LAS VEGAS — Late on Monday afternoon, Andrew Friedman Dodger President of Baseball Operations talked about the state of the Dodgers and what was going on with the team.
Perhaps the only news in this conversation, outside of some notes on specific Dodgers, was that Friedman does think that the team will use the starting pitcher and outfielder depth to improve the team. But no player or potential trade was mentioned tonight.
Here’s what Friedman said when he was asked about making “a splash” in the offseason considering who the Dodgers are in the world of Major League Baseball.
“I think the pressure we feel is to make a splash in October much more so than in December,” Friedman said, “so for us it is about having as good as a team and as balanced as a team as we can. There are certainly things we would like to do before the start of season to accomplish that but again we feel like we have a really talented team.”
“If the season were to start tomorrow, fortunately it doesn’t, and we feel like we have upside to build on that, And that is what we’re focused on.”
For much of this conversation, Friedman talked in generalities about improvements in terms of specific potential player acquisitions and he also touched on a few current players and what they are doing this offseason to get ready for 2019.
When asked about the surplus of starting pitchers and outfielders, Friedman said he’s prepared to start spring training with everyone back but he doesn’t think that is likely.
“I just think they are talented enough where things will line up and makes sense that works out well for our team and the acquiring team, so I’d be surprised if that were the case,” Friedman said, “but obviously if the return didn’t work for us, we would but I can’t see that happening.”
As Dodgers stand right now on Monday evening in Las Vegas, Friedman believes the Dodgers are still gathering information at this point.
“Today was just kind of a continuation of conversations that we have had for the last couple of weeks,” Friedman said, “but I expect tonight, tomorrow, tomorrow night, things will start coming into more focus.”
“We’ve had a lot of conversations with teams and with agents even before today and so we kind of a road map of teams we wanted to focus on and have those follow up conversations,” Friedman said, “similarly with agents and I think it’s something that we got a lot more clarity on.” “Whether that means something will happen in the next day or two, what’s more important for us is just getting a more accurate gauge on things that are realistic and how it kind of fits of the overall context of things we are trying to do .”
Friedman does believe that the depth on the major league level that can help facilitate player moves this offseason.
“I think that helps. I think we have a fairly high kind of jumping off point,” Friedman said, “as you look around the field, we feel good about virtually everywhere around the field.”
“Obviously we have to figure out something in tandem with [Austin Barnes],” Friedman said, “but we feel really good about our talent level and feeling we are in a position of depth to entertain different conversations and possibly reallocate that depth in a little different ways that provides opportunity,”
The Dodgers are high on catching prospects Will Smith, who finished the season at Oklahoma City and Keibert Ruiz, who was one of the top prospects in the Texas League in 2018. So while the future is close, Friedman isn’t quite ready to see one of those players paired with Barnes to start next season.
Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if Will Smith caught some games for the Dodgers in 2019 but getting more games at Oklahoma City will help him, particularly at the plate.
Keibert Ruiz has handled every development hurdle that have given him. Friedman said it is hard to say when he will be ready, 2020 is the safer year to pick but he would not rule out things happening faster than that. But Friedman is happy they don’t have to make that decision right now.
“We don’t feel like it is in their best interest to start on Opening Day so adding someone, obviously we have Farmer and Rocky [Gale] as well,” Friedman said, “but I think adding someone from the outside is a clear area where we can kind of augment the team.”
“But we also feel strongly in [Barnes]. we really believe in him as a player and feel like he will bounce back in 2019. And he’s already hard at work at getting back to where he was.”
Friedman gave some quick notes on some of the Dodgers and what they are doing to prepare for the next season.
Cody Bellinger is at Dodger Stadium this week to work with the hitting guys. Friedman said Bellinger is in a “great frame of mind to make some adjustments here and there.”
Friedman says that there are 15-20 guys who are working out at Dodger Stadium on a daily basis right now, both from the major league and minor league organization. Justin Turner, Joc Pederson and Kenley Jansen are a few of the players that are working with the strength and development team.
Kenley Jansen is in a great frame of mind and he is working out. Friedman expects him to be ready to go with no limitations in February.
Corey Seager is also in Los Angeles and he is now ready to begin training after going through the rehabbing process for both Tommy John and hip surgeries. Friedman says they’ll know a lot more in January. He’s already running and throwing.
Friedman said Alex Wood got out of whack mechanically and that it was difficult to make any changes during the season. Wood does feel good on where he is right now.
Friedman said he isn’t sure if going back to the windup will make the difference but that windup will be reintroduced.
Andrew Friedman said that Alex Verdugo is a “really good baseball player” and that he has “good instincts for the game.”
“Anytime you are talking about about a prospect there’s always risk and how those skills will translate to the major league level,” Friedman said, “but I think with him it is much higher floor than most. “With the bat to ball skills that he has, the feel for the game, the instincts and his ability to make adjustments on the fly.”
Friedman said Verdugo has done everything he can control to put himself in position to take down a significant role at the major league level. It isn’t perfectly clear how it will resolve itself given all the outfielders the Dodgers currently have but Friedman believes Verdugo is ready to play in the majors.