Even with The 2015 Winter Meetings fast approaching, teams have wasted no time in entertaining possible deals in effort to win the last game of the 2016 season. First thing is first, though- what do the Los Angeles Dodgers need?
A new manager: check!
The team has confirmed that former Dodger and World Series champion Dave Roberts will assume the vacant post as manager for at least 3 years.
So, what’s next?
Let’s explore the most viable options the Dodgers have to shore up the pitching staff.
RP DARREN O’DAY
There are a couple of places that Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi are sure to investigate before the winter is over. The most coveted pitcher on the market right now is reliever Darren O’Day.
The 33-year old right hander is coming off an immaculate contract year with the Orioles in which he posted a 1.52 ERA and a .934 WHIP. The year before, he posted a 1.70 ERA and an even better .888 WHIP. To say the least, O’Day is sure to earn quite the deal. Best guess is that he will receive a deal close to the sort of deal that Andrew Miller received from the Yankees last season — about $36M over the next four seasons.
However, there are other teams in the O’Day sweepstakes. The Dodgers will be trying to out bid the Braves, National and Athletics. The Dodgers are said to be in “big time” pursuit of O’Day per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Jon Heyman has also given L.A., Atlanta and Washington the edge over the A’s for obvious financial reasons. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman last reported that the Braves have fallen out of the O’Day race, saying that their interest has “evaporated as his cost has risen.”
You could say that O’Day is the golden goose this winter. Whoever adds him to their bullpen can expect a relief pitcher with the sort of performance expected from most closers.
SP JORDAN ZIMMERMANN
Bob Nightengale of USA Today has reported another pitcher that the Dodgers are willing to drop some simoleons for: Jordan Zimmermann. He is now two years removed from a campaign that earned him fifth place among all Cy Young candidates. Unfortunately, last year was a little more pedestrian than anybody would have liked. Zimmermann went 13-10 last season with a 3.66 ERA and a WHIP of 1.205, but he is capable of much better numbers.
In 2014, Zimmermann went 14-5 with an ERA of 2.66. The highest bidder will be adding a true workhorse to their starting rotation. The only knock on him would be that he already has a lot of miles on his arm. In seven seasons, Zimmermann has already thrown well over 1,000 innings. While it is a testament to how reliable he can be, you can’t help but recognize the arm injuries that have plagued the rest of the league and wonder when Zimmermann’s arm will finally give.
With all of that considered, Zimmermann could serve as a fine contingency plan if Greinke ends up signing elsewhere and the Dodgers fall out of the David Price sweepstakes.
The most interesting trade rumor to pop up this week has to be the rumor involving the Indians and Dodgers as reported by Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. While the Dodgers took a step last year to relieve their surplus of outfielders by trading Matt Kemp, they still have a lot of money (as well as controversy) tied up in the outfield.
The Indians would make a pretty swell trading partner. Their surplus of starting pitching matches the Dodgers surplus in the outfield. The most interesting name on Cleveland’s roster would have be starting pitcher Cody Anderson. The 24-year old from Quincy, California made his way to the majors last season on raw talent, but quickly showed that he was much more polished than originally thought as he flirted with a perfect game in one of his 15 starts last season. Landing him in a trade for one or more of the Dodgers outfielders would give the Dodgers a nice backup should the teenage phenom Julio Urias still need some work in the minors before earning his role in the Dodgers rotation.
Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller has also been mentioned in rumors concerning the Dodgers per reports by ESPN’s Buster Olney. While Miller led the league last season in losses (17), he is still a very young, talented arm that has potential to be a rotation anchor for years to come. In his 33 starts last season, he earned an ERA of 3.03 and was still able to make the NL All-Star roster.
Jon Heyman has also reported that the Dodgers have at least “checked in” on the flamethrowing left hander Aroldis Chapman.
In review, the Dodgers’ upper management seems to have recognized the team’s shortcomings. For the past two seasons, they have watched their bullpen collapse late in games. It would be surprising to see them come out of the Winter Meetings without a viable setup option to bridge the gap from starting pitcher to closer Kenley Jansen. Another thing to look for is whether or not they will again work to free up some of the money and personnel in the outfield.
With Puig’s welcome in L.A. wearing thin, this winter could see the cuban phenom playing for another team. Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier are also owed huge sums of money over the next few seasons. (Ethier is owed $53M over three seasons and Crawford is owed $43M over two.) Could we see another Kemp-like deal where the Dodgers eat a large amount of the remaining contract for some young players in return? It looks like we’ll find out very soon.
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