Adding pitching a priority for Friedman
Dodgers president of baseball operations says lineup is mostly set, except for second base
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Monday that the club's offseason focus is pitching, but citing club policy, he would not discuss negotiations to retain free-agent starting pitcher Zack Greinke.
"We'll leave it up to people's imagination," he said.
Friedman, in Florida for the General Managers Meetings, said the managerial interview process is ongoing, but he wouldn't discuss that further, either.
Offensively, he said right fielder Yasiel Puig, center fielder Joc Pederson and catcher Yasmani Grandal are "three big wild cards" after disappointing second halves. But he added that he is "incredibly optimistic" they will have bounce-back seasons, giving the Dodgers "a chance to have one of the more dynamic offenses in the league," while implying that Puig is not on the trade block.
In fact, he said Puig is working out to lose weight after "he has continued to get bigger and stronger every year, which may not be the optimal size to play 150-plus games. That's a focus and he's getting after it this winter."
Friedman said Puig is also working on changing bad hitting mechanics developed while playing through, and compensating for, a painful blister on the palm of his left hand.
Friedman said Pederson also is working on breaking bad batting habits, and in both cases the players are only being asked to return to what they were, not to become what they're not.
Grandal, meanwhile, is recovering from surgery on his arthritic left shoulder, which the club believes contributed to his second-half offensive tailspin. Friedman was non-committal about bringing back catcher A.J. Ellis, but he added that Ellis was "a large part of our success last year on and off the field, and that's certainly not lost on us."
Otherwise, Friedman said his lineup is "pretty locked in" except for second base. That sounded as if Friedman expects Howie Kendrick to reject a one-year qualifying offer for $15.8 million.
Friedman said he had no "hard-and-fast rules" regarding needing a frontline pitcher (like Greinke) to pair with Clayton Kershaw or being averse to signing a long-term deal after recent comments from general manager Farhan Zaidi that the Dodgers intend to get "younger" and, presumably, cheaper.
In addition to Kendrick, the Dodgers extended qualifying offers to Greinke (which certainly will be turned down) and Brett Anderson (which could be). That leaves Kershaw and Alex Wood as the only two starting pitchers the Dodgers can count on going into the 2016 season. Hyun-Jin Ryu has had no setbacks from shoulder surgery, but is "a big wild card," Friedman said. Brandon McCarthy is out until midseason after Tommy John surgery.
"Fortunately there are a lot of pitchers on the free-agent market and in trade conversations we've already had," Friedman said, adding that he will be "opportunistic in the bullpen."
He said the Royals' offensive style of putting balls in play demonstrated that "there are different ways" to build a championship team. He said Dodgers hitters as a unit need to do a better job of situational hitting, and he's looking for a manager that will adapt to the player personnel, not the other way around.
"For the most part, our core is in place and we're excited about that core," he said.