dodgers

2013 Offseason Primer: Los Angeles Dodgers

With a roster full of big names and an astronomical payroll, the Dodgers had justifiably lofty expectations. They overcame a slew of injuries and a slow start to salvage a division title from their season but ultimately fell short in the NLCS. While they couldn't buy themselves a World Series in 2013, there is no reason to think that Dodger ownership won't finance another wild spending spree in order increase their chances of winning it all.

Needs
The Dodgers don't have a lot of actual needs, but they aren't going to let a trivial thing like that stop them from pursuing just about every marquee free agent on the market. That being said, one real need they do need to address is third base. Juan Uribe is coming off a shockingly great season, but he is a free agent. The Dodgers could very well re-sign him, but given their preference for pursuing big names, it is more likely that Ned Colletti will at least kick the tires and more famous option first.

Catcher is a more minor need as they do have A.J. Ellis already in place. He's a perfectly capable backstop, but he is far from what one would call a star and arguably not even what some teams would consider an everyday catcher. At a minimum, the Dodgers will be open to change should an obvious upgrade fall in their lap.

With Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu in place, it is hard to believe that LA needs rotation help but they kind of do. Chris Capuano and Ricky Nolasco finished 2013 in the Dodger rotation, but both are free agents now. In-house options are Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett, but both of those players have major health question marks. Youngsters like Stephen Fife, Matt Magill and Zach Lee could (and probably should) get a shot at filling one of the open slots, but the Colletti philosophy often mandates that prospects be ignored in favor of a free agent that is significantly more expensive and probably not even any better. These are the things that happen when you have unlimited access to Scrooge McDuck's money vault.

Possible Options
Though the Dodgers already signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to be their nominal second baseman, they will certainly be linked to Robinson Cano. Dodger management has said they are not going to pursue Cano, nobody is actually going to buy into that until Cano signs elsewhere.

Similarly, the Dodgers haven't really been directly linked to Brian McCann, he would be that obvious upgrade over A.J. Ellis, so that signing can't be ruled out either. Then again, with McCann being declared the unofficial Sheriff of the Fun Police, it is hard to see him being a cultural fit for the fist-pumping, pool-urinating Dodgers.

There aren't a lot of free agent options for the Dodgers at third base, but seeing them get creative by sliding Hanley Ramirez to third and signing Stephen Drew to replace him would make a world of sense. That probably won't happen though as HanRam is pretty insistent about staying at short and the Dodgers seem to be OK with that despite the defensive hit that comes with it.

Where the Dodgers have real, confirmed interest in free agents is on the free agent market. Many believe that the bidding war for Masahiro Tanaka is going to come down to them, the Yankees and the Red Sox. Should the Dodgers somehow lose out there (which is hard to imagine given their history of deliberately overpaying on the international free agent market), Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda could emerge as fallback options. Heck, they could emerge as complements as well since there are no apparent spending limits at Chavez Ravine.

Trade Options
Though their free spending ways get all of the attention, the Dodgers actually figure to be more active on the trade market. Part of the reason behind that is pure necessity. With the emergence of Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers now have too many outfielders that deserve to start. That means either Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp will be shopped heavily this winter. Obviously Ethier is who they would prefer to part with, but they have been trying to sell him off before the ink even dried on his onerous contract extension and have thus far been unable to unload him. Kemp is a MVP caliber player, but his health woes last season have to give the Dodgers pause about counting on him going forward. Cashing out on him now before his stock really starts to drop isn't the worst idea in the world but it is hard to believe they would forfeit his star potential. It remains far more likely that LA will just eat a big chunk of Ethier's contract to finally be rid of him.

Trade Targets
Just as much as the Dodgers are expected to pursue Tanaka, they are perhaps even more so going to be making a run at David Price. While Colletti is often reluctant to promote his prospects to the big league club, he won't hesitate to trade them for big league talent. Though the minor talent has been thinned some in recent years, the Dodgers still have a bumper crop of prospects getting close to the bigs and many of them are pitchers, always a hot commodity in trades. The Dodgers lack the big stud prospects that a team like the Rangers could offer, but they could overcome their lack of quality with an abundance of quantity or by throwing in money. A similar strategy could be used if the Phillies finally get around to making Cliff Lee available.

Due to their need at third base, they should also be in the center of any trade talks for chase Headley, should the Padres make him available. The fact that San Diego is a division rival and only a few months removed from an ugly brawl with the Dodgers will certainly complicate matters, but it is nothing that the Dodgers' never wavering willingness to overpay can't cure. Should that fail, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Dodgers try and pry Aramis Ramirez loose from the Brewers.

Really, and you should have been beaten over the head with this by now, anyone of significant value is someone the Dodgers are going to pursue. Even if they aren't really pursuing a target in trade or free agency, expect them to be mentioned if only for leverage purposes as all teams know that nothing is off limits for Los Angeles.

Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of Monkeywithahalo.com and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.

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