Dodgers Offseason Moves

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said he would go into this offseason looking to fill the Dodgers basic needs.  He has largely followed the same formula he has in previous offseasons, staying away from the elite, top-tier free agents, but doing a fantastic job of snatching up the next best available players.  Above all else, Colletti took care of the Dodgers most pressing offseason issue, signing Matt Kemp to a multi-year extension.  Kemp, who finished 2nd in NL MVP voting,  inked an 8-year, $160 million contract back on November 19.  Other than Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols and Brewers 1B Prince Fielder, this year’s free agent class is not the most loaded.  And even the perennial big spenders, the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies, won’t be bidding on Pujols and Fielder because they are already committed long-term to their respective 1B.  Thus, locking up Kemp long-term was the best possible move the Dodgers could have made.  Kemp plays a premium position, and is a true, five-tool player.  Not only that, Kemp has the makeup and personality to be a true superstar here in L.A.  Kemp is only 27, and if the Dodgers didn’t pay him this year, all 29 other teams would have been lining up to pay him after next year.  The first signing of the offseason Colletti made was to resign LF Juan Rivera.  The Dodgers became a different team after Rivera arrived last August.  Not only did he fill the glaring void in left field, he finally gave the Dodgers some right-handed protection in the lineup.  With James Loney slumping for most of the year and Andre Ethier battling knee issues, it was easy enough for opposing teams to pitch around Kemp, that changed with Rivera in the lineup.  With Kemp, Ethier, Rivera, and Loney, the Dodgers have a solid and consistent middle of the order that will drive in runs next year.  Next, Colletti shored up the infield defense by signing, veteran 2B Mark Ellis to a 2-year deal.  Ellis is a solid, versatile defender, who can get on base and move runners over.  Ellis essentially replaces Jamey Carroll, who departed to join the Minnesota Twins, and gain the playing time he deserves.  Veteran C Rod Barajas left for Pittsburgh, so the Dodgers will roll with long-time farmhand A.J. Ellis behind the plate, but Colletti signed veteran C Matt Treanor as a capable backup and mentor for Ellis.  Neither has the pop that Barajas has, but at the end of the day, Rod Barajas is 36 and is a career .238 hitter.  The Dodgers also signed utilityman, and SoCal native and Cal State Northridge alum Adam Kennedy to shore up the bench.  Although it appears unlikely the Dodgers will re-sign Hiroki Kuroda, they will continue to have one of the deeper starting rotations in all of baseball.  Clayton Kershaw is coming off a Cy Young season, and shows absolutely no signs of letting up.  Kershaw is under club control for the next two years, so he will probably get a big money extension following next season.  Colletti inked former Mets lefty Chris Capuano to a 2 year, $10 million deal, and former Padre Aaron Harang to a similar 2-year $12 million dearl.   Although losing Kuroda would hurt, the additions of Capuano and Harang will certainly help to offset that.  Throw Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley in there, and the Dodgers have one of the most solid rotations around.  One would assume Colletti will look to add to the bullpen at this point.  However, the way the Dodgers are set up, they appear poised to build on the turnaround of the last two months of the season that saw them go from 15-games under .500, to finishing the season above .500.  The NL West continues to be a winnable division.  Arizona will return to defend their crown.  They have added former Oakland A’s pitcher Trevor Cahill to their rotation, coming off a rough year that saw him post a 4.16 ERA.  The Giants continue to be built around pitching, but their lineup does not match the Dodgers.  The Padres will continue to do the same, building on pitching, but fielding a lineup that will struggle to score runs.  The Rockies have some promising pitching prospects, but they do not appear to be ready to make an impact at the major league level yet.

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