Friedman weighs in on Dodgers' hot topics
President of baseball ops talks Lux injury, closer role, potential Urías extension
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman admitted the team didn’t have many roster decisions to make on the position-player side coming into this spring.
The Dodgers had a good idea what their team was going to look like come Opening Day on March 30. But with Gavin Lux now likely out for the entire 2023 season after suffering a torn right ACL on Monday, those plans have changed drastically.
Friedman sat down with reporters on Friday to address where the team stands now. Here are three things that stood out from the 15-minute conversation.
Finding a replacement for Lux isn’t going to be easy given the time of year. Friedman acknowledged that finding improvements during the spring is always challenging because most teams already have an idea of what their Opening Day roster will look like. Trading an impact player is not something teams usually do at this time of the year.
One way to improve the roster, however, could be by finding a player that adds depth in the infield or outfield. In the free-agent market, Jurickson Profar is the most established player still out there, but he might not be a logical fit. The trade market will have some options toward the end of the spring.
“We’ll definitely spend a lot more time talking about the various profiles that can fit,” Friedman said. “Spring Training typically isn’t the best time for those types of moves. But we’ll have conversations and see what is possible and what is not.”
Which “profile” the Dodgers pursue over the next few weeks will be something worth watching. With Lux injured, the initial plan is out the door, so now the Dodgers are left searching for answers. Miguel Rojas, who was acquired to be a depth piece, is now the team’s everyday shortstop. Chris Taylor, who was going to be used as an outfielder, will now get more responsibility in the infield.
Do the Dodgers need another outfielder because of the roster shuffling? Do they need to add a left-handed bat to replace Lux’s production? Those are just some of the questions they face. They have a few weeks to answer them.
No closer, no problem?
Unless they make a late move this spring, it appears the Dodgers are ready to go into a season without a designated closer for the first time in more than a decade.
The Dodgers enjoyed the production of Kenley Jansen, the organization’s all-time saves leader, for a very long time, and they went through a roller-coaster experience with Craig Kimbrel last season.
This season, Evan Phillips is the team’s best reliever, but the Dodgers are in no rush to take him out of the “fireman” role they value even more than a closer. Yency Almonte, Daniel Hudson, Brusdar Graterol and Alex Vesia could all close out games, but the team is in no rush to name a closer.
“I don’t think it’s a necessity,” Friedman said. “I think the most important question to answer is whether you think our bullpen is going to be really good, and we do. Then it’s about the mindset of each one of those guys, keeping them in the best headspace to go out and have a lot of success.”
The Dodgers have a handful of pending free agents, but none are more important than left-hander Julio Urías, who grew into the team’s ace while leading the National League with a 2.16 ERA in 2022.
When asked about his contract situation earlier this spring, Urías acknowledged that it was “impossible to hide” from the fact that he’s entering a contract season. On the other hand, Urías said he’s focusing on the upcoming World Baseball Classic and will let his agent, Scott Boras, handle any negotiations.
Friedman chimed in on Friday and predictably said he wasn’t going to get into any specifics about contract negotiations, which is the norm for the organization. He did, however, share some optimism about keeping Urías in Los Angeles, even if he tests free agency in the offseason.
“We think Julio loves being a Dodger and I know we love having Julio as a Dodger,” Friedman said. “I think any time you have that dynamic where the team really wants the player and the player really likes the team, I think it always increases the odds, but he’s put himself in a great position to go out and do really well for himself and his family.”