Dodgers outfield

Be very afraid of the revamped Los Angeles Dodgers

Just when we had gotten use to the new Los Angeles Dodgers and their bottomless, oft-used wallet, they’ve gone and changed it up once again. There was once a time where the Dodgers couldn’t say no to an expensive veteran and could give a contract extension to just about anyone on the roster. They were a good team, but not the elite team many had thought they could become. But in the last week, we’ve seen a revamped Los Angeles Dodgers that has done away with their old bad habits and can now flex their financial clout and brain power at the same time. That’s a scary thought for the rest of baseball.

Before the Dodgers decided to throw Colletti out on his toupee, the potential for the Dodgers becoming a juggernaut had to be tempered. Even with their Scrooge McDuck vault-sized financial reserves, Colletti had spent the Dodgers into a bit of a corner. Their outfield was seemingly stuck with three wildly overpaid players and no obvious way to resolve that logjam. They were damned to spending the next few years, juggling five outfielders, only three of which were actually any good. They’d have to consistently run out suboptimal lineups just so manager Don Mattingly could do his best to manage all of the egos.

It was also a fairly old team. Outside of Puig, Kershaw and Ryu, the regulars were all 30+ years old. The cherry on top was that it was also a defensively challenged club due in part to that old age and in part to a few ill-conceived roster construction choices like the four highly paid outfielders, none of which can play center, and the willingness to allow Hanley Ramirez to play shortstop.

Enter Andrew Friedman. The easy way out for the new front office would have been to just throw more money at the problem. Friedman and company certainly did a little bit of that, but they also busted out the sledgehammers and started tearing down the parts of the club that they didn’t like. Instead of just giving Hanley Ramirez a fat new contract and the keys to the shortstop position as Colletti surely would have, Friedman let HanRam walk without even making a token offer to keep him. He brought in Jimmy Rollins, who is still a fine defender and far less of a malcontent, to hold down the fort until Corey Seager is ready.

Next he cashed out on the career season of Dee Gordon and brought in a more consistent and established veteran with more stable OBP skills and defensive prowess. A few role player type prospects were thrown in, just for fun, as was Dan Haren, seemingly to force him in retirement, but that’s another story for another time.

He followed that up by ridding himself of the strong bat but severely challenged glove and a large percentage of the monster contract of Matt Kemp. In return, he got a quality young starting catcher and two young pitching prospects.

To round things out, he signed Brandon McCarthy to replace Haren in the rotation in the role of the solid veteran backend starter.

It is really a pretty impressive feat for the new regime. They were willing to embrace older, established players like Rollins, McCarthy and Kendrick to help them win in 2015, but they also planned extensively for the future by getting young building blocks like Grandal and Weiland, not to mention clearing the way for stud prospect Joc Pederson. All the while Friedman kept the Dodgers finances in check so that they could still potentially make a run at Max Scherzer or James Shields if they are so inclined nor did he trade any top prospects which he can either use to build for the future or utilize in a potential Cole Hamels deal.

What Friedman really appears to be doing is remaking the Dodgers in the mold of the successful Rays teams he cultivated via great pitching and great defense, only this time he has unlimited resources to create the very best version of that team. Already he has turned an average Dodger infield defense into arguably the best defensive infield in the majors. The outfield defense is better with Pederson in center and Kemp not present at all. The rotation got stronger too with McCarthy stepping in for Haren.

The best part might be that Friedman isn’t even done yet. He can help the outfield defense and the team’s financial outlook further if he is able to dump Andre Ethier on someone. If the conspiracy theorists prove prescient and all of the machinations culminate in the acquisition of Scherzer, Hamels or Shields will have shaped themselves into a top defensive club with an elite rotation.

That’s quite the transformation in just one offseason, which is what should frighten the rest of the league to its core. Friedman has proven that in two months he can both reshape this club in his image and upgrade the roster at the same time. He also isn’t going to continually sacrifice the future for one run at glory, like Colletti so often did. He’s setting up the Dodgers to finally become that juggernaut everyone feared and to remain at that level for a very long time.

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of 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.