Besides 'pen, Dodgers need to fill coaching staff

Castro takes job with Tijuana Toros in Mexican League

December 12th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There's a second vacancy on the Dodgers' coaching staff, with quality-assurance coach Juan Castro becoming director of operations of the Tijuana Toros in the Mexican League after bullpen coach Josh Bard became bench coach of the Yankees.

Add those to the previous offseason departures of vice president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos to be Atlanta's general manager; director of baseball operations Alex Tamin to the same role with Atlanta; director of player development Gabe Kapler as Philadelphia's manager; assistant director of player development Jeremy Zoll as Minnesota's director of Minor League operations; special assignment scout Aaron Sele to the same role with Miami; assistant hitting coach Tim Hyers named Boston's hitting coach; Triple-A pitching coach Matt Herges to be the Giants' bullpen coach; and the dismissals of bullpen catcher Rob Flippo and Triple-A hitting coach Shawn Wooten.

Meanwhile, a slow offseason of roster moves continued Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said he suspects the resolution of the Shohei Ohtani and situations will spur increased activity in the next two weeks. The Dodgers, who are exercising fiscal restraint to minimize luxury-tax exposure, are more likely to make a trade than sign a free agent, Zaidi said.

Zaidi repeated earlier comments by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts that the primary focus is on restocking the bullpen, where Zaidi indicated the club is more likely to look for a reclamation project -- as it did with Joe Blanton in 2016 and in 2017 -- than target an expensive acquisition.

"The bullpen is probably the place where being diligent, you can create value there," Zaidi said. "Whether it's looking at guys that have started earlier in their career and you think their stuff can tick up in the 'pen, or looking at pitch usage or mix or sequencing. We've made a lot of efforts there, especially as Andrew alluded to with the moves we made last year and what our financial commitments would be this year. That being a place where we have some potential openings, we're going back to the well and hopefully find some other guys for 2018."

Zaidi said management does not feel compelled to acquire a left-handed-hitting second baseman to replace , suggesting that and could join in picking up Utley's at-bats.

Zaidi reiterated that shortstop does not need elbow surgery. He said Minor League catchers Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz are "on the big league radar" for some point next season.

Zaidi also weighed in on reports that , whacked in Games 3 and 7 of the World Series, was tipping pitches. Zaidi said the club was aware of that possibility and addressed it after Game 3.

"The way the game is now, whenever somebody has a bad start, that's the first thing people go to," he said. "We had people trying to figure out everything, but it certainly was on the radar."

Darvish is believed to be seeking a contract far in excess of what the Dodgers want to spend, but Zaidi said the club is "continuing to keep an active dialogue." Zaidi believes Darvish's postseason successes against Arizona and Chicago were more indicative of his ability than the World Series struggles.

"I try to take the playoffs in their entirety," Zaidi said. "The further away you get from the playoffs, I think people will look at the entirety and not just the way it ended, but how he pitched in the first two rounds and [then] feel like he can do that for other teams as well."