Dodgers 2014 Off-Season: Kershaw, Dodger Stadium Lead Dodger Trends
Spring training begins in less than a month and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finalizing their roster for the 2014 season. As the off-season continues, we take a look at what was trending up and down with the team this week:
Ending speculation that he was willing to test the free agent waters next off-season, Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw signed a seven-year, $215 million deal that keeps him in Los Angeles for the significant future. The reigning National League Cy Young winner filed for salary arbitration but avoided it by agreeing to the new contract. His deal becomes the richest deal for a pitcher ever and has the highest annual value of any contract.
Kershaw has won two of the past three Cy Young awards and has led the league in ERA the past three seasons. He can now settle in and head into the season without the cloud of free agency hanging over his head. The left-hander will be looking to lead the Dodgers to their first World Series title since 1988.
Slugging shortstop Hanley Ramirez was seen on Instagram working out with NFL players in preparation for the season. He sparked the Dodgers’ second half comeback last season, while hitting .345 with 20 home runs and 57 RBI in 86 games. Ramirez was working out with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery of the Chicago Bears and former NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
Last season, Ramirez missed the beginning of the season after getting injured in the World Baseball Classic. He looks to be in prime condition for the upcoming season and is still in talks for a contract extension with the Dodgers.
Dodger Stadium has been busy this off-season with the NHL Stadium Series set to be played on January 25 and several renovations being done for 2014. The game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks has created a buzz around Chavez Ravine as it will be the host of the first outdoor hockey game west of the Mississippi River. A hockey rink, concert stage and a sand volleyball court have all been added for the event.
Renovations are also underway to add a new seating area overlooking the bullpens along with new restaurants and team stores. These renovations continue to update the look of baseball’s third-oldest stadium and provide the Dodgers with a world-class ballpark.
Right-hander Josh Beckett has seen his spot in the rotation become questioned with general manager’s Ned Colletti’s claim that the team is interested in a starting pitcher. Colletti has been in contact with Masahiro Tanaka’s agent and it has some reported interest in right-hander Bronson Arroyo. Beckett was slotted in the fifth spot of the rotation but may be out of a job depending on how the next week unfolds.
The right-hander struggled in eight starts last season before undergoing surgery to remove a rib to release pressure on a nerve. He’s slated to be ready for Spring Training and may be auditioning for other teams.
Uncertainty has begun in the Dodger infield as questions arise about Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero and his ability to take over the everyday role at second base. He was unable to get enough reps this winter after suffering an injury in the Dominican winter league and was just cleared to enter the United States due to visa issues. A weak free agent market and departures of key infielders from last year have now put the Dodgers in a bit of a rut.
Colletti mentioned Dee Gordon and Miguel Rojas as other possibilities at second but neither have proven anything at the big league level. The team is also in contact with Michael Young to bring him back for another season after spending the last month with the Dodgers. He was reportedly considering retirement but has offers from four teams and could decide to come back. Either way, the Dodgers will need something to happen before the season begins.
ICYMI: Here’s where things stand in the Dodgers pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka