Friedman fully focused on repeat ring for LA

December 12th, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- While the Dodgers made a smattering of minor announcements on Friday, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman also discussed the highest of his priorities: repeating as World Series champions.

The 32-year World Series drought the Dodgers ended in October is nothing compared to what a 2021 title would mean. A repeat championship never has happened in franchise history. But Friedman has tapped into the champion of all repeat champions to provide the team theme for next season.

“There’s a great John Wooden quote on it, ‘Winning takes talent, but repeating takes character,’” said Friedman, drawing from the legendary UCLA coach of 10 NCAA men’s basketball titles, seven of them consecutively.

“And we feel really good about not only the talent we have on this roster, but also the character. And we feel like we’ll be well positioned to do all we can to repeat in ’21.”

Friedman said he’s being typically patient while free agents such as , , and others shop the market, presumably looking for deals longer and richer than the Dodgers are ready to offer.

If Turner leaves, the Dodgers will need a right-handed-hitting infielder. Even if he returns, he’s 36 with arthritic legs. A replacement will be needed soon, probably sooner than prospect will be ready.

Treinen’s return would bolster a bullpen that doesn’t know what it will get from . But Treinen understandably would prefer to parlay his comeback season into a multiyear deal.

Despite anticipation of a COVID-related slow market, Friedman said signings and trades have been “robust.”

Friedman wouldn’t confirm the names of targeted players or characterize specific negotiations, but he projected confidence the roster will be ready to win when next season begins.

“As we sit here in the middle of December, we feel really good about the core group that we have in place,” Friedman said. “We have a couple of areas we’d like to address before Spring Training and have had a lot of conversations going with free agents, as well as with the 29 other teams. We feel like there’s a good enough amount of supply out there of what we’re looking for that we’ll end up in a good spot.

“Obviously, we couldn’t be any happier with how the 2020 season ended, but now it’s incumbent upon us to turn the page and focus on doing all we can to repeat. Looking back over time in baseball and seeing how difficult that has been is a challenge all of us are focused on.”

• The Dodgers turned back the clock to restock their depth by re-signing veteran free-agent right-handers Brandon Morrow, Brock Stewart and Jimmy Nelson to Minor League deals with Major League camp invitations, along with left-hander James Pazos and infielder Carlos Asuaje.

Morrow, 36, was a 2017 reclamation project coming off shoulder surgery who emerged in midseason as a bullpen piece vital enough to pitch in all seven World Series games that postseason. He was impressive enough (6-0, 2.06 ERA) to earn a multiyear contract from the Cubs, but he suffered back, elbow and shoulder injuries and hasn’t pitched since early in 2018.

Stewart, 29, was 2-3 with a 5.46 ERA for the Dodgers over pasts of four seasons and was taken off waivers by the Blue Jays July 31, 2019. He went 4-0 with an 8.31 for Toronto in 2019 and was taken in last winter’s Rule 5 Draft by the Cubs, who released him on May 28 this year without using him in any Major League games.

Nelson, 31, was signed a year ago but missed the 2020 season with back surgery and was bought out of a 2021 option for $500,000. He has pitched 22 innings since 2017.

• The Dodgers announced the promotion of Clayton McCullough to first-base coach to replace George Lombard, who left to become the bench coach of the Detroit Tigers.

McCullough, 40, is in his seventh season with the organization. He previously was Minor League field coordinator. He helped oversee the Dodgers’ operations at the alternate training site on the USC campus this year.

The rest of manager Dave Roberts’ coaching staff returns intact: bench coach Bob Geren, hitting coach Brant Brown, third-base coach Dino Ebel, hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc, assistant hitting coach Aaron Bates, pitching coach Mark Prior, bullpen coach Josh Bard, assistant pitching coach Connor McGuiness and game planning and communications coach Danny Lehmann.

• The Dodgers sent Minor League left-handed pitcher Leo Crawford to Milwaukee to complete last week’s trade for right-hander . Crawford, a 23-year-old Nicaraguan, is 33-26 with 3.22 ERA in five Minor League seasons.