We’ve tried to dispel the myths and rumors surrounding Friedman, so what can we expect from him and his team this winter?
1. Sign a starting pitcher. Zach Greinke is off the table, he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks for six-years, $206 million USD. That figure is more than the average annual value of the Clayton Kershaw and David Price deals. A staggering figure for a 32 year-old pitcher. Greinke may have had better statistics last year than Kershaw, but he is not a better pitcher than Kershaw and thus worth more. Greinke signed for more than what was guessed previously, but that is the free market for you where a 32 year-old pitcher gets paid more in average annual value than the planet’s bet, Clayton Kershaw. Though, we were on target for what the Dodgers were willing to offer Greinke.
We have heard Johnny Cueto, Kenta Maeda, and other names as options. At 27, Maeda is two-years younger than Cueto. His innings-eater consistency and low ERA are very intriguing indeed. Ultimately, the Dodgers can sign one or two great starters in Cueto and Maeda, and sign another second tier starter. However, the Dodgers should be weary here as well because Cueto will be asking for $30 million USD per year, but is two-years younger than Greinke. $30 million USD per year is a little less than what Price and Greinke signed. The Dodgers have options and, personally, they showed restraint and that is admirable and good for the Organization’s future. It is also why Walter hired Friedman, a former Bear Stearns Wall Street and private equity executive. He knows how to find value and retain it.
What worries us about the Greinke deal is how the Diamondbacks organization will handle $34 million a year to one player in a small market when the pitcher is 36, 37, and 38, and 39 years-old. The Dodgers can afford to make these mistakes, but it does not mean they should. Comparisons to Greg Maddux are nice, but Greg Maddux was not “Atlanta” Maddux in Los Angeles or San Diego. We, truly, wish Greinke and his family the best.
Do not be fooled and the let the emotion of Greinke leaving for a division rival cloud your best judgement. Signing a 32 year-old pitcher to $34 million USD per year is not a wise decision. The Dodgers were wise for showing restraint where they can now utilize their resources elsewhere. Note that with Greinke departing, the Dodgers now have three draft picks in the first round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, with major pitching talent available;
2. Sign Ben Zobrist (2B/OF depth); leadership and veteran presence, great utility player;
3. Trade outfielders Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier to an American League team (e.g., Designated Hitter Rule), while eating salary, but getting young and controllable pitching in return, preferably a starter and one bullpen arm or arms;
4. Relief pitching help: sign Darren O’Day or trade for Aroldis Chapman (see below);
5. Utilizing the deeply talented farm system of controllable talent to trade for Todd Frazier, 3B for the Cincinnati Reds, possibly as a package deal with Aroldis Chapman;
See here for a Top 30 List of Dodgers Prospects. Possible names to be discussed at the Winter Meetings: Grant Holmes, Cody Bellinger, Austin Barnes, and Scott Schebler. Corey Seager, Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, and Jharel Cotton are essentially off-limits, especially Seager and Urias.
At this point, all we can say, is Happy Shopping, Dodgers! Enjoy the news and social media ride for the next week or so. Friedman will make it exciting like he did at the 2014 Winter Meeting in San Diego.
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