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Recapping the Winter Meetings for the Dodgers

Dec 11, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts talks to the media during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Clark-USA TODAY Sports

Below, we recap this year’s winter meeting, and what the takeaways were for the Dodgers.

Heavy Rumors, Light Activity, & Future Moves

This year’s winter meetings came and went with a whimper, not a bang. After so much build-up to the event, and rumors swirling around about possible signings and trades, it was a fairly quite week in terms of actual moves. Nothing major really went down, not only for the Dodgers, but for the league as a whole.

There were certainly plenty of rumors surrounding the Dodgers. They were talking to the Cincinnati Reds about an undisclosed deal that likely included Yasiel Puig. They were in talks with the Pittsburg Pirates about Francisco Cervelli, and had contact with the St. Louis Cardinals about Jose Martinez. JT Realmuto was still a trade target of theirs. Each rumors had Dodgers fans on edge, just waiting for the news to break.

But yeah… nothing happened.

Despite the inactivity, it doesn’t mean that no moves will be made sometime soon. There’s a lot of back-and-forth and numbers crunching going on behind the scenes that takes time to finalize. It’s very possible that the framework for future deals could have been worked out at these winter meetings. Andrew Friedman himself said there was now “more clarity” on which deals he’s optimistic about going forward.

The Dodgers are still in the market for a catcher, and possibly a front-line starter, all while trying to deal from their outfield surplus. Names like JT Realmuto and Corey Kluber will continue to be tossed around as possible targets. Additionally, there’s a couple of minor free agents still available like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, who have been linked to the Dodgers. They could sign at any time.

Deals still seem likely and free agent signing are sure to happen. But fans are going to have to wait a little while longer it seems.

Joe Kelly is a Dodger… yes, that Joe Kelly

The one move the Dodgers did make this past week was signing relief pitcher Joe Kelly to a 3-year, $25mil deal. As you probably remember, that’s the same Joe Kelly that cracked Hanley Ramirez’s rib with a fastball during Game 1 of the 2013 NLCS, and put a damper on the Dodgers chances that series.

Never ones to easily forget, Dodgers fans will now have to bury the hatchet and mend any fractured relationship they may have with Kelly. He’ll likely be the primary set-up man for Kenley Jansen for the foreseeable future.

Dodgers Nation contributor Blake Williams did a piece on Kelly after the signing (read more about that here) which really breaks down his strengths and weaknesses.

Kelly is a hard thrower who regularly reaches the high 90s with his fastball, and occasionally triple digits. He didn’t have a great year last season, but stepped it up in the playoffs, which likely increased his value this off-season. In 2018, he posted a 4.39 ERA, 1.355 WHIP, 3.57 FIP and 9.3 K/9. He also had a 4.4 BB/9.

By comparison, there wasn’t a Dodgers reliever that had as high of an ERA or WHIP (min. 30 inns pitched.) His K/9 would have put him 5th among Dodgers relievers.

Despite the sub-par numbers, Kelly does provide a boost to a Dodgers bullpen that was suspect at times last season. Andrew Friedman hasn’t been known to go out and spend a lot of money on set-up guys, and instead, has preferred to try to find bargains or develop guys for that role (i.e Joe Blanton and Brandon Morrow.) They obviously saw something in Kelly that they liked, and believed he was worth the 3-year contract.

Dodgers Lose Two in Rule 5 Draft

The Dodgers didn’t draft a player in this year’s Rule 5 draft but they did lose a couple. Catcher Connor Joe and infielder Drew Jackson were taken in the draft by the Reds and the Phillies.

Joe was a 1st round pick by the Pirates in 2014 and was acquired by the Dodgers in 2017. Last year between AA and AAA, Joe put up very good offensive numbers, hitting .299/.408/.527 with a .935 OPS. There’s some questions about where he fits in defensively, and recently he’s tried to convert over to catcher, a position he would most certainly be blocked at in the Dodgers organization. At 26 years old, he’ll be added to the Reds 40-man roster and should get a look sometime in 2019.

Jackson, who spent last season in AA, was the Dodgers #19 ranked prospect, and was acquired from the Seattle Mariners two years ago. He’s a lifetime .269/.360/.399 hitter is the minors. He plays all around the infield, and has played some outfield too.

Personally, I’m glad the Dodgers protected the guys they did from the Rule 5. They obviously protected one of their prized prospect in Keibert Ruiz, and also pitchers Yadier Alvarez and Josh Sborz. Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty were the other two players, and they have the potential to contribute soon.

Overall, it was a quite week in Las Vegas in terms of trades and signings. However, the rest of the off-season still figures to heat up soon.

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-fans-we-need-to-make-amends-with-joe-kelly-cp1085/2018/12/16/”]Dodgers Fans: It’s time for us to make amends with Joe Kelly[/button]

Written by Brian Robitaille

Originally from Southern California, and currently stationed in Northern Virginia, Brian is a devoted Dodgers fan, and has been since he was a kid. He's an Active Duty member of the U.S Air Force, and has been serving for the last 16 years. While he loves all things sports related, and supports all his teams (Lakers, Steelers, L.A Kings, & USC) his true passion is the Dodgers, and loves writing about the boys in blue.

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