Los Angeles Dodgers: Grading the Offseason Moves so Far
It's been a relatively quiet but expensive offseason for the Los Angels Dodgers compared to years past. Last winter, they signed Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke to big contracts. This year, it's been...Jamey Wright?
Though the jury is still out on Masahiro Tanaka and extensions for Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers seem to be pretty much set for 2014. The team could definitely bolster the bench a bit and look for a little more starting pitching depth, but the moves it's made so far have shored up the bullpen and filled two holes in the starting infield.
How do the additions and re-signings the Dodgers have made so far grade out? Will they help the team earn a berth in the NLCS or get it to its first World Series since 1988? Or will they have little to no effect on the season in 2014?
The Dodgers brought back Brian Wilson to set up Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell to set up Wilson, and they signed Jamey Wright and Chris Perez for middle relief.
The former two pitchers cost a bit more than market value, but they were invaluable contributors to a strong group in 2013. Wright pitched for the Dodgers in 2012 and fared well, though mostly in a long relief role. And Perez is a former All-Star closer who has had his share of troubles but possesses a wicked right-handed repertoire.
Add this group to Jansen, Paco Rodriguez and Chris Withrow (yes, I know I'm "forgetting" Brandon League), and they're poised for another strong season in 2014.
As a whole, these four moves grade out slightly above average. Bringing back Wilson and Howell was absolutely necessary, though I think both were overpays. Wright and Perez are risks, but they have extremely high reward potential. I just believe the team could have done better than both.
For this slide only, I'll break out individual grades to go with an overall grade for the bullpen moves:
Brian Wilson: A-
J.P. Howell: A-
Jamey Wright: B-
Chris Perez: C
The Dodgers survived quite a few other teams who were interested in Uribe and ended up agreeing to bring back the third baseman for two years at $15 million.
Uribe was reportedly looking for a slightly longer deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but he can't complain about earning a $500,000 yearly increase in salary from his famously bad three-year deal with the Dodgers in 2011. In 2013, he finally put up a good, healthy season on both sides of the ball and earned this slight extension.
One of the team's best prospects, Corey Seager, is lighting it up in the minor leagues and is likely the third baseman of the future. But for now, the defense, clutch hitting and chemistry that Uribe brings to the Dodgers' clubhouse will be invaluable for another two years. This was a smart move by general manager Ned Colletti.
Alex Castellanos and Mike Baxter
The Dodgers have made a flurry of strange, minor moves that will likely have no impact on the 2013 season. But this one in particular was noteworthy because Alex Castellanos has been a well-liked prospect in Los Angeles for the last couple years.
He never made a huge impact in his big league stints, but he did show flashes of potential.
The Dodgers designated Castellanos for assignment after the season to sign outfielder Mike Baxter, and then they traded him to the Boston Red Sox for minor leaguer Jeremy Hazelbaker.
It was an unimportant move, as it doesn't bolster the major league bench much, and it essentially swapped one older, average minor league outfielder for another. But I consider Castellanos a well-known prospect, and I think the Dodgers lost in the move.
Many scouts scoffed at the Dodgers spending big money on an unknown young Cuban player whose raw talent might never live up to anything.
Stop me if you've heard this story before.
The same things were said about Yasiel Puig, who has arguably already surpassed his more famous countryman, Yoenis Cespedes, in value.
There's no way to tell if Guerrero is the next Puig, as he's been hampered by injuries during fall and winter leagues. But he does have the tools to be an above-average offensive player for the Dodgers.
This grading might have to stand as incomplete until we get a good look at Guerrero in spring training. For now, based on scouting reports, statistics in Cuba and the Dodgers' ridiculously impressive track record with international free-agent signings, we'll give them a winning grade.
After much hubbub surrounding Don Mattingly and Ned Colletti's awkward press conference following the playoffs (not to mention incessant rumors about the manager's job security during early-season struggles in 2013), the Dodgers caved and extended their skipper through the 2016 season.
Despite many fans' objections to Mattingly's in-game decisions, this was a brilliant move by the Dodgers. It's rare to come across a manager who can handle both the fierce Los Angeles media and unite a clubhouse full of overpaid superstar players.
The Dodgers arguably had the best team chemistry in baseball last year, and that's because Mattingly absorbed every criticism and deflected it away from his players, ultimately leading the team to a historic second-half surge and a runaway win of the National League West.
Mattingly is the man who is best suited to return the Dodgers to their first World Series since 1988. I applaud the team's ownership for extending his contract.
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