Setting Odds for the Dodgers to Land Each of Their Expected Offseason Targets

Nick Ostiller@@NickOstillerContributor IIOctober 28, 2014

Setting Odds for the Dodgers to Land Each of Their Expected Offseason Targets

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    Nick Ut/Associated Press

    While the San Francisco Giants have advanced to yet another World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers brass has been forced to watch its rivals from the couch while pondering the team's next offseason moves in free agency.

    The Dodgers' high-priced roster is relatively inflexible, with several players signed through next season, including everyone involved in the crowded outfield situation.

    When looking around the diamond, positions of concern include shortstop, catcher, the back end of the starting rotation and the bullpen.

    But one of the biggest free-agent additions will not be wearing a uniform. The Dodgers are in search of a new general manager after Ned Colletti was reassigned to a senior advisor role upon Andrew Friedman's arrival from Tampa Bay.

    The new president of baseball operations has an important decision to make, and whomever he selects will in turn be tasked with deciding whether or not to import free agents or reach into the farm as a way to plug holes for 2015.

    The following slides take a look at five potential additions to the Dodgers, and the likelihood that the team brings them to Los Angeles.

Josh Byrnes, General Manager

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Before the Dodgers can address on-field issues, they must first delegate someone to help make those personnel-related decisions when it comes to free agents.

    The leading candidate for the open general manager post in Los Angeles is Josh Byrnes. The 44-year-old knows his way around the NL West, formerly serving as GM for the Arizona Diamondbacks and—most recently—the San Diego Padres.

    Byrnes was relieved of his duties in San Diego midway through the 2014 season, but he never had the type of payroll waiting for him in Los Angeles if the Dodgers do decide to bring him aboard.

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently provided some insight into the team's thinking:

    Byrnes is viewed as a strong possibility to get the coveted job, as sources familiar with the situation say his experience is viewed as a plus for a storied, big-market team with heavy media coverage and add that his philosophy aligns with that of Friedman. The pair are also said to be fairly close, though a prior relationship had been less than obvious.

    According to Heyman, since both Friedman and Byrnes possess innovative baseball minds, the duo would potentially run the team together—similar to the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer arrangement with the Chicago Cubs.

    Probability that Byrnes joins the Dodgers: 85 percent

Ben Zobrist, Utility Infielder

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    For the past few years, the Dodgers have always made sure to sign a utility player with infield versatility—Aaron Miles (2011), Adam Kennedy (2012), Skip Schumaker (2013) and Justin Turner (2014).

    Turner's contract was a one-year deal (although he is under team control through 2016), so the team may be in search of another glue guy once again. One of the best utility men in the league is Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Zobrist has a club option worth $7.5 million for 2015 as part of a four-year deal originally offered to him back in 2010 by none other than Andrew Friedman.

    It remains to be seen whether the Rays will pick up Zobrist's option for a second straight season. With Friedman and manager Joe Maddon out of town, Tampa Bay may look to create salary relief and allow Zobrist to walk.

    If that's the case, expect the Friedman-led Dodgers to make a strong push for the man who played six positions and slashed .272/.354/.395 in 2014.

    Probability that the Dodgers sign Zobrist: 60 percent

Luke Gregerson, Relief Pitcher

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    There are several free-agent relief pitchers whom the Dodgers would welcome as an upgrade over the majority of those involved in last year's shoddy bullpen corps.

    The one pitcher who makes the most sense for Los Angeles is Luke Gregerson, a right-hander who pitched for the Oakland A's this past season.

    Gregerson was a key contributor to a top-three bullpen in terms of opponent batting average during the regular season. His personal 2.12 ERA in 2014 was even lower than his fine career ERA of 2.88.

    The former San Diego Padre has experience in the NL West and could help steady a Dodgers bullpen that had the second-highest ERA among playoff teams.

    Probability that the Dodgers sign Gregerson: 50 percent

Russell Martin, Catcher

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Could Russell Martin be headed for a reunion with the Dodgers this offseason?

    A former Los Angeles draft pick, Martin turned in a career year for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014. As if his .290 average, 11 home runs and 67 RBI weren't impressive enough, Martin's 5.5 wins above replacement (WAR) were the most among all projected free-agent position players this past season.

    Pittsburgh's general manager Neal Huntington recently stated his team's intention to retain Martin, although doing so may be easier said than done for a small-market team like the Pirates, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

    The Dodgers could be interested in Martin because of A.J. Ellis' poor performance at the plate this year. The popular Los Angeles backstop struggled his way to a .191/.323/.254 slash, but he hit very well in the postseason.

    Ellis is under the Dodgers' control for two more seasons. He was paid $3.55 million in 2014 and is due to receive a significant raise in arbitration.

    The Dodgers may decide to part ways with him rather than give him the bump in salary, something that irks Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw.

    "I don't know what I'm going to do if he's not back," Kershaw told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times after the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs.

    Whether or not Friedman will listen to his pitcher's plea is anyone's guess, but it's safe to say Ellis is on thin ice with Martin about to hit the open market.

    Probability that the Dodgers sign Martin: 40 percent

Jon Lester, Starting Pitcher

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Jon Lester will be the most sought-after left-handed pitcher on the free-agent market this winter, and the Dodgers will surely be in the mix.

    Los Angeles was discussed as a possible destination for the battle-tested left-hander at the trade deadline in July, but the Red Sox ultimately shipped him to Oakland in a surprising turn of events.

    Boston has maintained optimism that it can re-sign Lester this offseason, but the deep-pocketed Dodgers may have something to say about that reunion.

    After Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the strength of the Dodgers rotation falls off considerably. Dan Haren has yet to decide if he will exercise his $10 million player option for next season, and Josh Beckett recently announced his retirement.

    The Dodgers could view Lester as the perfect arm to add to their rotation, and they certainly hold the financial edge over most other teams in the impending sweepstakes.

    Probability that the Dodgers sign Lester: 70 percent

Hanley Ramirez, Shortstop

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The biggest question facing the Dodgers this offseason is centered around one of their own: shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

    The 30-year-old infielder will become an unrestricted free agent upon conclusion of the World Series, yet the Dodgers are hesitant to bring him back to Los Angeles.

    The majority of Ramirez's value rests in his bat, but the Dodgers were probably looking for more than the 13 home runs he hit this past season.

    Ramirez also missed 34 games with nagging injuries and is widely considered a liability in the field. Manager Don Mattingly often removed him for a defensive replacement late in games.

    Los Angeles signed Cuban defectors Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena to lucrative contracts within the calendar year, which further diminishes the chances that the Dodgers re-sign Ramirez.

    Both Guerrero and Arruebarrena are natural shortstops who have little experience playing anywhere else. And on a Dodgers team with most positions set in stone, there's literally no room for them to play anywhere else.

    At this point, it's almost a guarantee that Los Angeles lets Ramirez walk, especially considering that he is reportedly commanding a contract worth north of $100 million, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

    Probability that the Dodgers re-sign Ramirez: 5 percent

    All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise linked/noted.


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