but keeping their bullpen ready.
Of interest: The Dodgers have played nine straight games without committing an error, their best defensive stretch of the season.
#Dodgers lineup vs. Cardinals: