Friedman, Roberts to return in 2020

Mark Prior likely to be named new pitching coach

October 14th, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and field manager Dave Roberts will return in 2020, Friedman announced on Monday.

Friedman said he expects his contract extension to be finalized in the next couple of days. He added that he was surprised when asked if Roberts would return. Roberts signed a contract extension through 2022 after the ‘18 season.

“By and large, the body of work is very strong,” Friedman said of Roberts, who guided the club to its seventh consecutive National League West Division title and a franchise-record 106 wins, but has been the target of criticism for his pitching decisions in last week’s Game 5 elimination to the Nationals in the NL Division Series.

“You look back over the last four years and compare what Dave has accomplished and compare that resume to others out there. We feel like, from our standpoint, when the season ends as abruptly as it does -- one of the more painful losses that I can remember -- the focus is on, how do we win 11 games in October? And in our minds, Dave is absolutely a part of doing that and an additive part.”

The Dodgers have won the NL West in all four seasons of Roberts' tenure, and they won back-to-back NL pennants in 2017 and '18.

In his annual end-of-season press conference, Friedman also said:

• Longtime Major League pitching coach Rick Honeycutt would “transition” to a special assistant role and likely be replaced by current bullpen coach Mark Prior. Honeycutt underwent back surgery in Spring Training, and he was hampered by his condition throughout the season.

• Friedman’s “sense” is that , coming off the worst season of his career, would be the team’s closer in 2020.

“We’ll see how things play out,” Friedman said. “He feels good. And there were decent chunks of time this year when everything synced up and his stuff was objectively better, and other times he struggled more, and I think it’s about his delivery. He’s a very large human and things can get out of whack a little bit. The focus will be to lock that down and repeat more consistently. I will absolutely bet on him. I’m excited of what he’s capable of next year. His role, I don’t exactly know right now.”

• Friedman said he believes the Dodgers have a championship bullpen.

“I feel like the one-through-eight and the different looks and the length and the way different guys could match up against different types of hitters, I do feel like it was a bullpen that was capable of winning a World Series,” he said.

• Friedman said the front office needs to be open to changing the complexion of the roster, even though he’s convinced it is anchored by a talented core of players.

• Reacting to suggestions the front office can predetermine the moves made during a game, Friedman insisted that “you can’t possibly script out a baseball game.”

• Friedman defended setting up the NLDS rotation so could pitch relief in Game 5, and he disagreed with the narrative that it expected too much from Kershaw at this stage of his career.

“I think Kershaw is not exactly the same pitcher he was three years ago, but I still think he was a really good pitcher this year,” he said. “It was more about the comfort of being able to warm up and come into a game. It’s up to us to evaluate and line up talent, and I can’t remember feeling better about any one player than Kershaw in terms of how much he cares, how much he prepares and how much he pours into it. That’s all we can ask for from a player. Then it’s up to us, and I feel like we had a room full of people that put everything they had into winning 11 games in October.”

• He was non-committal on the hiring of a general manager. The Dodgers went without one this year after Farhan Zaidi left the position to become president of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants.

will again return to the starting rotation for 2020 after finishing ‘19 as one of the most reliable right-handers in the bullpen.

“There will definitely be the possibility for Kenta to earn a starting role for longer, and potentially into October,” Friedman said. “I think a lot of that gets to, you know, just commanding the baseball a little bit better against left-handed hitters, just improving a little bit against left-handed hitters. And we had that conversation about what that could mean, and continue to have that focus be that we'd love for him to continue to take his game to another level, which we think he's capable of, and take the ball every fifth day and pitch for us in October.”

• Friedman insists he went into the playoffs believing the Dodgers were talented enough to win the World Series. He was asked what he would tell fans who are frustrated with the Dodgers’ inability to win a World Series.

“I think everybody was extremely upset,” Friedman said. “I can’t remember being around a group that was as committed to win a World Series. It was a singular focus, as good a group as I’ve ever been around. Obviously, it wasn’t enough. We’re not playing right now. We share the disappointment. It was heart-wrenching in a lot of ways. We have to focus on things that are constructive. They will help us in our quest to deliver a World Championship to Los Angeles. A big part of [the] reason is our fans.”