LAS VEGAS -- A Dodgers trade for Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber was a tantalizing rumor Monday at the Winter Meetings, but Andrew Friedman kept to his policy of not discussing specific trade or free-agent targets.The team's president of baseball operations reiterated he seeks a catcher to pair with Austin Barnes
LAS VEGAS -- A Dodgers trade for Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber was a tantalizing rumor Monday at the Winter Meetings, but Andrew Friedman kept to his policy of not discussing specific trade or free-agent targets.
The team's president of baseball operations reiterated he seeks a catcher to pair with Austin Barnes and bullpen reinforcements. Various reports have the Dodgers interested in trading for Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto or signing right-handed reliever Player Page for David Robertson.
But there is the belief that the Dodgers feel a difference maker is needed to get over the World Series hump. Free agent Bryce Harper would qualify if his market collapses, but a trade for two-time Cy Young winner Kluber would be much cheaper and less complicated. The Dodgers have a surplus of outfielders and starting pitchers from which to deal and the Indians reportedly want blocked top prospectAlex Verdugo in a Kluber package.
"We feel really good about our talent level and feel like we're in position where we have some depth to entertain different conversations and possibly reallocate that depth in different ways that provide opportunity," said Friedman.
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That said, he also tried to moderate expectations when asked about the need to make a major move.
"The pressure we feel is to make a splash in October, much more so than December," he said.
Friedman delivered upbeat updates on Kenley Jansen, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Alex Wood.
He said Jansen's 5 1/2-hour heart procedure last month went "as well as we could have hoped," and the closer should be ready for Spring Training with no limitations.
Seager, said Friedman, has "switched gears" from rehabbing elbow and hip operations to training for baseball activities this week at Dodger Stadium. But it's too soon to know how close to 100 percent Seager will be for Spring Training or Opening Day, especially after two major operations. He is running, throwing and just began swinging a bat.
"We're encouraged with where he's at, but we'll know more as we get into January and he ramps up his baseball skills," Friedman said.
Bellinger also is working out at Dodger Stadium with Dodgers hitting coaches after an inconsistent 2018 followed his Rookie of the Year season in 2017.
"He is very hungry," said Friedman.
Wood, presumably one of the expendable starting pitchers, has "reintroduced" his deceptive windup. Wood was an All-Star in 2017 with the windup, but abandoned it in 2018. Friedman said Wood "got out of whack" mechanically, but praised his competitiveness and game planning. Friedman said Wood is a player the club "would bet on because of the way he goes about it."
At catcher, Friedman said he expects rookie Will Smith to help the club win games in 2018, but will probably be best served opening the season playing regularly at Triple-A. Keibert Ruiz's arrival is more likely 2020.
• ESPN released a partial list of games scheduled for Sunday Night Baseball next year and the Dodgers are playing in four of them.
Listed was an April 7 game at Coors Field against the Rockies starting at 5:30 p.m. PT; June 16 against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium starting at 4 p.m. PT; July 14 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park starting at 4 p.m. PT; and Aug. 25 against the Yankees at Dodger Stadium starting at 4 p.m. PT. The April 7 game will be the first Sunday Night Baseball game hosted by the Rockies since 2001.
It was previously announced that the Dodgers' Opening Day game against Arizona at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, March 28, will be televised beginning at 1 p.m. PT. Additional Sunday Night Baseball game selections will be determined in the coming weeks, according to ESPN.
• Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, designated for assignment on Nov. 28, was not tendered a contract and became a free agent.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.