To be expected, much has been made of the potential trades and trading partners this offseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers are no different and many might say are at the forefront of roster changes because of two equally important factors. First, with the highest payroll and one of the top farm systems in Major League Baseball, the Dodgers have not been to or won a World Series since 1988. The pressure is palpable. Second, the Dodgers have three players that they may lose to other teams in free agency. Specifically, starting pitcher Rich Hill, closer Kenley Jansen, and third baseman Justin Turner. The Dodgers will be forced to make moves to fill roster spots.
Previously, we discussed the possibility of acquiring third baseman Evan Longoria, starting pitcher Chris Archer, and closer Zach Britton via trades with the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles along with signing free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Since that time, other trade rumors have arisen with Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale, and more. Each of these trades have their pluses and minuses in terms of return, effect, acceptance, and the possibility of occurring.
For the reasons above, the offseason is always an exciting time when fans, writers, and front offices dream of building a winning roster. What is important to us in determining the future is looking to the past. What the Dodgers front office has done in the past will help us determine what might happen in the future.
- We know that to this point, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has never signed a player to a contract larger than $100 million USD.
Unfortunately, this means that the likelihood of the Dodgers signing the next $100+ million dollar ballplayer is less than certain. Maybe the Dodgers have just not met the player they feel comfortable paying that much. Then again, the Dodgers let the Arizona Diamondbacks outspend them for starting pitcher Zach Greinke. The free agency class this year many experts have called less than stellar, so the real test of the Dodgers spending habits will be in 2018 when several big name free agents hit the free market, including Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and many others.
- We know that to this point, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has never traded away a top five prospect to obtain other players.
Friedman has kept to his smaller market Tampa Bay ways in obtaining and retaining the best talent. He has refused to give up on the top ranked prospects in favor of development and signing free agents that complement the roster as opposed to remaking it. Again, the likelihood of the Dodgers trading away the likes of the organization’s future first baseman in Cody Bellinger or other top ranked prospects is unlikely and that is a good thing. It is an investment in the future to be and stay successful as opposed to making moves that feel good short term, but are extremely costly long term.
- We know that to this point, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman would rather trade prospects acquired through other trades than to deal prospects developed through the Dodgers minor league system.
Since Friedman took charge of the Dodgers, he has done two things consistently well. He has acquired top to middle-level talent from other teams in exchange for lower-level talent in the Dodgers system and then traded away or kept that talent down the road for more talent or Major League ready players. The Frankie Montas, Jose Peraza, and Andrew Heaney trades are all examples of this strategy. These trades tend to include multiple trading partners as well since the Dodgers have been unwilling to trade away their best prospects preferring other teams to do so. Very smart. Truth be told, we will not know Friedman’s true value until we have more data on his decision-making where the Dodgers 2013-2016 playoff rosters were mostly the makings of former general manager and current Dodgers front office executive, Ned Colletti.
What does all of this mean for the Dodgers offseason? The Dodgers will look to trade some of their Major League ready players for a mixture of top-level talent and Major League-ready talent. The Carlos Ruiz and Howie Kendrick trades are such examples. Friedman and company will keep, at the very least, their top five prospects, choosing rather to trade away lower-level talent for Major League outfielders, starting pitching, and relievers. This also means the Dodgers might look beyond signing Jansen and Turner in favor of acquiring controllable players from other teams. It also means that we can watch with excitement as Friedman’s move-making has a tendency to precede much larger ones. Now sit back and enjoy the real-life Hollywood show.