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Friedman made mark at Winter Meetings in '14

Executive hit the ground running to change team culture
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Two months after Andrew Friedman took over the Dodgers as their president of baseball operations, he took over the Winter Meetings.

Hired on Oct. 14, 2014, by Guggenheim Baseball Management to get the Dodgers to the next level, and called by CEO Stan Kasten "one of the youngest and brightest minds in the game today," Friedman inherited a back-to-back division champion from Ned Colletti.

LOS ANGELES -- Two months after Andrew Friedman took over the Dodgers as their president of baseball operations, he took over the Winter Meetings.

Hired on Oct. 14, 2014, by Guggenheim Baseball Management to get the Dodgers to the next level, and called by CEO Stan Kasten "one of the youngest and brightest minds in the game today," Friedman inherited a back-to-back division champion from Ned Colletti.

Hot Stove Tracker

Before the Winter Meetings opened in San Diego, Friedman had been joined by Farhan Zaidi, Josh Byrnes and an analytical front office reared in small-market economics. The overriding mission was to reset player development, reducing dependence on costly free agents and trades for veterans.

The Dodgers got the jump on the Winter Meetings by trading for pitchers Joel Peralta, Adam Liberatore, Mike Bolsinger and Juan Nicasio, obtaining outfielder Chris Heisey and sending catcher Drew Butera to the Angels. At the Meetings came word that the Dodgers agreed to a four-year deal with free-agent right-handed starter Brandon McCarthy and a one-year contract with free-agent left-handed starter Brett Anderson.

Then Friedman went on a trading blitzkrieg. He sent All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon, pitcher Dan Haren, infielder Miguel Rojas and $10 million to the Marlins for starting pitcher Andrew Heaney, reliever Chris Hatcher, catcher/infielder Austin Barnes and utility man Enrique Hernandez.

Friedman flipped Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick to replace Gordon at second base. He dealt a pair of Minor Leaguers to the Phillies for former National League Most Valuable Player Award winner Jimmy Rollins. Rollins was the short-term shortstop placeholder between Hanley Ramirez, who left for free agency, and Corey Seager, who became a superstar.

And while in San Diego, Friedman left one of his outfielders there, dealing Matt Kemp (opening right field for Yasiel Puig) and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Padres for catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin (saving $75 million in Kemp's future salary).

"It all gets back to us doing everything we could to mold the roster into a highly functional team, instead of a collection of talent," Friedman said of the extreme makeover. "The overall theme and mindset is to intersperse young players and not get players on the back of 30-something on long-term contracts riding down the back side of their career."

Then-manager Don Mattingly, who had a chilly relationship with Kemp, endorsed the moves.

"I just feel it's more of a team," said Mattingly. "The club last year won 94 games. We were a little crazy, but that's who we were. Nothing wrong with that. But I think the pieces will fit together better."

Friedman threaded the needle with deals that kept the Dodgers at a championship level while transitioning the organization to a more sustainable model of in-house development.

"I expect us to become a homegrown organization," said Kasten. "We will get young and will wind up with a payroll [that's] lower. Payroll is a byproduct of youth. But it's never payroll just driving decisions. Phase 1 was to get the best team on the field. Phase 2 is to transition to homegrown. This week we took tangible steps to fulfill our overarching goal to become more reliant on our infrastructure and player development. With the kind of energy and success Andrew has had, he'll really do well here."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers