GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After missing out on free agent Yu Darvish, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he's comfortable with the Dodgers' starting pitching depth, even though it lacks the veteran arms of past seasons.After a starting five of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After missing out on free agent Yu Darvish, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he's comfortable with the Dodgers' starting pitching depth, even though it lacks the veteran arms of past seasons.
After a starting five of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu -- each with at least 24 starts last year -- the depth chart according to Friedman shows rookie Walker Buehler, Thomas Stripling, Brock Stewart and Julio Urias (when he returns from shoulder surgery in the second half). That quartet had a combined 11 Major League starts last year.
"There are a lot of guys from a talent perspective we really like," said Friedman. "I'm really not worried about it. I think we have enough talent. I don't know who it is or how it will shake out, but I think we have enough options and interesting guys that we'll be in good shape."
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The Dodgers made a longshot run at Darvish, but otherwise took a pass this offseason on expensive acquisitions, aiming to get the payroll under the $197 million luxury tax threshold. By doing so, the penalty percentage rate is reset and the club complies with debt-service ratio mandates.
"We knew it was going to require a triple-Lindy of sorts," Friedman said, describing the financial engineering needed for a Darvish bid by channeling the movie "Back to School."
"If it had been a distressed enough market how it played out, there could potentially be a scenario. He ended up doing well for himself, and rightfully so, and we wish him the best."
So, Darvish is gone, and so are Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir. The youth movement continues, even though Friedman said the club will attend Timothy Lincecum's latest comeback showcase.
"Look at the position-player side and the young players we've broken in over the last three or four years, we need to start doing that with our starters and get to a point where one or two spots are kind of taken down by our good, young pitching and let them have a runway to develop," Friedman said. "I do think this year will provide some of that. By the end of the season, we'll have a better idea of who we can pencil in and count on for Spring Training next year."
Friedman continued the increasingly optimistic management tone on Matt Kemp, whose storyline has gone from an unwanted salary swap to what Friedman said is a "very real" chance to make the club.
"He's excited about the challenge and we're excited to watch him play," Friedman said. "We're going into it with a really open mind. He's done everything we could have possibly asked and he's fitting in real well. He really wants to do all he can to show us where he's at physically. He's obviously really gifted in the batter's box but has slipped some, regressed some defensively in the recent past. The conversations we've had, his mindset is to show he's the Gold Glove-caliber outfielder he was in the past."
Despite losing setup man Brandon Morrow to the Cubs as well, Friedman believes the bullpen has been replenished with the signing of right-hander Tom Koehler and trade for lefty Scott Alexander.
"Koehler has long been on our radar of a reliever conversion candidate," he said. "We feel he's got the stuff, with smaller tweaks and the mindset changes and he goes in smaller bursts, there's real upside. Alexander, he puts the ball on the ground, equally good against lefties and righties, can pitch multiple innings, high leverage, medium leverage, and he can clean up situations. He really fits our 'pen well."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.