While plenty of focus has been placed on the changes in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office and whether or not manager Don Mattingly will return next season, pending roster decisions have faded to the background.
However, during Andrew Friedman’s introductory press conference Friday, the new president of baseball operations was peppered with questions on Mattingly, the bullpen, outfield, and more. The Dodgers played the season with five outfielders and are on track to do so again in 2015, only that number will increase to six if Joc Pederson is included.
Given that it took manager Don Mattingly more than half the season to find a starting combination that worked, and Andre Ethier wasn’t particularly pleased, the outfield logjam has largely been deemed more of a nuisance than benefit.
However, that isn’t the case for Friedman. When asked if changes — perhaps a trade — would come in the off-season to reduce the size of the outfield corps, he dismissed the notion of the extra bodies being an issue.
“I’ve been asked that question as if it’s a problem,” Friedman said. “If it’s a problem, it’s a tremendous problem to have. We’ve got a lot of really talented players. Specifically in the outfield. We’ll have to work through and figure out what puts us in the best position to have the most success next year and creating a roster that complements one another.”
Recent rumors have the Dodgers shopping Yasiel Puig, though Friedman, nor team president and CEO, Stan Kasten, addressed them Friday. Despite the rumors, Puig’s talent and cost-controlled contract makes him an unlikely candidate to be traded and the remaining outfielders similarly appear untradable, though for a different reason.
Ethier, Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp are all over 30-years-old and are owed a significant amount of money on the remaining years of their respective contracts. Kemp’s play to round out 2014 likely makes him the most attractive trade chip in the outfield not named Puig.
However, trading him would remove a big chunk of production from the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup that may be without Hanley Ramirez in 2015. Friedman may not yet view the outfield as a problem or at least be willing to admit to as much publicly, but a third season of what the Dodgers have already endured with the group of players may be too much to ask for.
Dodgers Introduce Andrew Friedman As President Of Baseball Operations