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Dodgers head into Winter Meetings with catching on their mind

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This is the fifth Winter Meetings with Andrew Friedman in charge of Baseball Operations

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS — For the last several years, the 2019 offseason was being mentioned as a big one because Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were all set to be free agents.

Fittingly, this year’s Winter Meetings is being held in Las Vegas, the home of big gamblers. The question that remains is whether or not one or two baseball organizations go all-in on either Harper or Machado.

This will be the fifth Winter Meetings that has had Andrew Friedman at the head of the Dodgers Baseball Operations. His first Winter Meetings saw the Dodgers acquire catcher Yasmani Grandal. This week could see him acquire another catcher for the 2019 season.

For Dodger fans, their biggest potential free agent going into the offseason signed a new contract in November. Clayton Kershaw signed a three-year contract that will keep him in Dodger Blue through the 2021 season.

Last week, the Dodgers and Dave Roberts reached an agreement on a four-year contract. The Dodgers had initially picked the 2019 option on their two-time pennant-winning manager last month and it had been reported that both the Dodgers and Roberts were interested in a longer contract.

The following is a summary of what the Dodgers have done so far this offseason and what the team could be looking for this week. So far 34 players remain from end-of-season 40-man roster with six additions to the team.

Freese and Ryu will be back

Both David Freese and Hyun-jin Ryu avoided becoming free agents. Freese signed for a reported $5M that included his $500K buyout. Ryu accepted the $17.9M qualifying offer to pitch for the Dodgers in 2019.

Chase Utley officially retired

While Utley made his announcement during the season, the Dodgers formally released Chase Utley from the 40-man roster in November.

Ten players were tendered a 2019 contract

Although it has been reported that Tony Cingrani signed a $2.65M contract to avoid arbitration, the Dodgers have only said that they have tendered contracts to all arbitration-eligible players. Those players include Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Joc Pederson, Kiké Hernández, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, Josh Fields, Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia and Cingrani.

Five minor-leaguers had their contracts selected

The Dodgers selected the contracts of Keibert Ruiz, Yadier Alvarez, Josh Sborz, Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty. This meant that those players are now on the 40-man roster and will be protected from the Rule 5 draft.

In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated pitchers Erik Goeddel and Zac Rosscup and utility player Tim Locastro for assignment. The Dodgers also gave pitcher Tom Koehler his unconditional release. Locastro would be later traded to the New York Yankees for cash considerations and minor-league pitcher Drew Finley

Dodgers acquire pitcher from Atlanta Braves

On November 28th, the Dodgers acquired left-handed pitcher Adam McCreery for cash considerations. In order to make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Pat Venditte was designated for assignment.

What to look forward to this week

  • While the Dodgers currently have four catchers on their roster, only Austin Barnes is set to be one of the catchers for the 2019 Dodgers. The loss of free agent Yasmani Grandal (who turned down the qualifying offer) left a big hole in the lineup. The Dodgers have been linked to different catchers with some of those players already dealt to other teams.

J.T. Realmuto is biggest name out there but the cost could be too much for the Dodgers. There are reports that more than 10 teams are after Realmuto so could be something that happens this week.

  • Will Bryce Harper or Manny Machado be signed this week? Harper lives in the Las Vegas area and there is no doubt that Harper rumors will be more plentiful than free drinks at the slot machines. Interest in Machado seems to be isolated to just a few teams.

The Dodgers reportedly met with Harper’s “people” last week and certainly he fits the criteria of a player who would be set for the biggest contract this offseason.

  • Indians and Mariners are out there ready to make trades. The Dodgers have been linked to a potential trade with the Indians as they could be interested in dealing one of their top pitchers. The Mariners are rebuilding and they could still be looking to deal anyone making above the minimum salary.
  • Friedman said that the Dodgers would also be looking to supplement their bullpen, which almost goes without saying.
  • Finally, the Dodgers will be without a General Manager for the first time in this current front office construction. Last month Farhan Zaidi left to become the San Francisco Giants President of Baseball Operations. While the Dodgers had to add new coaches to their staff, Andrew Friedman said for now, the team will not be filling that job this offseason.