The Dodgers have done an excellent job this offseason getting the gang back together. Over the weekend, Chase Utley reportedly agreed to a one-year deal to return to the team. Even though he could find more playing time elsewhere, perhaps even a starting position, he chose to come back to LA. Sure, he’s a SoCal native at the end of his career, and maybe he just didn’t feel like starting over again. But most likely he recognized that this team has an excellent chance to win it all this year.
There’s been a theme of that with the returning free agents this offseason. Kenley Jansen was courted very heavily by other teams, but at his wedding, apparently decided it was more important to come back to Los Angeles. Justin Turner knew from the beginning that LA was where he wanted to stay, and stay he did. Both men could’ve easily found employment elsewhere, and maybe for a lot more money. But like Utley, they knew that this team has something special, and also has unfinished business.
This is a team that last year came within two games of making it to the World Series. And still the front office has made improvements to it. The signing of Logan Forsythe solidified the infield. While they signed Forsythe to be the everyday second baseman, he also easily slots in at third or first. He can still be on the field when Turner needs an off day, and Utley would take over at second. This team has any number of configurations for the starters having a day off here or there, still having more than one capable backup.
The one outstanding player from last year’s team that still has not been signed anywhere is Joe Blanton. Last week, the Dodgers reportedly signed Sergio Romo, which could say that they have no intention of re-signing Blanton. But I think they should.
Last season, Blanton was the primary set-up man for closer Kenley Jansen. He had an ERA of 2.48, and 3.33 FIP. He did, however, show fatigue at the end of the season, which is understandable since he had a much higher than expected workload, due to the rash of injuries that ran through the Dodgers’ squad last year. Romo, conversely, didn’t pitch much last season due to his own dealings with injuries. Both pitch very similarly, and are question marks as to what the season will actually bring for them. So why not have both pitchers on the team, for insurance? And if both end up pitching well, then that’s a happy problem to have.
The one hiccup to this may be that Blanton reportedly has wanted a multi year deal. But perhaps he will see what is happening with the Dodgers and realize that this could also be his best chance for a World Series ring, and come back for a lesser deal.
The infield is stacked. With the addition of Franklin Gutierrez, the outfield is also now stacked and ready for some good competition. The bullpen is pretty well stocked, but would also be ready for some great competition with the addition of Blanton. With the way last season played out with all the injuries, the front office was right to make sure that every position has a capable backup ready to take over. This team is set up and ready to take the 2017 season by storm.
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