Earlier this week, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman assigned the blame on himself for the Dodgers slow start. Front office personnel often say that the best moves are the ones that you don’t make and that just what the Dodgers did. They stood pat throughout the offseason, failing to make any major roster changes. We will look back at the major transaction that the Dodgers did not make this offseason and see how they have paid off thus far.
Not Trading For Giancarlo Stanton
Giancarlo Stanton really wanted to become a Dodger. Even when the Miami Marlins agreed to a deals to trade him to the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, Stanton vetoed both moves, hoping the Dodgers could find a home for him in Los Angeles.
After hitting 59 home runs with the Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton made it clear that he wanted to play for a contending team. Growing up in Los Angeles, he prefered the Dodgers. The problem was that the Dodgers did not want to take on his 13 year, $325 million contract.
Essentially, the Dodgers wanted to unload their bad contracts, such as Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Adrian Gonzalez, to Miami. Although the Marlins did not have a high asking price for the slugging outfielder, could not come to an agreement on a deal.
Giancarlo eventually accepted a trade to the Yankees and the rest is history. After a slow start with his new club, the reigning NL MVP has picked up steam. Since the start of May, he is batting .310 with five home runs and 11 RBI in just 12 games. While he is second in the American League with 55 strikeouts, the slugger has hit 10 roundtrippers all year, helping the Yankees to a first place 28-12 record.
A reminder that Giancarlo Stanton finished with 59 HR last year.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 15, 2018
Not Signing an Elite Starting Pitcher
The top two pitchers in the free agent class last season were Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. Both righties are on the wrong with a history of injury problems.
Following Yu Darvish’s horrendous showing in the World Series for the Dodgers, it did not appear likely that he would return to Los Angeles. He wound up signing a six-year, $126 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.
Dodgers fans remember Jake Arrieta from when he threw a no-hitter at Chavez Ravine in 2015. He also beat out Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke for the Cy Young Award that year. The Dodgers had some interest in the righty, but Arrieta ended up signing with the Philadelphia Phillies on a three-year, $75 million deal.
Despite the massive dollar figures for both pitchers, they have performed completely differently this season. Through seven starts, Darvish has an 0-3 record with a 5.56 ERA.
Through the same number of starts, Jake Arrieta is 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA.
Staying Frugal with the Bullpen
Last season, the Dodgers took a low risk, high reward deal, signing Brandon Morrow to a short term minor league deal. Then, during the trade deadline, they were rumored to possible acquire the Baltimore Orioles all-star closer Zach Britton. Instead of making that deal, the Dodgers acquired lefties Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani in low risk deals.
Thanks to the success of last year’s deals, the Dodgers continued this trend of low risk-high reward deals to bolster their bullpen. They let Morrow and Watson leave during free agency and did not pursue the top free agent relievers. Instead, they made moves to acquire Scott Alexander, J.T. Chargois, Daniel Hudson, Tom Koehler and Pat Venditte. None of these moves have panned out yet, with each pitcher either injured or with an ERA over 4.50.
Keeping Matt Kemp
When the Dodgers made the trade to bring Matt Kemp back to Los Angeles, no one expected that he would actually play a game for the boys in blue. In the exchange of bad contracts they sent Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Adrian Gonzalez and Charlie Culberson to the Atlanta Braves.
The Dodgers expected to ship Kemp and his contract elsewhere to lower their payroll. Kemp lost 40 pounds over the off season and has proved to be worth every penny for the Dodgers. He is batting .318 with five home runs and is showing more athleticism than he did when the Dodgers first let him go.
Keeping Yasmani Grandal
Since Austin Barnes started every game in the World Series in 2017, most people expected Yasmani Grandal’s tenure as a Dodger to come to an end. In large part because of the slow market and lack of interest in catchers this offseason, the Dodgers held on to Grandal.
Although he has struggled of late, Grandal has still been productive batting .278 with seven home runs this season.
After a magical 2017 season, Andrew Friedman and Co. stood pat this past offseason. No one could have predicted their bad start, so it makes sense that the Dodgers kept their pieces from last year.
Obviously acquiring Stanton, along with an elite pitcher or two would have helped, those deals would have been financial burdens in the long term. The Dodgers were able to remain under the $197 million tax threshold which should help them retain Clayton Kershaw and sign an elite free agent next year.
While the offense is struggling, unforeseen injuries are a major reason for that, and Andrew Friedman is not at fault for that. The one place where the front office failed is with the bullpen. They made deals that make the Dodgers too reliant on unknown and unproven commodities out of the bullpen. While it is still early, the team’s reliever have already lost 11 games this year. Since the Dodgers are only eight games out of first place, there is still time for the front office to redeem itself and add relievers to lead them to the promised land.
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