With only one bit of business still left to conduct (the Masahiro Tanaka negotiations), the Los Angeles Dodgers’ offseason is just about over. They’ve shored up the back of their rotation, re-signed their big free agents and set themselves for the future.
In fact, by all accounts, they’ve had a very successful winter. Bringing back Juan Uribe filled the one big potential hole, and extending Clayton Kershaw took care of the one big cloud hanging over the front office.
So, given that we’re just under a month away from the beginning of spring training, let’s take a look at the winners and losers of the Dodgers' offseason.
Anyone who gets a guaranteed $215 million is a winner in my book, and Kershaw and the Dodgers agreed to a seven-year extension worth just that much. While this is a good deal for the Dodgers, it’s a fantastic one for Kershaw.
Even though there were rumors that he might get a deal worth $300 million, Kershaw has to be satisfied with this deal. As Matt Harvey demonstrated this year, no pitcher is immune to the seemingly random, devastating arm injury. And as Roy Halladay demonstrated over the past two years, no pitcher is immune to the nearly inevitable, career-ending succession of arm injuries.
Given those facts, then, Kershaw has to be a winner. After all, he’s getting $215 million!
Alexander Guerrero himself didn’t actually have a great winter: He got hurt during winter league, which necessarily limited his ability to play. However, the decisions of the Dodgers front office made him a winner.
Despite early rumblings from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that the Dodgers might be interested in bringing back Mark Ellis—last year’s second baseman—they ultimately did not bring in a challenger for Guerrero. Instead, he will go into spring training with the second base job as his to lose.
At the end of the 2012 season, Uribe was likely on his way out of baseball. He probably wouldn’t have gotten a major league deal had his contract with the Dodgers expired a year earlier than it did.
But he redeemed himself in 2013—with the best season of his career, according to FanGraphs—and he was rewarded with a two-year, $15 million contract that seemed implausible just 12 months ago.
If it weren’t enough that Josh Beckett is fighting back from a career-threatening injury, he is also facing an uphill battle in terms of staying in the rotation for the whole season. The Dodgers brought in Dan Haren, who will slot in behind Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu in the rotation.
Haren isn’t all of Beckett’s competition, though: The Dodgers remain in the mix for Tanaka, Chad Billingsley will return at some point of the season and they still have a deep stable of potential fifth starters in the farm system (including Stephen Fife, Matt Magill and prospect Zach Lee).
So while Beckett has a long track record of success, he isn’t guaranteed 30 starts by any means. In fact, given the competition and Beckett’s injury, it would probably be a shock if he got to 20.
The fact that Joc Pederson is a loser is emblematic of the continued outfield logjam. General manager Ned Colletti did not trade one of his four starting-caliber outfielders—Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier—so now, not only is there no space for all of the big leaguers, Pederson is blocked on all levels.
The problem here is that he is likely almost ready for the majors: He played all of last season at Double-A while he was just 21 years old, and he posted an .878 OPS. So while he has done all he can, the front office has not given him a path to playing time.