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Los Angeles Dodgers 2016 offseason review

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After taking a look around the rest of the National League West, it's time to turn the magnifying glass inward and inspect the offseason of the Dodgers.


2015 record: 92-70, first place NL West

Other beat writers to follow: @kengurnick, @billplunkettocr@jphoornstra@McCulloughTimes@billshaikin@DougPadilla

Free agents

The big loss was obviously Greinke, and to a division rival, but more on that in a minute. The club also retained free agents Brett Anderson (accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer), Howie Kendrick (two years, $20 million after his market cratered) and Chase Utley (one year, $7 million).


Oct. 14: Right-handed pitcher Brooks Brown was claimed off waivers from Colorado. He was later sent outright to Triple-A.

Oct. 21: Right-handed pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla was claimed off waivers from Texas. He was later non-tendered, then signed to a minor league deal.

Dec. 16: Acquired pitcher Frankie Montas, outfielder Trayce Thompson and infielder Micah Johnson from the Reds in a three-team trade that sent outfielder Scott Schebler, infielder Jose Peraza and minor league infielder Brandon Dixon from the Dodgers to the Reds, and Todd Frazier from Cincinnati to Chicago.

Jan. 12: Traded Joe Wieland to the Mariners for minor league infielder Erick Mejia.

Daniel Fields and Danny Reynolds were claimed off waivers, then eventually lost on waivers. Tyler Olson was traded for, then eventually sent with Ronald Torreyes to the Yankees for corner man Rob Segedin, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee.

Notable NRIs

Old friend Elian Herrera is back after two years in Milwaukee, and his ability to play infield and outfield fits right in with the Dodgers' lust for roster versatility. With the depth ahead of him Herrera faces long odds of making the big league club in camp, but he could find his way to Los Angeles at some point in 2016.

The Dodgers' group of 23 non-roster invitees is full of impressive young prospects like Julio Urias, Jose De Leon and Cody Bellinger, plus others from the farm like Chase De Jong, Jacob Rhame and Caleb Dirks, who get to experience big league camp for the first time.

Just deserts

If the Dodgers were to lose Greinke to a division rival, it was expected to be the Giants, who were in hot pursuit of the right-hander who put up a Cy Young Award-worthy season in 2015, one of the best pitching seasons in Dodgers history and in his three years with the Dodgers was one of the best pitchers in baseball.

But instead, a different division rival swooped in, with the Diamondbacks blowing everyone out of the water with a six-year, $206.5 million contract for Greinke. The Dodgers reported offer was five years and $155-160 million, with the team balking at a sixth year and roughly $34-39 million more for Greinke's age-37 season (because of the deferrals in Greinke's contract with Arizona, MLB valued the deal the equivalent of just under $194 million).

There is no question that Greinke is a huge loss for the Dodgers, and someone who will be tough to replace. The Dodgers chose to do so with depth (more on that in a second), with helps fuel the seemingly prevailing perception that the club isn't going all in, especially while division rivals Arizona (signing Greinke, trading for Shelby Miller) and San Francisco (Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija) adding big-ticket items to their shopping cart.

But reducing analyses to such simple terms belies the fact that baseball is a complicated game, with many ways, and many players needed, to win. Having Greinke would no doubt have been great for the Dodgers, and was perhaps the preferred option, but after three years with a healthy Clayton Kershaw and Greinke atop the pitching staff producing three division titles but only one playoff series win suggests there just might be more to this whole success thing, and that having them both at all costs doesn't guarantee a thing.

We probably should have seen Greinke leaving sooner, as president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman laid the ground work back when Dave Roberts was hired.

"The free agent market when you look back over time hasn't necessarily resulted in helping teams win in October. There's just not that high of a correlation between them," Friedman reasoned. "On one hand by making a big splash you might win the winter headlines, but more often than not you aren't having a parade at the end of October."

Not so fast

The other lens through which the Dodgers' offseason has been viewed is that the club is on Plan E or Plan F, having failed to execute its original plans. Two notable, and public, deals that fell apart helped fuel this fire.

The club tried to make up for the loss of Greinke with a three-year, $45 million deal for Hisashi Iwakuma, but after the agreement was reported Iwakuma failed his physical, and ended up returning to Seattle for a much smaller guarantee, a one-year, $12 million deal with two option years.

The other transaction that was done was the acquisition of closer Aroldis Chapman from the Reds at the winter meetings, but the Dodgers pulled out after reports of a domestic violence incident at Chapman's home surfaced.

"As was reported we did come to an agreement in principle on a deal, but as the details that emerged came to light we just weren't comfortable making the move," general manager Farhan Zaidi said in December. "Every situation like this is different, and every organization has to make their own decision about it. We made the decision based on the information that was at hand, and we stand by it. We've moved on from there."


While the Dodgers didn't secure Greinke, Iwakuma or Chapman despite their intentions, the club did build an incredibly deep roster.

Scott Kazmir slotted in at essentially the Iwakuma contract - Kazmir got three years and $48 million - but with an opt-out after 2016. Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda, with reported elbow issues of his own despite (or more likely, because of) averaging 200 innings over the last seven years in Japan, signed one of the most team-friendly contracts around, accepting most of the risk with an eight-year, $25 million deal, with incentives that can push the deal north of $106 million.

The Dodgers got a perfectly serviceable 4.05 ERA and 4.01 FIP in 46 starts in 2015 out of Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias and Alex Wood, and those three could be on the outside looking in once Hyun-jin Ryu is healthy and back from his shoulder surgery.

The club inserted itself into the Todd Frazier deal, swapping three prospects for three that fit this roster a little better, most notably Trayce Thompson as a potential fourth or fifth outfielder (though now sixth, it seems) and Frankie Montas as a potential bullpen piece, though he is currently sidelined for up to four months after surgery to remove a rib.

The coup of the offseason was waiting out the Howie Kendrick market, and having the flexibility to swoop in when he was still available in February, bringing back the second baseman for a very reasonable two-year, $20 million deal.

"We know we have the talent and the depth that we need to have to win the division," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "We're the deepest team in baseball. We'll be able to afford basically any injury. A lot of teams can't say that. Talent wise, we're at the top."

Avatars worth watching

More depth means more new players and more awesome photoshop jobs on Twitter.


After 278 wins and three straight division titles, the Dodgers might not have raised their ceiling this offseason, but they certainly increased their floor. It's hard to see a scenario in which they aren't in prime contention for a fourth straight division title.