Early in the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers have already been involved in several moves. With the departures of Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto and the arrival of Dan Haren, we already know that several members of the 2014 roster will be new faces.
There are still moves to be made as November turns into December, but this is a good time to take stock of where the Dodgers are and how they've made out during these first few transactions.
Winners: Schumaker, Dodgers
Schumaker is a winner because he gets a multi-year deal, which is always good news for a bench player.
For the Dodgers, though, this is good news as well. Schumaker did not have a good year at the plate (.263/.332/.332), and he is an outfielder on a team with Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier still under contract. Assuming health for all of those guys has proven to be a risky proposition, but the Dodgers have to know that they have a logjam in the outfield.
Letting Schumaker go frees up a roster spot for the Dodgers to pursue bullpen help, Masahiro Tanaka or even a different fifth outfielder later in the offseason if nothing else materializes.
Loser: Derrick Robinson
In such a low-cost and low-impact move, none of the main players is likely to be a loser, so we look to Derrick Robinson—the Cincinnati outfielder who was designated for assignment to make room for Schumaker.
Utilityman Nick Punto signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Oakland A's.
While this may seem obvious, the A's are the big winner in this deal. It's a small-money deal for a valuable player, and Oakland gets a backup infielder who can play shortstop if/when Jed Lowrie gets hurt.
Losing Punto might actually hurt, as starting shortstop Hanley Ramirez does not have the greatest track record of staying healthy (he played just 86 games last season), and Punto was an adequate backup. Shortstop is a notoriously difficult position to fill, so the Dodgers will have to go bargain hunting because they don't have the necessary depth in their farm system.
Starting pitcher Dan Haren signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers.
This piece by Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness does an excellent job of summing up why the Dodgers' signing of Haren was such a coup. To sum up, though, the optimism is based on the righty's excellent second half and the fact that $10 million is not a very large price to pay when the return could be so high.
In 76.2 innings after the All-Star break, Haren posted a 3.52 ERA, which was way down from his 5.61 ERA in the first half. More significantly, though, his strikeout percentage jumped nearly four percent from 19.6 percent to 23.0—a number that is actually above his career level of 20.5.
Losers: Everyone Else
If Haren was available for only $10 million, then the rest of baseball missed out on a deal. With the influx of money into the game, $10 million doesn't go as far as it used to, and Haren has an established track record as a good major league pitcher.