In just four and a half extremely active months with a new regime leading the front office, the Los Angeles Dodgers consistently opted against spending big on marquee free agents.
With varying degrees of seriousness, the Dodgers were linked to Jon Lester, Andrew Miller, Yoan Moncada, Max Scherzer and James Shields; all of whom all players whom signed elsewhere.
What the Dodgers have done, aside from opting for high-risk, high-reward signings, is pay players to essentially go away.
It began with a seven-player trade completed with the Miami Marlins. The Dodgers sent Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas to South Florida, along with $10 million to cover the final year of Haren’s salary — $10 million that was to be paid whether or not Haren reported to his new club. After initial apprehension, he did.
The following week, Tim Federowicz Matt Kemp were sent to the San Diego Padres, joined eventually by a total of $32 million ($18 million in 2015) to cover Kemp’s remaining salary.
One day after that trade was finalized, the spending spree continued as Brian Wilson, with $9.5 million in salary owed this season, was released.
While the Dodgers have spent money in unconventional means to — in theory — upgrade the roster, their job is not yet finished.
By trading Kemp to the Padres, Yasiel Puig will move back to right field — where general manager Farhan Zaidi believes he can win a Gold Glove. Based on manager Don Mattingly’s tendency from last season, Carl Crawford figures to be the regular starter in left field so long as he’s able to remain healthy.
That leaves center field vacant, though it’s seemingly been cleared for highly touted rookie Joc Pederson. While the Dodgers have maintained Pederson is not guaranteed to take the reins, he’s the heavy favorite among a group that includes Andre Ethier, Chris Heisey and perhaps to a lesser extent, Scott Van Slyke.
During the offseason, Ethier expressed a desire to remain in Los Angeles. He reiterated those intentions after meeting with Dodgers brass that included president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, Zaidi and Mattingly on Monday.
However, Ethier also voiced his displeasure over the notion that he’s competing to start in center field; citing his age as the reason he shouldn’t man the position on a regular basis. Mattingly believes Ethier can be plugged in at first base, however with Adrian Gonzalez entrenched at the position, there’s isn’t much playing time to go around.
Ethier believes in himself, as he should. You wouldn’t want a player on the roster with self-doubt.
CONTINUE READING: Solving The Andre Ethier Dilemma