SAN DIEGO — I touched on the Dodgers’ pursuit of a shortstop in today’s Winter Meetings notebook, but general manager Farhan Zaidi offered more to say than I had room in print.
So, about Hanley Ramirez’s replacement …
Lavarnway came up as a catcher but bounced around last season. All of his 24 major-league innings last season came at first base. He’ll be bouncing again in 2015, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Monday: “He’ll catch some, play some at first, and right handed bat (off the bench).”
Miller has been linked to the Dodgers a couple times — once at the last trade deadline, before he was ultimately traded to Baltimore, and again during the free agency period.
However, Miller reportedly never wanted to sign with a West Coast team, apparently leaving more money on the table to stay on the East Coast. According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, Miller signed with the Yankees for reasons beyond the money:
In the total package, there were things that the Yankees could offer me that no one else could. I live in Tampa (where the Yankees train). That’s two months at home that I don’t have otherwise.
In hindsight, the Dodgers’ best chance to land Miller would have been via trade. Even then, he might have been impossible to re-sign and the Dodgers might have sacrificed a top prospect for a rental pitcher in the playoffs.
Given how the Dodgers’ bullpen struggled in the NLDS against St. Louis, would that have been a bad thing?
Jon Lester is arguably the best left-handed pitcher on the free agent market. Wednesday, it was revealed that the Dodgers might enter an escalating bidding war for his services (according to reports here, here, here, here and here).
Here’s what you need to know as of Thursday morning:
If the Dodgers want to acquire Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, as has been rumored, it will reportedly cost them one of their top position-player prospects.
Hamels, who is from San Diego, cannot contractually block a trade to the Dodgers according to the report.
The Phillies are attempting to rebuild their expensive, aging roster, making them less interested in a veteran outfielder (Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford or Matt Kemp) than teams in “win-now mode.” Hence their interest in the Dodgers’ prospects.
Hamels, who turns 31 on December 27, ranks sixth among active pitchers with a 3.27 ERA and second with a 1.142 WHIP. He finished sixth in 2014 Cy Young Award balloting after going 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA in 30 starts.
Heisey, who turns 30 on December 14, joins a crowded outfield situation in Los Angeles after appearing in 119 games last season for Cincinnati, his fifth major-league season. The right-handed hitter owns a career slash line of .247/.299/.422 in 543 games, all with the Reds.
Magill, 25, spent all of 2014 at Triple-A Albuquerque. The Simi Valley native had an 0-2 record and a 6.51 ERA in six starts for the Dodgers in 2013.
The Dodgers face an 8:59 p.m. deadline to tender a contract to players with less than six years’ service time. Those who were not tendered a contract today by their 2014 teams are free agents. Trades such as these are common when teams have a need for a player who will not be tendered a contract by their current club.
The pertinent question now is: Why do the Dodgers need another outfielder? Stay tuned.
According to CBSsports.com, the Seattle Mariners are one team who could put together a trade proposal for a very available Matt Kemp.
From Jon Heyman:
The Dodgers are looking to deal an outfielder, or possibly two, and the assumption had been that Carl Crawford and/or Adnre Ethier were most likely to be dealt, but Matt Kemp‘s name is clearly out on the trade market, too.
Word is, there is some interest in Kemp after his nice second half in L.A. last year, so he could be the righthanded middle-of-the-order bat several teams need.
The Mariners could use the help on offense — and move Kemp to his preferred position — after they got an MLB-low .556 OPS from their center fielders in 2014.
If true, the $75-80 million might not scare off the Dodgers as much as the five years. Martin turns 32 in February. A five-year contract would take him through his age-36 season. He is coming off a season in which he missed 21 games due to a hamstring injury, only the second disabled list stint of his career.
Martin’s most highly touted value as a catcher is his ability to frame pitches. He excels at other aspects of the position; Martin only committed three passed balls last year in 940 innings behind the plate, on par with Gold Glove winner Yadier Molina (who caught nine fewer innings). His catcher’s ERA of 3.31 was second to Molina among NL catchers who appeared in at least 100 games. He threw out 38.5 percent of attempted base stealers in 2014 and 40 percent in 2013, both among the top 10 in the National League.
But if the Dodgers are afraid that Martin’s offense will fall off, history justifies their hesitation. Here are two pieces (via FanGraphs.com and TribLive.com) that used history to guide the question of how well catchers perform on offense as they age.
No doubt the Dodgers have studied those numbers, and probably a few more too, while pondering a reunion (with a catcher who’s never played for Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi or Josh Byrnes). They have reportedly lined up a meeting with Martin’s agent, Matt Colleran.