7 Offseason Moves the Los Angeles Dodgers Should Make but Probably Won't
The Dodgers are now big spenders.
They showed this when they pulled off the blockbuster deal with the Red Sox.
Unfortunately, they also acquired Shane Victorino, and their season was cut shorter than expected.
The Dodgers are very close to being an elite team. They have the pieces to build around and it is now about putting the final touches around players like Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw to ensure that they return to the postseason and win their first World Series since '88.
Give Shane Victorino His Walking Papers
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Shane Victorino was a complete disaster.
I often sit at home at night wondering if he was actually a spy sent to sabotage the end of the season.
Maybe he never felt comfortable moving from center field to left field. Maybe he couldn't handle playing in a city where it's actually always sunny.
He does not shoulder all the blame. Some of the blame needs to be put on Don Mattingly, who should have had the guts to bench him. The only thing I can say for certain is that he hit .245 and belted just two homers.
He probably won't embrace a platoon or part-time role. Let the Carl Crawford era begin.
Don't Give Up on Dee Gordon
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The man they call Skinny Swag is just 24 years old.
Judging from his Twitter, I am sure he would embrace a trade to a city that has more Chick-fil-As than LA, where there is just one. But there is no reason to pound the panic button quite yet.
He offers little trade value after a disappointing campaign.
After watching him in the dugout the second half of the season, it's obvious he is a great teammate and liked in the clubhouse, so why not keep him around?
With the shortstop position being locked up for the foreseeable future, it would be wise for the Dodgers to let Dee learn either third base or second base in spring training. Worst-case scenario, he turns into a Tony Womack-type player who plays second base, shortstop and outfield.
Sign Kelly Johnson
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I am writing this article based on the idea that the Dodgers are not going to just sign the best possible free agents at every position because they are now operating on Monopoly money.
Even though they might have unlimited money, it is the small transactions—like signing Kelly Johnson for cheap—that win championships.
He will be cheap coming off a couple of down years in baseball purgatory, otherwise known as Toronto. His last year in the NL he hit 26 homers and batted .284. He can slide right into that No. 2 spot in the order, have a platoon with Mark Ellis or be a great backup second baseman.
Strengthen the Bullpen
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You can never have too many arms in the back of your bullpen.
Brandon League was an absolute stud down the stretch.
What a coincidence that he's becoming a free agent in the offseason. Pay him like they did with Matt Guerrier, and he will become a bust—just like Guerrier.
The Dodgers would be much better served spending the money on Mike Adams, who is the staple of consistency and has experience in the NL West.
I also think taking a gamble every offseason on a bullpen arm can pay huge dividends.
Why not sign Ryan Madsen or Joakim Soria? Maybe both? Both missed the entire 2012 season but can be the types of signings that solidify the bullpen and offer little risk.
Add some lefties. They are going to lose Randy Choate, who was not as good as expected. Getting a couple of lefties like veteran Darren Oliver and trading for Lucas Luetge of the Mariners would go a long way in strengthening the overall depth of the bullpen.
Maybe even stealing Jeremy Affeldt from the Giants would signify that the Dodgers are the new bullies of the NL West.
Add Depth to the Bench
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When the Dodgers made their runs to the NLCS, they had quality veterans who started in utility roles and took on more important roles as the season went on. Think Reed Johnson and Jamey Carroll.
Players who could fill this role perfectly by position:
First Base: Carlos Pena
I don't know if a team can make him a starting first baseman anymore. He has shown what he is: a good defensive first baseman who can't hit .200, and his power numbers are not what they once were. But he has good pop for a backup and can play defense in late innings if needed.
Second Base/Shortstop: Mark Ellis
He will hopefully start the season as the backup second baseman due to the previously mentioned signing of Kelly Johnson. The next move would be to sign former Dodger Cesar Izturis, who can field and brings veteran experience to the club.
Third Base: Placido Polanco
Maybe the best defensive third baseman in baseball. He can back up Luis Cruz or become the starter if Cruz is a one-year wonder. He will come at a bargain price due to his age and injured 2012 season.
Sign Mike Napoli
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Mike Napoli should be on the top of their must-sign list.
He is a rare catcher who can hit for power and manage the pitching staff. He was one of the only players on the Rangers who hit well when the season was falling apart.
He fits perfectly in the No. 7 spot for the Dodgers and would bolster this lineup to the best in MLB.
A.J. Ellis would become one of the best backups in the game, adding depth off the bench, and would be a serviceable option to start if anything happened to Napoli.
Do Not Sign a Free-Agent Starting Pitcher
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The free-agent options for this year's free starters are bleak at best.
The Dodgers must reach and overpay for a pitcher like Ryan Dempster or Jake Peavy, who would command money as if they are top starters, but in reality would be a reliable third or fourth on a top team.
Try to work a deal with the Rays to somehow get James Shields, who has a $9 million club option, or David Price, who the Rays will not be able to afford when he hits the market in free agency next year.
Can you imagine Price pitching in the NL? That would not even be fair.