How much the Los Angeles Dodgers were after Jon Lester remains a mystery, but at the very least it’s believed there was interest and his signing with the Chicago Cubs was part of the Dodgers’ quiet start at the Winter Meetings.
However, by the time day three rolled around, no team as active as Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi’s group. It began with the Dodgers reportedly trading for Jimmy Rollins and continued into the afternoon and night with Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas being sent to the Miami Marlins. One of the prospects received from the Marlins was then turned into Howie Kendrick in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
That was all completed Dec. 10 and was accompanied by a midnight press conference in which Friedman intimated more moves were to follow. By the wee hours of Wednesday morning, a trade was in place to send Matt Kemp and Tim Federowicz to the San Diego Padres.
The Kemp trade was the first to cut into the surplus of outfielders the Dodgers have and it landed manager Don Mattingly’s sanity on ESPN’s Buster Olney’s list of winners at the Winter Meetings:
Winner: Don Mattingly’s sanity
As mentioned here yesterday, now he can get back to managing games rather than personalities, now that the Dodgers’ new front office began the process of making over the clubhouse culture. (With the exception of Yasiel Puig, who seems destined to drive his teammates nuts for the foreseeable future.)
With Kemp bound for San Diego, Olney also listed the expectations for what lies ahead as a winner:
Winner: Anticipation for Matt Kemp here in San Diego
The Padres are paying him $75 million over the next five seasons, with the Dodgers eating the other $32 million, and there is a discernible buzz in this town over the move. San Diego has not had a masher like this in a while. The Padres made a splash, write Kirk Kenney and Dennis Lin.
Meanwhile Haren, who said his desire was to only pitch in Southern California, made the group of losers:
Loser: Dan Haren
He achieved a vesting option for $10 million, seemingly an opportunity to pitch another season near his home and family in southern California, and although Haren indicated he might retire if he was traded, the Dodgers dealt him anyway — to the other side of the country no less, in Miami.
Marlins president Mike Hill reiterated Thursday that the team is giving Haren time and space to think about his decision, but Miami might actually have some incentive to let Haren retire. The Dodgers sent along $10 million in the deal to offset Haren’s salary, but according to the terms of the deal, if Haren retires, the Marlins get to keep the money to spend as they see fit. That’s like a parent giving a kid $20 to buy a book — and they decide to go for candy or a movie instead.
The Marlins have a surplus of starters, and it will be interesting to see what kind of assurances Miami will go in defining what Haren’s role will be, because the Marlins certainly have a greater need elsewhere, for a first baseman who can hit left-handed.
As for the Dodgers as a whole, Jayson Stark said they owned the week of meetings:
The Dodgers won the fourth-most games in baseball this year (94). So it’s hard to say they’re better. But it’s harder not to appreciate the creativity and vision of what they’ve done. As intriguing as their stealth pursuit of Lester was, it was even more intriguing to watch them strike on multiple fronts, within hours of knowing a Lester signing wasn’t happening. Even by making trades with two teams (the Angels and Padres) they’d made a combined three deals with in the previous 38 years.
Love the new DP combination of Kendrick and Rollins. Love the upgraded up-the-middle defense of Kendrick, Rollins and Joc Pederson. Love how the ground-ball, funky-contact approach of Brandon McCarthy fits that defensive upgrade. Love how they cut payroll, added to their prospect depth and injected life and leadership into their clubhouse so decisively. Just don’t love their lineup without Kemp and Hanley Ramirez. But there’s more activity coming, in the probable addition of a free-agent starter (James Shields?). And maybe much more. So no one won the week like the Dodgers.
Of the moves the Dodgers are still expected to complete is sign free agent right-hander Brandon McCarthy and based on Friedman’s comments, add a second starting pitcher. While there is one less outfielder in the group, it’s presumed the Dodgers would still like to move Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier.