Not all 12 will be back, but here’s an educated guess at the likelihood of each player returning to the Dodgers, ranked in order of least likely to most:
The World Series is over, making ringbearers of the Red Sox and free agents of dozens of players around baseball.
The Dodgers will have at least 10: Ricky Nolasco, Michael Young, Juan Uribe, Carlos Marmol, Jerry Hairston, Edinson Volquez, Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson. Per MLB rules, the Dodgers have exclusive negotiating rights with each player up until midnight Eastern Time Monday, after which all are free to sign with any club.
Sometime within the next five days, general manager Ned Colletti and staff must ultimately decide whether or not to extend these players a qualifying offer, a guaranteed contract for 2014 equal to the average salary of the highest-paid 125 players. This year, that’s $14.1 million.
The potential risk every team faces in extending a qualifying offer is that the player will accept the offer and receive more money than he would by testing the open market. The potential reward is twofold: 1, you might re-sign the player at a discount compared to his open-market value; 2, if the player doesn’t accept the qualifying offer and signs elsewhere, your team receives a first-round draft pick in 2014 from the team that does sign the player.
Of the Dodgers’ 10 free agents, Nolasco is the only viable candidate to receive a qualifying offer. He made $11.5 million last year. What’s another $2.6 million? That’s the, um, $2.6 million question that’s been floating around the front offices at Chavez Ravine this month. The answer should be an easy one: Since Nolasco didn’t begin the year with the Dodgers, they won’t receive any draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
More on him, and the other free agents, later today.
We should also note here that Chris Capuano and Mark Ellis have options for 2014 in their contracts. Capuano’s is a mutual option for $8 million with a $1 million buyout; Ellis’ is a $5.75 million club option with a $1 million buyout. If the team declines the option on both players, that’s a dirty dozen Dodgers destined to hit the free-agent market.
Chris Capuano said that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told him after Thursday’s workout at Busch Stadium that Edinson Volquez was going to be the team’s long reliever in the National League Championship Series.
“We had to have a guy that could definitely be a long guy and we felt like he was the best long guy against this club,” Mattingly said Friday of Volquez.
“You have Carlos Marmol who’s just throwing the ball fantastic, you’ve got Brandon League, you’ve got Edinson Volquez, you’ve got some real power arms,” Capuano said. “It was exciting for me to have a chance to contribute.”
At the time, Capuano reeked of false modesty. He had just pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lasted just three innings in his MLB postseason debut. The veteran left-hander is the only pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw to win a game for the Dodgers this postseason. He validated manager Don Mattingly‘s faith in Capuano and his health — he missed three weeks in September with a strained groin — and seemed to have earned his keep as a long reliever for any similar situations in the National League Championship Series.
Right-handed pitchers Edinson Volquez and Carlos Marmol are replacing left-handers Paco Rodriguez and Chris Capuano on the Dodgers’ roster for the National League Championship Series, submitted to the league this morning.
Here are the 11 pitchers and 14 position players on the roster:
RHP Carlos Marmol
LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu
RHP Edinson Volquez
The team has scheduled a simulated game for 5 p.m. this afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Since it’s expected to rain the rest of the afternoon, there is a chance they will work out indoors. There are more television screens inside, so that might not be a bad thing.
That’s because 5 p.m. is also the scheduled start time for Game 5 of the Division Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. If the Cardinals win, Game 1 of the NLCS is Friday in St. Louis. If the Pirates win, Game 1 is Friday in Los Angeles.
Andre Ethier will be on the Dodgers’ active roster for the National League Division Series, the team announced today. So will speedster Dee Gordon and rookie outfielder Scott Van Slyke.
However, utility player Jerry Hairston Jr., pitchers Carlos Marmol, Brandon League and Edinson Volquez won’t be available when the Dodgers begin play tonight in the best-of-five series against the Atlanta Braves.
The availability of Ethier, who injured his lower left leg (including the Achilles heel, ankle and shin) in early September, has been in jeopardy for weeks. Even Wednesday, he was seen limping onto the field for a team workout. He will likely be limited to pinch-hitting duties while Skip Schumaker assumes the starting center fielder’s job.
Conversely, Gordon will likely be limited to pinch-running duties. He’s been taking reps in center field, as has Van Slyke, who gives the Dodgers some power (.803 OPS in 53 regular-season games) off the bench.
The absence of Hairston isn’t a big surprise. He batted .143, with one home run in 42 games, after the All-Star break. A back injury had also been bothering him recently.
A bigger surprise was the inclusion of Chris Capuano, who started 20 games in the regular season, as a left-handed relief pitcher. Ricky Nolasco was chosen over Capuano and Volquez to start Game 4, and Volquez had pitched consistently in a fifth starter’s role while Capuano missed three weeks in September with a strained left groin. The Dodgers already have two left-handers in the bullpen, J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez, though Rodriguez has struggled with his control in September.
Still, Capuano didn’t allow a run in three September relief appearances. His final start of August was stellar (7 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K’s against the San Diego Padres), and his experience at age 35 might have played to his advantage.
Right-handers Marmol and League have experience too, and had to be among the toughest decisions for manager Don Mattingly. Marmol went 0-0 with a 2.53 ERA in 21 relief appearances after being acquired in a midseason trade with the Chicago Cubs.
League, signed to a four-year, $27.5 million deal last fall that made him the Dodgers’ highest-paid reliever, struggled mightily in August and September. He allowed 25 hits in 19 appearances the last two months, including three that left the park. League also has no postseason experience.
Ryu was a virtual lock to start Sunday’s Game 3 after he went 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts, finishing second only to Clayton Kershaw on the team in starts and innings pitched (192). The left-hander faced Altanta twice during the regular season and allowed three runs, striking out 11 batters in 12 ⅔ innings.
Sandoval is 6 for 13 in his career against Dodgers starting pitcher Edinson Volquez with a career .462/.462/.692 slash line. He’s batting .276 this season and clubbed his 14th home run in the Giants’ 6-4 win over the Dodgers last night. Nick Noonan, whose diving stop of a Hanley Ramirez ground ball ended Wednesday’s game, will replace Sandoval at third base.
For the second straight time, Tim Federowicz is catching Volquez. Volquez was sharp with Federowicz behind the plate last Friday in San Diego, allowing one earned run in 6 ⅓ innings. Another strong outing by Volquez will give the Dodgers a tough decision about who should take the ball in a potential playoff Game 4 after Ricky Nolasco struggled again Wednesday.
Other than Federowicz, the Dodgers’ lineup has a very playoff-ready look. The Giants have already clinched a win in the season series against the Dodgers, with 10 wins in the first 18 head-to-head games. However, the Dodgers are 36-36 this season against other National League West teams, with their final four games all coming against divisional opponents — the Giants tonight and the Colorado Rockies this weekend.
That’s a minor footnote, since the Dodgers won’t face any West teams in the playoffs. Cosmetically at least, a losing record within the division would look bad. As my father would say, it’s something to work on.
Here’s how both teams will line up: