Daily Distractions: Predicting the Dodgers’ agenda for the Winter Meetings.

Juan Uribe

Juan Uribe is the Dodgers’ first choice to play third base in 2014. (Associated Press photo)

Tuesday was such a busy day for free agent signings and trades around baseball, one website asked what many major league beat writers were probably thinking: “Who needs the Winter Meetings”?

For the Dodgers at least, next week could be a productive one. The Brian Wilson deal isn’t official yet, despite reports that he passed his physical. Assuming that contract has been signed by the time Dodgers officials land in Orlando, Florida, here’s what will top the to-do list:

1. A third baseman. General manager Ned Colletti is still hoping to bring back Juan Uribe, who is reportedly seeking a three-year contract. If the Dodgers are willing to go to a third year, there must still be a gap in dollar figures being exchanged by the two sides. Maybe they can overcome their differences in a week. Maybe not. If the Dodgers aren’t ready to commit to Hanley Ramirez as their third baseman for 2014, they might be best suited to resolve the position via trade if Uribe signs elsewhere. The free-agent crop at third base is really that thin.

2. A left-handed reliever. The Dodgers have a nice stable of right-handers among Kenley Jansen, Wilson, Chris Withrow, Brandon League and Jose Dominguez. Other than Paco Rodriguez, who petered out around the time of his 66th appearance in 2013, they don’t have a single established lefty reliever who will be healthy to start next season. (Scott Elbert underwent Tommy John surgery in June.) Re-signing J.P. Howell seems like the logical move, even if he is seeking a three-year contract. At age 30, Howell is a less risky investment than, say, Randy Choate, who was 37 when the Dodgers wouldn’t give him a three-year contract at this time last year. Javier Lopez raised the market value by signing a 3-year, $13 million deal to stay in San Francisco and Howell’s numbers are comparable. If the Dodgers can’t re-sign Howell, they may turn to a veteran such as Scott Downs on a shorter-term deal.

3. A bench. After losing Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto as free agents, the Dodgers lost arguably the two most proven quantities on their bench. Backup catcher Tim Federowicz, first baseman/outfielder Scott Van Slyke, outfielder Mike Baxter and whatever-he’s-playing-these-days Dee Gordon are all in line for bench jobs. The Dodgers would like to bring in another infielder as insurance if Alexander Guerrero isn’t ready to be the everyday second baseman. They could also shake up the equation by accepting trade offer for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
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Reports: Hiroki Kuroda re-signs with Yankees.

The Dodgers can cross one name off the list available free-agent starting pitchers.

Hiroki KurodaRight-hander Hiroki Kuroda agreed to terms with the New York Yankees on a one-year contract Tuesday, according to multiple reports. The former Dodgers pitcher is the first big-name starter to leave the market, and his $15 million price tag (plus incentives) is significant.

It should come as very good news for free agents Anibal Sanchez and Zack Greinke, both of whom fit the profile of the second or third starter that the Dodgers are seeking. The 37-year-old Kuroda was looking for a short-term deal, but that’s not believed to be the case with the 29-year-old Greinke and the 28-year-old Sanchez. Both pitchers can probably command a better average annual value than Kuroda on the open market.

But that could also be good news for the Dodgers, baseball’s new big spenders, who may have the financial edge in any bidding war for Greinke and Sanchez this winter.

The hot stove is heating up.

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Dodgers’ free-agent wish list starts with two pitchers.

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.

Hiroki Kuroda
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. Anibal SanchezBut 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.

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Ten Dodgers become free agents.

The Dodgers declined to exercise the 2013 club options on Todd Coffey, Juan Rivera and Matt Treanor.

They join another seven players who became free agents today: Brandon League, Shane Victorino, Randy Choate, Jamey Wright, Joe Blanton, Adam Kennedy and Bobby Abreu.

In other words, no big names or surprises for the Dodgers on the first day of free agency. Players can only sign with new teams beginning at 9 p.m. Friday. Between now and then, the Dodgers can re-sign any of their in-house free agents, and they’ve already opened discussions with League’s representatives.

General manager Ned Colletti said that he would like to bring back Choate and Wright, as well, to keep intact a bullpen that finished the 2012 season strong.

Coffey, Rivera and Treanor now fall into the category of Victorino, Kennedy and Abreu: highly unlikely to be on the roster next season.

Blanton is an interesting case. The Dodgers gave him what amounted to a 10-start audition in August and September. In five starts at home, the 31-year-old right-hander went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA. Not bad. In five road starts he was 1-3, 6.51. Bad.

I guess that makes Blanton a “known quantity” for a team that is looking to add a starting pitcher. But looking at a free-agent market that now includes Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Dempster, Kyle Lohse  and Hiroki Kuroda (another “known quantity”), the Dodgers probably figure they can do better.

The hot stove is just warming up.

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Postgame: Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3 (10 innings)

The Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 4-3 tonight in 10 innings. For a full recap and boxscore click here.


The big story for the Dodgers tonight was what happened to starter Hiroki Kuroda. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Arizona pinch-hitter Rusty Ryal lined a 2-2 pitch right back at Kuroda’s right temple, and the 34-year-old righthander went down immediately. He did move, however, and CAT scans taken after the game at St. Joseph’s Hospital were negative.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers held a 3-1 lead into the ninth but closer Jonathan Broxton allowed back-to-back homers — only his third and fourth homers allowed of the season — to blow the save.

The Blue couldn’t put anything together offensively in the tenth, and the D’Backs came back with a perfectly executed bottom half of the inning off of Ramon Troncoso to get the win. Augie Ojeda singled, Dan Haren bunted him to second, and after two walks, Gerardo Parra hit a walk-off single.


The Dodgers took a 3-0 lead, but Ryal’s hit — ruled a ground-rule double — sparked the first run for the D’Backs. From there, the L.A. offense wasn’t the same, with only two hits.

Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill both feasted on an Arizona lineup that was incredibly left-handed in scoreless seventh and eighth innings. The 1-7 hitters in the D’Backs order were lefties.

Offensively, Brad Ausmus had an RBI single in the second, Doug Davis threw a pick-off away in the fifth to score Rafael Furcal, and Mark Loretta hit a sac fly to bring in Casey Blake in the sixth inning.

Matt Kemp didn’t have a hit but still wreaked havoc on the basepaths, reaching base via walk in the tenth inning and stealing second and third.


Randy Wolf (6-6, 3.43) tries to salvage a game for the Dodgers against Arizona’s Yusmeiro Petit (2-6, 5.87) tomorrow at 1 p.m.

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