Of course, the ultimate aspiration for a baseball boss is to bring home an MLB Championship to his organization. But, building a competitive player roster is the first step of the process, and despite a few early signs from the Dodgers possibly staying quiet over the winter, Andrew Friedman and his troops have lately been busy on the phones in their quests for personnel upgrades. The question lingering now is, how many more moves will the management crew make before players begin reporting to spring camp?
After the Dodgers surprised all of baseball with the deal involving Matt Kemp, many followers of the club, including myself, presumed the team was finished with its winter transactions, especially considering that the payroll finally landed below the luxury tax threshold. However, Friedman and his team were still able to add several potentially valuable pieces to the squad—all without taking on any extra dollars.
In the front office’s most recent move, righty pitching prospect Trevor Oaks was shipped out along with journeyman reliever Luis Avilan and infielding prospect Erick Mejia in order to land a reliable lefty reliever in Scott Alexander and a versatile utility man in Jake Peter. The initial reactions from many fans were disagreeable, yet after the dust settled, there’s no question that the deal was masterfully orchestrated. In the end, the club found a way to upgrade its big league roster without spending a dime, but perhaps more importantly, both players who were acquired by the Dodgers have plenty of years of team control on their respective contracts.
So what’s the next move? Whether he’s either dealt or released over the coming weeks, something’s bound to happen with Kemp. But is there something bigger on the horizon, like the prospective acquisition of a frontline starting pitcher, another quality bullpen piece, or even an established outfielder capable of boosting the middle of the Los Angeles lineup? Even though it’s clear that Friedman and his crew do not desire to spend, there are other ways to upgrade, especially if they can get at least a little bit of a return for Kemp. Furthermore, the Dodgers’ farm system is as plentiful as ever. Theoretically, if the right package of prospects is offered to an opposing club, the potential returns are endless, without having to layout a ton of cash.
I, for one, believe that there will be a few new starting pitchers arriving—not specifically for the big league squad, but rather to boost the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City and enhance the pitching depth on the fringe, similar to the roles that Justin Masterson, Wilmer Font and Fabio Castillo played last year. At the present moment, besides Walker Buehler and Brock Stewart headlining the OKC rotation, there’s really not much to write home about. In the same breath, though, doors may finally open for a few other up-and-coming prospects, conceivably giving opportunities to arms like Josh Sborz, Andrew Sopko, Dennis Santana, Yadier Alvarez or Mitchell White.
Regardless, as polished and complete as this Dodgers squad looks right now, just imagine the layout of the team with the addition of a player or two with All-Star talent. And while the next big splash by Friedman and Company may not arrive until the trade deadlines this summer, the preliminary groundwork for such a blockbuster could already be in place.
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