Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dodgers enter Winter Meetings looking to get younger, fill some gaps

Mark Saxon over at wrote his latest blog about the Dodgers' intentions as they head to Lake Buena Vista, Florida for the Winter Meetings.  In a nutshell, don't expect a huge splash like they had last year in signing Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

What we should expect to see is a focus on adding a third baseman (which could mean re-signing Juan Uribe), and a focus on restoring bench depth and relievers.

It's not exactly the most exciting news in the world, but keep in mind the Dodgers have already done some work in November.  They signed Alexander Guerrero with the hope that he can anchor second base the next four years, or even play some short and shift Hanley Ramirez to third.  Dan Haren was chosen for one year over Ricky Nolasco for four, which was a smart move.  They also brought back Brian Wilson to continue one of the best late inning combinations with Kenley Jansen, a fantastic move.

As I pointed out during the year, the timing for Uribe's resurgence could not have been any better for him.  The free agent market for third basemen is basically zilch.  Uribe went from hitting .191 with 2 homers and 17 RBIs in 2012 to .278/12/50 this past year.  His OBP shot up from .258 to .331, and his games played from 66 to 132.  There's always a risk that he could regress again, but a similar contract to Wilson's (one year, with an option for another) would make sense.

On the relief side, there's a bunch of guys with closing experience like Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney, and Kevin Gregg (who was actually released by the Dodgers last Spring Training).  Those guys will probably require longer contracts than one or two years the Dodgers will offer, so I'd be surprised if any of those guys sign.

For middle relief, names like Mitchell Boggs, Jesse Crain, and Kyle Farnsworth pop up from the right side, and J.P. Howell and Matt Thornton from the left side.  The Dodgers would like to bring back Howell, but again, he wants a three-year deal, and the Dodgers appear to have learned their lesson from the horrible Matt Guerrier and Brandon League deals, and don't want to go above to.  Good for them.

None of these names will blow you away, but then again, the Dodgers have their core in place, especially if Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez get extended before next season.  Right now it's all about plugging in holes, so stay tuned for small signings here and there.

What's about the only news that could blow you away?  If Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier get traded.  Buster Olney takes a look at that possibility (Insider only).

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