Free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter said Monday in an appearance on the MLB Network that he’d like to make a decision on his future soon. On the surface, the Dodgers appear to be a bad fit. Left fielder Carl Crawfordis expected to be healthy on opening day after having Tommy John surgery in August. Center fielder Matt Kemp should be ready following his shoulder procedure in September. Andre Ethier is healthy and entrenched in right field, and general manager Ned Colletti said Monday that he hasn’t talked to any teams about trading Ethier.
For Hunter, who can play both center and left — and did so while hitting .313/.365/.451 over 140 games last season in Anaheim — Dodger Stadium looks like a bad place to ply your trade.
But rumors gained steam last week when the Dodgers talked to Hunter’s agent at the GM meetings. There was no word how far those talks got, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point Hunter broached the subject with his pal, Kemp, too. Hunter lives in Southern California and plans stay once he retires. At age 37, that probably isn’t too far off.
Colletti has stated his interest in acquiring someone who can back up Kemp in center field — so why not Hunter? It’s not as if the Dodgers can’t afford him.
There’s one problem with that, manager Don Mattingly said Monday.
Both the hitting coach and pitching coach duties will be split. John Valentin will assist McGwire while Ken Howell, the Dodgers’ bullpen coach from 2008-12, will assist pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Chuck Crim takes over as the bullpen coach after two seasons as the pitching coach at Double-A Chattanooga.
Otherwise Don Mattingly’s staff looks the same: Davey Lopes (first base), Tim Wallach (third base), Trey Hillman (bench), Manny Mota (coach) and Steve Yeager (coach).
Baseball’s annual general manager meetings are nearly wrapped up. Here’s what we know: The Dodgers’ free-agent wish list is headlined by a pair of right-handed starting pitchers. One is Hiroki Kuroda. According to CBSSports.com, the other is Anibal Sanchez.
Writes Jon Heyman:
This news should be of some comfort to the Angels, who internally have wondered whether their crosstown rival might try to blow them out of the water on (Zack) Greinke, who is clearly their far and away No. 1 winter goal.
The Dodgers are likely to at least look at Greinke, Kyle Lohse and others, as they are determined to land at least one starting pitcher — and maybe two
General manager Ned Colletti didn’t want to lose Kuroda as a free agent last winter. But due to the Dodgers’ shrinking budget, he opted instead to sign Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang at a discount — their combined 2012 salaries of $6 million were less than the $10 million Kuroda got from the New York Yankees.
Given the opportunity, it makes sense why the Dodgers might want to bring back Kuroda. In three seasons in Los Angeles from 2008-11 he won 41 games while compiling a 3.45 earned-run average. Last season he led the Yankees with a 3.32 ERA and shared the staff lead in wins (16-11).
Sanchez has been consistently good the past three seasons. Shipped to Detroit at midseason in the Marlins’ semi-annual fire sale, he went 4-6 in 12 regular-season starts for the Tigers. But Sanchez shined in the playoffs, posting a 1.77 ERA in three starts as Detroit advanced to the American League Championship Series. His six-pitch arsenal is anchored by a low-90s fastball. The 28-year-old from Venezuela is regarded as a ground-ball pitcher whose control has improved greatly in recent years.
Don’t expect either pitcher to sign anywhere this week. It’s a relatively thin market for starting pitchers and the best of them might not leave the board until December.
The general managers will reconvene Dec. 3-6 at the annual winter meetings in Nashville.
Clayton Kershaw is among the top three vote-getters for the National League Cy Young Award, announced Wednesday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The New York Mets’ R.A. Dickey and the Washington Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez are the other finalists.
Kershaw led the National League in ERA (2.53) and fell one short of Dickey for the strikeout title, with 229 in 227 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old led the NL in wins (21-5), strikeouts (248) and ERA (2.28) while winning the Cy Young Award in 2011.
Dickey is considered the favorite to win the award this year. The 37-year-old knuckleballer went 20-6 for a moribund Mets club, equaling his win total from the last three seasons combined.