The Dodgers have been pretty quiet this offseason. The fan base is getting antsy, and it’s hard to blame it completely. But there’s a big difference in spending money wisely and foolishly.
Money spent wisely this winter by teams include the Cubs signing Jason Heyward and John Lackey, Cleveland taking a $7 million flyer on Mike Napoli and the Mets giving Asdrubal Cabrera a fair 2-year deal.
Money spent foolishly by teams include the Diamondbacks giving Zack Greinke $206.5 million (no matter how good he is), the Blue Jays signing J.A. Happ to a long-term deal and now the newest signing: The Cardinals giving Mike Leake five years and $80 million. Not only that, there is an option year that could push the value of the deal to $93-94 million. And if that weren’t enough, there’s full no-trade clause.
Did you want that? I sure as hell didn’t. The Cardinals seemingly made a panic signing after losing Lance Lynn, missing out on David Price and don’t know about Carlos Martinez‘s shoulder. The Dodgers’ offseason looks much better by comparison, mostly because they didn’t give Leake a 5-year deal.
The Dodgers are not done this offseason. They might not make the big move to get Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray or even Carlos Carrasco. I’m reasonably confident there will be a couple more moves, and one of them should net a pitcher (maybe Jake Odorizzi, as I looked at yesterday). They could also look at signing Kenta Maeda, who I’d be much more willing to give the Mike Leake contract than Mike Leake. Despite the lack of additions, the team is still set up to compete in 2016.
The offense should improve with a healthy Yasiel Puig and Yasmani Grandal, as well as a (hopefully) improved Joc Pederson (work your magic, Turner Ward) and a full season of Corey Seager. The rotation has some options after Clayton Kershaw. The biggest “if” is if Hyun-jin Ryu can get back to where he was. Brandon McCarthy will be back midseason and Brett Anderson is pitching for a big payday come 2017. There are also young arms like Jharel Cotton and Jose De Leon who could (and probably should) help out sooner rather than later. And the bullpen is just fine as it stands.
The Dodgers don’t need to spend $300 million to be competitive. They’re already competitive. The offseason isn’t over yet and trades are allowed to be made, believe it or not. The Dodgers are going to be just fine.
Before anyone jumps in, no, this is not a front-office fluff piece. This is reality. I’d be shocked if the Dodgers’ payroll ever touched $300 million again — that is, until they sign Fernandez, Bryce Harper and re-sign Kershaw in winter 2018. There are ways to win without spending a third-of-a-billion dollars, and this front office will figure out a way to do just that.