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Inbox: Does Kemp trade signal shift in strategy?

Beat reporter Ken Gurnick fields Dodgers fans' questions
MLB.com @kengurnick

Why didn't the Dodgers pull off the trade with the Braves BEFORE Stanton went to the Yankees? Wasn't the entire reason they weren't really in on the Stanton sweepstakes because of the luxury tax issue?
-- Todd Andrew @oddtoddious

I think the real reason Dodgers management wasn't all-in on Giancarlo Stanton is that they didn't feel he was worth $295 million - plus accompanying luxury tax -- for 10 years. If Miami had been willing to pick up a huge chunk, the Dodgers might have made a serious run. But eating any of Stanton's salary would have defeated the purpose of Miami's fire sale.

Why didn't the Dodgers pull off the trade with the Braves BEFORE Stanton went to the Yankees? Wasn't the entire reason they weren't really in on the Stanton sweepstakes because of the luxury tax issue?
-- Todd Andrew @oddtoddious

I think the real reason Dodgers management wasn't all-in on Giancarlo Stanton is that they didn't feel he was worth $295 million - plus accompanying luxury tax -- for 10 years. If Miami had been willing to pick up a huge chunk, the Dodgers might have made a serious run. But eating any of Stanton's salary would have defeated the purpose of Miami's fire sale.

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As for the purpose of the trade with Atlanta -- which shifted $21.5 million in payroll from 2018 to 2019 -- the Dodgers now can hold the payroll below the $197 million luxury tax threshold in '18 and reset the penalties.

Do you see the Dodgers being big players in the next couple of free-agent classes? I really thought Stanton now would be more affordable than, say, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and others later?
-- @Ralphdaddy13

Not unless they veer sharply off the course set since Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the club. This is not a front office that wants to be bound to nine-figure contracts, like the one Stanton has, the one Harper will get, or even the one that would have kept Zack Greinke from leaving. If you like wild spending, don't get your hopes up. The Dodgers nearly won the World Series with this strategy, so why change?

Video: Gurnick on Dodgers needing to boost bullpen

What role do you envision Walker Buehler having with the Dodgers this year? How slowly will Julio Urias be brought along post-injury?
-- Michael C. Kelly @trojanmikey

Because of what happened to Urias this year, it will be fascinating to see how management handles Buehler next year. There's no way to prove that Urias' shoulder injury was the result of an unusual strategy to limit his innings by starting him up and backing off and starting him back up again. But he did blow out.

Now, the Dodgers have another top pitching prospect in Buehler who, like Urias, is knocking on the door of the Major Leagues and, like Urias, isn't yet built up with enough foundation Minor League innings to withstand a full Major League season. Management has said Buehler will be a starter in 2018, not a reliever as he was during his September call-up. The hope for Urias is that he returns by June.

Video: Roberts discusses Buehler's role on Dodgers staff

Thoughts on whether Clayton Kershaw will opt out after 2018 and, if so, odds of re-signing with the Dodgers at higher rate?
-- Tom T @ThingsChange

Thoughts on whether he'll be healthy in 2018? It all depends on that. When Kershaw is healthy, there's none better. But he's been on the disabled list three of the past four years. If he stays healthy, and if he opts out, the amount of years is at least as great a club concern, if not greater, than the annual salary.

Kershaw will be 31 in 2019. Will he still be an ace at 35? At 37? And his salary is already $35.5 million. How high do you go?

The Dodgers say they still view Kenta Maeda as a starter, despite his postseason success in relief. Is this set in stone, or could he emerge as the setup guy?
-- Craig Turner @DCTurner49

Maybe both. That was the indication from Andrew Friedman at the Winter Meetings. On the current depth chart, Maeda is needed in the starting rotation. But his postseason success transitioning to relief, and the fact that increased fastball velocity made him a setup weapon, makes that a legitimate possibility if the Dodgers again find themselves with a surplus of starters and in need of a bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

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