LOS ANGELES -- As the Dodgers' front office continues to look at ways to improve the team, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team has remained in contact with free agents Chase Utley and Joe Blanton, each of whom played important roles in 2016."There are a lot of
LOS ANGELES -- As the Dodgers' front office continues to look at ways to improve the team, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team has remained in contact with free agents Chase Utley and Joe Blanton, each of whom played important roles in 2016.
"There are a lot of good players still on the market, so we're continuing to assess things and continue conversations that we've had," Friedman said Saturday at Dodgers FanFest at Dodger Stadium, which drew a record attendance of 28,967. "We feel really good about the team that we have in place. The roster fits together. That being said, we'll continue to be opportunistic and continue the conversations that we've had."
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The Dodgers filled their need for a starting second baseman by acquiring John Forsythe in a trade with the Rays on Monday, so bringing back Utley would leave the veteran in a reserve role.
"We like Chase and spent a lot of time talking about him this offseason," Friedman said. "[We] still feel like there's a lot of life left in the bat and what he can do defensively. I've never been around a player that has impacted the group more off the field than Chase Utley has, and that's something that we value significantly. We've maintained conversations with him throughout the offseason. We give him a tremendous amount of respect. We'll continue to be open-minded. We love him and feel strongly about what he's done for this organization."
Blanton resurrected his career as a reliever in '16, posting a 2.48 ERA with 80 strikeouts over 80 innings in his first season with the Dodgers.
"There are a number of really good relievers on the market and Joe is obviously not lost on us," Friedman said. "He was a part of our success last year and we have a tremendous amount of respect for him and that continues."
Friedman said the Dodgers would like to continue improving their relief options.
"I don't think you ever get to a place with the bullpen where you feel like you're done," he added. "It's something that every year, heading into the season, it scares me. It's obviously a very tricky part of roster construction and we really like the guys that we have. We feel like we have a good amount of depth."
Of course, Friedman acknowledged there is less wiggle room now that the Dodgers have already spent $192 million in free agency, by far the most in the Majors. With those funds, the Dodgers retained closer Kenley Jansen ($80 million), third baseman Justin Turner ($64 million) and starter Rich Hill ($48 million).
"I think obviously we committed significant resources," Friedman said. "Just how you allocate, it obviously has trickle-down effects."
• Friedman said Jose Miguel Fernandez, the Cuban infielder who signed with the Dodgers earlier this month, would probably see time at second base and third in Spring Training. However, the Dodgers are not sure when Fernandez will be able to report, as he still needs a visa to enter the country.
• Left-handed reliever Adam Liberatore said he's 100 percent recovered from October elbow surgery and he will throw off a mound next week.
• Catcher Yasmani Grandal said he's recovered from the shoulder issues that plagued him in '16 and he will report to Spring Training 10 pounds lighter than normal after changing his diet in the offseason to get rid of meat in favor of plant-based protein.
• Outfielder Scott Van Slyke said his right wrist is 100 percent recovered from surgery to repair a ligament tear and clean up scar tissue.
**Austin Laymance** is a reporter for MLB.com.