While the moves were nice, the Dodgers headed to the winter meetings with a list of things needed to be done. Reports surfaced that they could be matching up with the Tampa Bay Rays about a trade for David Price, but ultimately were seen as favorites to land Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
Tanaka was finally posted around Christmas and the Dodgers were going to be players for his services. Reports surfaced his wife, a budding pop-star in Japan, wanted her husband to play on the west coast. Meanwhile, among all the Tanaka talk, the Dodgers also reached deals with relievers Chris Perez and Jamey Wright, solidying a strong bullpen for the 2014 season.
As negotiations for Tanaka continued, the Dodgers were talking to his agent, Casey Close, about another one of his clients, Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw and the Dodgers agreed to a record-breaking seven-year, $215 million contract that makes him the highest paid pitcher in baseball history. Fears of the 25-year-old ace hitting the free agent market finally subsided and the Dodgers rotation was solidified for at least the next five seasons.
The Tanaka sweepstakes continued to take place and unsurprisingly, the New York Yankees outbid everyone else for his services, agreeing to a seven-year, $155 million contract. Management went on record as to say they weren’t completely sold on what the 25-year-old pitcher had to offer and wouldn’t have been any better than a number three starter in the rotation.
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti continued to look for pitching, but also added infield depth. Justin Turner and Chone Figgins signed minor league deals to compete for a spot on the roster and there were reports of interest in starter Bronson Arroyo. The soon-to-be 37-year-old pitcher was reportedly seeking a three-year deal, but ultimately signed for two years with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Today, the Dodgers are closing in on a deal with free agent Paul Maholm, but terms of the deal are unknown at the moment.
In looking at the Dodgers off-season, Colletti managed to not shell out long-term deals to aging veterans with an improving farm system producing viable options in the coming years. They brought back key pieces in Wilson, Uribe and Howell while adding rotational depth with Haren and the impending signing of Maholm. Getting Kershaw locked up before he hit free agency was also a huge plus as they’ll next extension they’ll focus on is Hanley Ramirez’s, which could come during the season.
The Dodgers will enter the 2014 season as the favorites to win the NL West, NL pennant and World Series for the first time in a long time. Here’s to a great next eight months!
ICYMI: The Dodgers and Justin Turner agreed to a minor league deal