Hot Stove Fires Up But Dodgers Relatively Quiet


The Winter Meetings are still to come next week, but there was a flurry of trades and free agent signings on Tuesday throughout Major League baseball. The Dodgers didn’t make any trades yet this offseason, and they have been modestly quiet so far this autumn. Other than signing Alexander Guerrero in October and Dan Haren in November, the Dodgers have chosen to let go more players than they have retained or signed.

Amidst the big trades like Prince Fielder to Texas and today’s Yankees signing of Jacoby Ellsbury, the Dodgers have been rumored to be shopping their outfielders and on the hunt for pitching. On Monday, the Dodgers chose to non-tender Ronald Belisario making the right-hander a free agent and opening up a spot in the Dodgers bullpen. On Wednesday there was word that the Dodgers and Brian Wilson were close to an agreement on a new contract, yet there was still no official word on that. After negotiating with the Tigers, it seems as if The Beard wants to remain in L.A. on a new multi-year deal.

Some notable trades and signing around baseball went down on Tuesday. The Yankees love to spend money. This offseason they have already signed angst ridden catcher Brian McCann to a five-year deal worth $85 million that includes a vesting option for 2019. Today they lured Jacoby Ellsbury away from the world champion Red Sox with a staggering seven-year, $153-million contract. Negotiations with Robinson Cano have stalled due to the gap  between Cano’s $260-million asking price and the Yankees $160 million deal. Rumors surrounding Seattle’s interest in Cano also swirled around on Tuesday.

The Dodgers and Brian Wilson are reportedly close to working out a deal. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

So much for the curb on spending the Yankees originally had planned. The Yanks also had their name tied with free agents Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo during the day. The pin stripes have also given Hiroki Kuroda an offer, and the former Dodger is still mulling it over like he usually does this time of year. The Yankees are on a huge shopping spree while the Dodgers are instead sitting back and plotting their moves behind the scene. There’s no indication that the Dodgers will make any big moves this offseason, and there’s really no reason that they should have to.

The Dodgers have repeatedly squashed any rumors surrounding any interest in Robinson Cano, and they are smart not to jump in and overpay for the second baseman. As long as he is healthy, Alexander Guerrero is slated to start second base for the Dodgers in 2014. The posting issues regarding Masahiro Tanaka have delayed any bidding on the hot commodity of a pitcher. Let the Yankees continue to spend so that the Dodgers can bid successfully for Tanaka. While some may want the Dodgers to trade away some of the few top prospects their minor league possesses for David Wright, I would rather the Dodgers retain those prospects and bid on Tanaka.

The Dodgers still need a third baseman, some relief pitching, and bench players. The Dodgers tendered contracts to Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, and A.J. Ellis before the deadline on Monday, but their contract information wasn’t immediately available. The main target for the Dodgers right now is relief pitching. Signing Brian Wilson will give the Dodgers a sensational duo along with Kenley Jansen for late innings. With the only lefty Paco Rodriguez in the bullpen as of right now, the Dodgers will need to sign a left-hander like J.P. Howell. Scott Elbert will not be ready to return until mid-2014 after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Crazy trades and ridiculously inflated free agent signings are par for the course in the offseason now.

Teams are calling about Matt Kemp. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Players are looking for significant multi-year contracts, and there are teams who are willing to hand those out. The Dodgers are being smart and not making any drastic moves yet, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility. If the right deal comes along, the Dodgers might trade one of their outfielders before the winter is over. Teams are interested especially in Matt Kemp who apparently is still in an ankle boot. It is unclear what the Dodgers could possibly get in return for Kemp or how much of his salary they would have to cover in a deal, but they are listening to all offers and very well should be.

The Dodgers should sign Wilson, Uribe, Howell, and possibly another reliever. Someone like John Axford could shore up the bullpen and replace the departed right-hander Belisario. As for the bench, the Dodgers will likely pick up a gritty veteran to be their utility guy. After all, they are less a Punto and a Schumaker.

How about Matt Kemp and Zach Lee for David Price? Would you make that deal? Nothing big might happen for the Dodgers this offseason, and I’m okay with that. Just imagine a full year with Yasiel Puig. It’s going to be a fun season, and barring any big trades this team is already poised for success.