Cole Hamels and the Dodgers: 10 things you need to know.

Cole Hamels

Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels has been linked to the Dodgers in trade rumors. (Getty Images)

A lot of people are wondering about Cole Hamels and the Dodgers today.

A lot of people were wondering about Jon Lester and the Dodgers a week ago, so I wrote this. In hindsight, there was probably more smoke than fire around that rumor. That appears to be the case again with Hamels. Here are some reasons why, and some other things to know about the 30-year-old lefty:

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Taking stock of the new-look Dodgers.

San Diego status update: classy. #WinterMeetings

A photo posted by J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) on


It’s 11 a.m. Thursday and the Winter Meetings are slowly disintegrating but the Dodgers are not done dealing. In case you missed it, here’s what happened yesterday.

At the moment:

• The Dodgers didn’t select anyone in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft.

• Among Wednesday’s major deals, only the trade for Howie Kendrick is official.

• The trades for Jimmy Rollins and Yasmani Grandal are not official. Neither is the reported Brandon McCarthy contract. Here’s what I wrote about the pending megatrade with the Padres.

Zach Eflin and Tom Windle are reportedly the two pitchers going to Philadelphia to complete the Rollins trade.

So there’s a lot still up in the air. Just for fun, let’s assume the pending deals go through. Here’s what the Dodgers’ 25-man roster might look like if the season started in five minutes (because if the season started tomorrow, there would be more trades to account for):

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You might as well laugh: Day 3 of the Winter Meetings, for anyone who missed it.

True story: My wife and I share a birthday. Same exact date, three hours apart to the minute.

Wednesday was our birthday. We didn’t get to spend the day together last year. This year, a simple dinner would do. So I told my editor months ago that I was booking a three-night stay at the Winter Meetings hotel, then taking off Wednesday night. Play it by ear Thursday.

I pulled out of San Diego with the Jimmy Rollins trade still simmering, not looking like it would be resolved Wednesday, and Dee Gordon and Dan Haren firmly about to become Marlins. Checked with sources, felt good about the story, filed it at a Starbucks in Temecula, barely caught wind of the Brandon McCarthy signing before I turned off my iPhone. Because no good husband would constantly check his iPhone looking at sports news or doing work stuff during the birthday dinner.

Heh.

In case you missed it, this is how possibly the greatest one-day roster makeover in the history of the Dodgers franchise unfolded:
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Report: Andrew Miller didn’t want to sign with a West Coast team.

Andrew Miller, the top left-handed relief pitcher on the free agent market, signed a four-year contract with the Yankees today worth a reported $36 million.

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?

Dodgers might need to get more creative after Michael Cuddyer signs with Mets.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Friday that “we are trying to solve for talent and be as creative as we can to put the best team on the field as we can.”

How creative can Friedman and his colleagues be? We’ll find out soon enough.

One obvious trading partner for the Dodgers’ glut of outfielders all but eliminated itself from consideration Monday, when the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer to a two-year contract. The Mets’ outfield is full now with Cuddyer, right fielder Curtis Granderson and center fielder Juan Lagares.
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Hanley Ramirez sounds ready to reject the Dodgers’ qualifying offer.

As expected, it looks like Hanley Ramirez will reject the Dodgers’ $15.3 million qualifying offer and become a free agent. At least, that was the logical conclusion after Ramirez all but renounced his ties to the Dodgers in a series of tweets Thursday:

Ramirez also changed his Twitter bio to read “MLB shortstop,” taken from the business card of a man who knows what position he wants to play but doesn’t care where.

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Daily Distractions: Would the real Juan Uribe please stand up?

The depth chart on the Dodgers’ website is missing a third baseman, which paints an accurate picture of their third-base situation if Juan Uribe does not re-sign.

If only penciling him into the Dodgers’ 2014 lineup were as simple as lifting a pencil.

 

It seems that Uribe, whose OPS jumped from .542 to .769 in the final year of his contract, is counting on being rewarded handsomely for his bounceback season, which also saw him finish as the runner-up to Nolan Arenado for the National League Gold Glove award at third base.

The circumstances are similar to 2010, when Uribe signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Dodgers after posting a .248/.310/.440 slash line for the defending champion San Francisco Giants. (His slash line in 2013: .278/.331/.438.) That year, the top free agent third baseman was Adrian Beltre. The Dodgers determined early on that Beltre would be out of their price range; under Frank McCourt, the 5-year, $80 million deal Beltre ultimately signed with Texas certainly qualified as “expensive.”

So they bit on Uribe. The next-best third baseman in that free agent class was either Miguel Tejada or Bill Hall, depending on your point of view. Neither player finished last season in the majors. Hall (-1.5) and Tejada (0.5) actually have fewer Wins Above Replacement, per baseball-reference.com, from 2011-13 than Uribe (3.7). That statistic is a little misleading, since Uribe had -0.4 WAR from 2011-12, and 4.1 WAR last season. Here’s why:

Juan  Uribe spray chart

Those spray charts are courtesy of FanGraphs’ new interactive spray chart tool, which I plan on using way too much from now on. (For all its limits compared to the tools offered for a price by Bloomberg, and to ESPN employees by ESPN, you can lose an entire afternoon playing with FanGraphs’ new toy.)

The chart on the left shows where Uribe hit the ball in 2012. On the right, 2013. The quick takeaway: Uribe re-discovered his power stroke last year, particularly his pull stroke, and probably hit the ball harder too. At least that’s one way to explain Uribe’s uptick in line drives and ground balls that got through the infield.

Optimistically, pairing Uribe with hitting coach Mark McGwire for another season (or three) could lead to similar results. Pessimistically, 2013 was a fluke and Uribe — who turns 35 next July — can be expected to regress to more 2012-like levels at some point during a three-year contract.

In the midst of another thin free agent market, how optimistic are the Dodgers feeling about Uribe internally? We could find out soon.

Some bullet points for a World Toilet Day:
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Which players might the Dodgers pursue in free agency?

Masahiro Tanaka

Soon-to-be free agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t lost a decision since Aug. 2012 and will pitch Game 6 of the Japan Series on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Yesterday, we analyzed the Dodgers’ 12 in-house free agents. Don’t be surprised if only a few players out of that group return — say, four or less. Signing 26-year-old infielder Alexander Guerrero was the first indication that the Dodgers are serious about getting younger. All of their in-house free agents are more than 30 years old. So are all of the players on this list, with one outstanding exception at the top.

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Report: Dodgers offered Clayton Kershaw contract close to $300 million.

Clayton  Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is expected to sign the richest contract by a pitcher in major-league history. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

The Dodgers offered Clayton Kershaw a contract in the range of $300 million earlier this season, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney.

That’s the highest dollar amount associated with the contract in any report this season. USA Today suggested earlier this month that Kershaw, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility, could be in line to make more than $220 million over the life of the deal.

Olney reported that Kershaw balked at the scope of the contract and might seek a deal “perhaps more conservative in length.” Even if the actual amount of dollars and years are slightly less — 10 years would match Alex Rodriguez‘s contract, which Olney used as a comparison — it would make a prophet of Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson, who said earlier this month: “This young man is going to get paid.”
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