Friedman discusses Dodgers' Deadline moves
President of baseball ops 'as aggressive as we felt made sense' in trades
LOS ANGELES -- After unleashing the franchise's financial firepower again, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Thursday's trades improved the Dodgers for this year and beyond. And until Friday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline, he's still talking to other clubs about pitching.
"I don't want to talk about the Trade Deadline in the past tense," Friedman said on Thursday night.
The primary focus of the two deals Friedman completed brought in replacements for the pitching staff -- starting pitchers Mat Latos and Alex Wood, late-inning reliever Jim Johnson and lefty reliever Luis Avilan.
Friedman acquired speedy middle-infield prospect Jose Peraza from the Braves in the deal that cost the Dodgers signing Hector Olivera because, among other factors, Friedman said he was less confident Olivera could play second base, while third is now deeper with Justin Turner, Alberto Callaspo and Alex Guerrero.
With season-ending injuries to Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, Friedman said management was already looking to add two starters -- and the urgency heightened this past week when Brett Anderson tweaked his Achilles (but didn't miss a start). Plus, Clayton Kershaw is currently dealing with what is said to be minor hip irritation, although he had a similar problem in 2012 and hips can be problematic for pitchers.
The Dodgers did not, however, acquire one of the three big-name starting pitchers who changed clubs -- David Price, Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto -- to team with Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top of the rotation. Friedman said he spoke to the Tigers about Price, but he wouldn't be specific about any trade discussions. He added that he understands the frustration of Dodgers fans seeking their first title since 1988.
"I get that," Friedman said. "I have tremendous respect for the passion fans have for the team. We all share the same goal, to win the World Series. Everything we've done since [my hiring in] mid-October is with that goal in mind. But it's also not about winning just in 2015, it's about creating something that can be sustained for many years and hopefully have a number of championship banners up. We're perfectly aligned in that and everything we're doing is working towards that."
Friedman had indicated recently that he would not trade top prospects Corey Seager or Julio Urias. He preserved the top prospects in the system -- "A really good outcome," he said -- as well as not losing anybody off the current 25-man roster. But he also had to settle for second-line starting pitching as the marquee names went elsewhere.
"We were as aggressive as we felt made sense for us, and others were as aggressive as it made sense for them," Friedman said. "Different teams value different players differently."
Friedman explained that his club's ability to pick up the salaries of Johnson, Latos and Michael Morse made the trades possible.
"Money factors in, just like players do," Friedman said. "Everything is negotiated. There are times we've given up players, times we've taken on contracts. We have that ability to do that and/or supplement that with players, and that increases the likelihood of getting a deal done. Having that added flexibility increases your chances of [making a deal]."
Friedman said Latos, who is expected to start Sunday, has come back from a "minor" knee issue "incredibly strong. His stuff is back, missing a lot of bats, he commands zone well, eats up a lot of innings. He's going to be a free agent at the end of the year and is highly motivated to pitch extremely well -- we feel he'll fit in really well and help us win lot of games down the stretch."
Friedman said the 24-year-old Wood will step into the rotation with three pitches that already play very effectively against Major League hitters, "but we feel there's potentially another gear in there." Friedman said that the Dodgers like Wood's aptitude and work ethic.
The experienced Johnson will handle some "high-leveraged innings" and take some of the pressure off young relievers like Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia, who have been carrying a heavy load.
Mike Bolsinger will be bumped out of the starting rotation, despite a 2.83 ERA in 16 starts. Friedman said he didn't know if Bolsinger would remain in Los Angeles as a long reliever or be optioned to pitch regularly at Triple-A.
"He's done everything we've asked, and more," Friedman said. "We felt this was what we needed to do. We expect Bols to continue to make an impact down the stretch."
Friedman added that he wasn't sure if Brandon Beachy would accept a Minor League assignment.