Manager, starting pitching top LA's wish list
Greinke likely to opt out, leaving huge void in rotation
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers will play their customary role at the center of the Hot Stove League this offseason as they name a new manager and, quite likely, a replacement for Cy Young Award candidate Zack Greinke.
How they go about the latter will be an indication of how aggressively management shifts from paying top dollar for proven marquee talent to its stated model of sustainable, in-house player development.
Whichever path it takes, the pitching staff needs rebuilding, there's a hole to fill at second base again and the outfield needs a run producer.
Free agents/options: LHP Brett Anderson, INF Howie Kendrick, INF Jimmy Rollins; RHP Greinke (player opt-out); RHP Bronson Arroyo ($11 million team option or $4.5 million buyout), LHP J.P. Howell ($6.25 million player option), RHP Joel Peralta ($2.5 million team option), INF Chase Utley ($15 million team option).
Greinke opted out of the remainder of his contract on Wednesday. The Dodgers will make a $15.8 million, one-year qualifying offer by Friday and he will reject it by Nov. 13, leaving the club with a compensatory Draft pick after the first round and a massive hole in the rotation if he signs elsewhere.
Greinke could have decided not to opt out and instead pitch the next three seasons with the Dodgers for $71 million. Or the club could have torn that up and given him a new deal. But he originally signed because the Dodgers offered the most money, which is not likely the case this time, as estimates put Greinke's open-market value now at $180 million for six years.
A qualifying offer also is likely to be extended to Anderson and Kendrick, although both will probably receive multiyear deals coming off solid seasons. Howell also could leverage his player option into a multiyear deal.
Rollins already lost his starting shortstop job to Corey Seager. Options for Arroyo and Utley will be turned down. Peralta was hurt most of the season, but is a favorite of club president Andrew Friedman, so he's likely to return in some role.
Needs: Multiple starting pitchers, middle relief depth, starting second baseman, outfield run production. The latter depends in large part on management's evaluations of Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson.
Potential targets: Assuming Greinke leaves, the most popular Hot Stove names will be David Price, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann. All are younger than Greinke. Price pitched for Friedman in Tampa Bay. However, all will be seeking nine-figure contracts, and whether this management is willing to do that is a big unknown. Last offseason it passed on every big-name free agent and signed pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Anderson, with mixed results. Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir might be on the radar. Anderson is only 27, so the Dodgers will probably try to keep him.
Trade assets: Another huge unknown is whether this management has given up on Puig or still views him as one of the most talented players in the game. Because of injuries and distracting deportment, Puig has burned many Dodgers bridges. Any new manager that doesn't understand how disruptive Puig can be hasn't spoken to Don Mattingly.
Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier have contracts management would move, but the one surprising trade piece that could bring the biggest return is closer Kenley Jansen, who will be entering his final season before free agency and is likely to earn around $11.5 million through arbitration. If management wants to lower payroll and replenish the roster, a trade of Jansen is more likely than a long-term contract to keep him.
Bottom line: Expect the unexpected. Based on its performance over the past year, the management team is contrarian, bold, clever and confident.