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The Dodgers must keep Kershaw in mind when writing contracts.
The Dodgers possess several key components in both the starting and relief corps.
Clayton Kershaw is the obvious superstar of the group with his annual Cy Young-worthy campaigns. Behind him, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang produced fine numbers in spite of poor run support that helped lead to .500 records.
There are also three other starters who were solid in limited action this season, but whose future production is contingent on certain factors.
Chad Billingsley registered 14 quality starts out of a total of 25. He posted a 3.55 ERA and nearly had a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (128 SO, 45 BB).
His problem is a possible Tommy John surgery looming in the future after tearing a ligament in August (per the Los Angeles Times, via Rotoworld). That procedure would rule out any playing time in 2013.
Ted Lilly brings with him another injury concern, albeit not as severe. If all goes well with him following arthroscopic surgery in September, he’ll be ready for spring training. While an unknown commodity right now, he’d be a good No. 5 starter if healthy.
With Joe Blanton likely departing in free agency, that leaves Josh Beckett as the final member of the rotation. He pitched well (2.93 ERA, 38 K in 43 IP) through seven starts after being acquired from Boston. And his 2-3 record would be far better if he received more than three runs total in his three losses.
Beckett’s issue is whether he continues these types of performances or reverts back to 2012 Red Sox Beckett. If the former holds true, then the Dodgers have a formidable one-two punch, with solid pieces in the back end of the rotation.
Even if one of these starters fails to materialize in 2013, there are enough pieces in place for the Dodgers to compete as a viable squad. Throwing another $100 million-plus deal at, say, Zack Greinke, just isn’t necessary or financially responsible.
Team Chairman Mark Walter said the team has the means—shockingly enough—to take on such a contract, but also would not throw money at a big name if it wasn’t worth it in the long run (via the Los Angeles Times).
I expect the Dodgers to make a move, but not anything that will garner the attention of a Greinke-type deal. As MLB Trade Rumors postulates, signing their former starter Hiroki Kuroda seems much more reasonable.
Plus, there’s a guy named Kershaw who might just command a nice little contract in the near future.
Regarding the bullpen, the Dodgers are equipped with strikeout machines at eighth inning set-up man and closer. Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen feature top-notch stuff and will anchor the back end of the ‘pen.
Brandon League, Randy Choate and Jamey Wright, however, are free agents. LA will need to re-sign one (or more) and pick up another available reliever to pair with the likes of Scott Elbert and Javy Guerra.
This area of the team needs some reinforcements, and should receive judicious—and not foolish—financial commitments.