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Andrew Friedman and the Looming Free Agency

Today marks the day that AF/BG can begin negotiations with Shohei Ohtani and the other FA.  I would love to be in the room with the owners as they advise AF what he can spend when it comes to Ohtani.  If there is a player who can increase the value of the organization, and their investment more than the projected cost, it is the unicorn Shohei Ohtani.  But that has to be a singular component to free agency that does not have any impact on the search for elite talent otherwise.  Whatever Ohtani costs, the organization will recoup it in value increase.  Hopefully it will also translate into more wins, but make no mistake, Ohtani will be a business decision, not a baseball decision.  For that reason, I do believe there is a chance that AF will finally win a FA bid (not named Bauer).  Freddie does not count, because there were not many teams that were bidding for him after the CBA was signed.

To the best of my knowledge (and research), below is as close to as a cumulative listing of Free Agents signed by LAD during the AF era.  It is possible that I have missed some, but nobody significant (I think).  It also does not include players who signed MiLB contracts and reached MLB and impacted the Dodgers.  Two off the top of my head are RHRP Brandon Morrow and OF Jason Heyward.  I did not spend a lot of time (okay extremely little time) on researching free agents who signed MiLB contracts.  If anyone thinks this is a worthwhile endeavor, be my guest.

If anyone has any names that I have missed, please let me know so I can include it into my database.

2014-2015

  • 12-11-2014 – RHSP – Brandon McCarthy, 4 years $48MM
  • 12-31-2014 – LHSP – Brett Anderson, 1 year $10MM
  • 02-21-2015 – RHRP – Brandon Beachy – 1 year $2.75MM

 

2015-2016

  • 11-13-2015 – LHSP – Brett Anderson accepted QO
  • 12-09-2015 – 2B – Chase Utley, 1 year $7MM
  • 12-30-2015 – LHSP – Scott Kazmir, 3 years $48MM
  • 01-09-2016 – RHSP – Kenta Maeda, 8 years $25MM ++++Incentives
  • 01-19-2016 – RHRP – Joe Blanton, 1 year $4MM
  • 02-04-2016 – 2B – Howie Kendrick, 2 years $20MM
  • 02-19-2016 – RHRP – Luis Coleman, 1 year $750K
  • 02-21-2016 – RHRP – Yaisel Sierra, 6 years $30MM

 

2016-2017

  • 12-05-2016 – LHSP – Rich Hill re-signed, 3 years $48MM
  • 12-23-2016 – 3B – Justin Turner re-signed, 4 years $64MM
  • 01-10-2017 – RHRP – Kenley Jansen re-signed, 5 years $80MM
  • 02-11-2017 – 2B – Chase Utley re-signed, 1 year $2MM
  • 02-15-2017 – RHRP – Sergio Romo, 1 year $3MM

 

2017-2018

  • 12-20-2017 – RHRP – Tom Koehler, 1 year $2MM
  • 02-13-2018 – 2B – Chase Utley re-signed, 2 years $2MM

 

2018-2019

  • 11-02-2018 – LHSP – Clayton Kershaw re-signed, 3 years $93MM
  • 11-12-2018 – LHSP – Hyun-jin Ryu accepted QO
  • 12-21-2018 – RHRP – Joe Kelly, 3 years $25MM
  • 01-26-2019 – OF – AJ Pollock, 5 years $60MM

 

2019-2020

  • 12-15-2019 – RHRP – Blake Treinen, 1 year $10MM
  • 01-15-2020 – LHSP – Alex Wood, 1 year $4MM
  • 01-18-2020 – RHRP – Jimmy Nelson, 1 year $1.25MM
  • 07-21-2020 – LHRP – Jake McGee, 1 year minimum (Balance paid by Colorado)

 

2020-2021

  • 12-29-2020 – RHRP – Tommy Kahnle, 2 years $5.25MM
  • 01-05-2021 – RHRP – Blake Treinen re-signed, 2 years $17.5MM
  • 02-05-2021 – RHSP – Trevor Bauer, 3 years $102MM
  • 02-13-2021 – 3B – Justin Turner re-signed, 2 years $34MM

 

2021-2022

  • 11-10-2021 – LHSP – Andrew Heaney, 1 year $8.5MM
  • 11-29-2021 – RHRP – Daniel Hudson, 1 year $7MM
  • 03-13-2022 – LHSP – Clayton Kershaw re-signed, 1 year $17MM
  • 03-17-2022 – RHRP – Jimmy Nelson re-signed, 1 year $700K
  • 03-18-2022 – 1B – Freddie Freeman, 6 years $162MM
  • 03-18-2022 – LHSP – Tyler Anderson, 1 year $8.0MM
  • 03-22-2022 – RHRP – Blake Treinen club option exercised, 1 year $8MM
  • 03-23-2022 – INF – Hanser Alberto, 1 year $1.6MM

 

2022-2023

  • 09-22-2022 – RHRP – Daniel Hudson club option exercised, 1 year $6.5MM
  • 11-29-2022 – RHRP – Shelby Miller, 1 year $1.5MM
  • 12-05-2022 – LHSP – Clayton Kershaw re-signed, 1 year $20MM
  • 12-14-2022 – RHSP – Noah Syndergaard, 1 year $13MM
  • 12-30-2022 – DH – JD Martinez, 1 year $10MM
  • 02-10-2023 – OF – David Peralta, 1 year $6.5MM
  • 02-11-2023 – RHRP – Alex Reyes, 1 year $1.3MM
  • 02-15-2023 – RHRP – Jimmy Nelson re-signed, 1 year $1.2MM

 

The largest contracts in terms of $$$ is:

  1. Freddie Freeman – 6 years $162MM
  2. Trevor Bauer – 3 years $102MM
  3. Clayton Kershaw – 3 years $93MM
  4. Kenley Jansen – 5 years $80MM
  5. Justin Turner – 4 years $64MM
  6. AJ Pollock – 5 years $60MM

 

Over the last three years AF has signed 20 players for a cumulative free agent cost of $431.55MM.  2020-2021 ($158.75MM), 2021-2022 ($212.80MM), 2022-2023 ($60MM).

The current payroll estimate is $155MM, with the CBT threshold at $237MM.

AF says that he is going to “aggressively” pursue starting pitching.  Nowhere did he say he was going to sign elite pitching north of $100MM.  He also did not intimate what aggressively pursue means.   That does not mean he will not alter his MO.  AF tries to minimize risk in every deal from a financial standpoint for starting pitching; with the one exception, Trevor Bauer.

 

Maybe AF believes that signing Andrew Heaney, Tyler Anderson, and Noah Syndergaard to one year deals totaling $29.5MM was aggressively pursuing SP.

While AF was lamenting the sorry state of his team’s starting pitching, he commented about pitchers able to go 6.0 to 7.0 IP in the playoffs.

“The question is, how many of them are there on planet Earth?” 

“There aren’t too many guys going six or seven in postseason games, anecdotally, as I look around,” Friedman said.

Maybe he should have looked around a little more:

  • Nathan Eovaldi – 6 starts, 5 starts 6.0 IP or more
  • Jordan Montgomery – 6 starts, 3 starts 6.0 IP or more
  • Zac Gallen – 6 starts, 3 starts 6.0 IP or more
  • Zack Wheeler – 5 starts, 4 starts 6.0 IP or more
  • Aaron Nola – 4 starts, 2 starts 6.0 IP or more
  • Merrill Kelly – 4 starts, 2 starts 6.0 IP or more (all 4 5.0 IP or more)
  • Justin Verlander – 3 starts, 2 starts 6.0 IP or more (other 5.2 IP)
  • Spencer Strider – 2 starts, 1 start 6.0 IP or more (other 5.2 IP)

The Dodgers had 3 starting pitchers total 4.2 IP in total.

“I prefer that personally for a starting pitcher to take the ball and do that,” Friedman said.

 “There’s just fewer and fewer of them every year, so therefore the supply is more limited. It’s just harder to access.”

Well there were three that AF could have had.  Nathan Eovaldi was passed over for Noah Syndergaard.  JV was too expensive.  And I have no idea why AF could not acquire Jordan Montgomery either at the 2022 or 2023 deadline.  He really was not that expensive for either trade.

Choose wisely!

AF has readily admitted “I didn’t do a good enough job.”   I do not think he will be getting a lot of fans disagreeing with that comment.  Now he has to do better.  The first thing he can do is forget the notion that top of the rotation pitchers cannot go 6.0 IP or more in the playoffs.  Maybe the Dodgers SP.  But when your geeks tell you that your pitchers should not go through the lineup a 3rd time, you will be right…they will not go 6.0 IP.

Maybe you could begin with letting your MiLB pitchers get through the lineup 3 times and let them pitch more than 70 pitches.  You are right that the SP will not go 6.0 or 7.0 in the postseason if you will not let them stretch out even in MiLB.

Admittedly, that was not the issue this year.  The pitching was just awful.  But it is the mindset that pitchers have to be limited in IP that has to be changed.

“We’ll certainly be focused on starting pitching for sure,” AF said. “And it’s how to balance the young guys … with Walker Buehler coming back, and then the market, whether it’s through trade or free agency.”

IMO, Bobby Miller is the only young gun that can be considered top of the rotation material.  Walker Buehler was there, but he needs to prove he can get back there.  The sample size is way to small for Ryan Pepiot and Emmet Sheehan, but they should probably be considered back of the rotation pitchers until they can be trusted.

AF needs 2 front line top of the rotation SP.  3 would be better.  There are multiple FA pitchers that are available.

  • Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Wasserman)
  • Blake Snell (Boras)
  • Jordan Montgomery (Boras)
  • Aaron Nola (Paragon)
  • Sonny Gray (Bo McKinnis)

Andrew, these guys are going to cost.  A LOT.  Looking at your history, none of these five will be signed by LAD.  If you need to do better…start here.

But I fear, it is the next level that you will most be negotiating with:

  • Shōta Imanaga(Octagon)
  • Lucas Giolito (CAA)
  • Seth Lugo (Ballengee)
  • Jack Flaherty (CAA)
  • James Paxton (Boras)

BTW, I left off Eduardo Rodriguez.  He spurned LAD at the deadline.  He does not deserve to be a Dodger.

Also, please don’t wait until the trade deadline to acquire top of the rotation pitchers via trade.  You will need to spend some of that precious prospect capital, but if you can acquire 1 Ace for 2 mid to back end prospects, you have to make that deal.  How many Ross Stripling’s and Mitch White’s do you need before you realize that prospects do not always make it to the top.

When asked what has to be done to stop the carousel of bad Divisional Series, he noted,

“We need to figure out what we can do differently and how to go about it.” 

 “There is an element that is October theater.”

 “I do think that there’s good fortune that plays in … [but] we didn’t hold a lead in this division series,” he said.

 “For a team this talented to play 27 innings where we do not hold a lead is beyond that … it’s something we have to figure out and do what we can to put ourselves in a position to not have that happen.”

Maybe AF does not agree that it is just a crapshoot.  If he did, then he would not be lamenting the back to back NLDS disastrous dismissals as he seems to be.

Andrew, take a look at the top 5 FA pitchers and get two of them.  That is a start.  But if you settle for Lucas Giolito or Jack Flaherty then you are setting yourself up for more of the same.

We can and will get into prospective trades as we continue on into the Hot Stove League.

AF, you said you need to get better…we agree.  Change your mindset and FA approach, and you just might get there.

 

 

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Bluto

“The Dodgers are lining up to be a landing spot for Japanese star left-handed pitcher Shōta Imanaga”, per @Feinsand. Shōta posted a 2.66 ERA with an impressive 29.5 K% for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars of the NPB. He’d be a really nice pickup and come a lot cheaper than Yamamoto.

Dionysus

Good place. I like the fact he’s a lefty too. We went from all lefties to none.

Jeff

For me, this is the achilles heel of AF and the metricians he has hired. He is rather terrible at acquiring pitchers making many bad choices.

Badger

“There aren’t many pitchers going 6-7 innings”. AF. Technically, he isn’t wrong about that. There were 12 teams in the post season, each with 3-4 starting pitchers lined up for a post season run. That’s 36-48 pitchers looking for an opportunity. 8 of them accomplished 6-7 innings. That’s a few, but it isn’t many. But, point taken. There weren’t any on the Dodgers.

How many free agent pitchers available over the last few years are proven aces? Not very many. Our staff was set up 1-5 when the season started, the only addition was a #5 reclamation candidate. It melted down rather quickly. The lineup at the start of the season was pretty much set. The point being the Dodgers didn’t need that much and that is reflected in who they signed last winter.

It is vastly different this year. Would love to have Ohtani, but we need pitching I have suggested signing Ohtani might influence other players to come here. But my gut tells me most MLB players are motivated only by money. If they aren’t their agents assuredly are.

No Gold Gloves. Not really surprising. There are a few Dodgers mentioned for Silver Slugger. I believe Mookie has a shot.

Dave

It’s hard to judge what AF might do based on what he says. Remember he said he wasn’t aware of any pending surgeries for the offseason, then Peralta and Kershaw both have surgery and he most definitely knew about those.
Jeff has pointed out many times what AF has done and how he operates. And sadly that makes getting the best FA unlikely. It appears AF doesn’t have confidence in pitchers’ ability to last so he buys low hoping to luck out and get rebound results.

tedraymond

Jeff, very informative articles the last two days. I agree with you in that AF should sign three FA starters and go to a six man rotation. With the extra rest, this might encourage the team to allow the starters to go more than six innings. It could help them sign a Japanese pitcher or two in that they only pitch once a week in Japan.

It looks like a desperate team like SF will be joining the Mets in driving up the prices for starting pitching. We have plenty of money available to play this offseason. But, with the crazy prices thrown around for Ohtani and Yamamoto I can’t see the Dodgers making a hard push for these two.

From the choices listed yesterday I would like them to sign Imanaga, Montgomery, Giolito or Flaherty. Two LHP would be ideal. Giolito or Flaherty could be AF’s reclamation signings for 2024.
So, maybe this as a six man starting rotation:

Imanaga
Montgomery
Buehler
Miller
Sheehan
Giolito/Flaherty

I would pass on Kershaw. He’s surprisingly effective when he does pitch in the regular season. But, he has breakdowns during the season and of course poor showings in the postseason. I know there are no guarantees with injuries, but with the above rotation it might increase the chances of a more healthy (six man rotation) and effective staff.

The Dodgers should allow their MiLB pitching prospects to pitch more innings. They’ve done it through high school/college so why not after becoming a professional? With today’s training, nutrition, and coaching I don’t get the lack of opportunity to do so. I know it’s all about the computers and the resulting analytics, but try watching what is going on in the field. Like Bruce Botchy when he allows Josh Sborz to pitch 2 1/3 innings to close out the world series for the Rangers. Really, Josh “frickin” Sborz??? There’s no way in hell Roberts would allowed that to happen. Just sayin’

Carry on

Badger

Where’s Pepiot?

I’m fine with adding pitching and you know I’ve been pushing a 6 man rotation, which they kinda had with 17 pitchers starting games last year, though many of those were desperation bullpen games or who tf do we start tomorrow, I don’t know, how about this guy situations.

I’ve run the numbers, with my own developed algorithm, and, everything remaining closely the same as this year, with the addition of Ohtani, Imanaga, Flaherty and Giolito the Dodgers win the West, but not by 16 games so they will be in a pennant race for most of September. I’ve also set up bi-weekly sessions with a Sports Psychologist for Betts and Freeman so they won’t swallow olives next October.

With all that work done, I’m exhausted, we are ready to go come February. Oh, almost forgot, I’ve also extended an invitation to Kershaw to hang out with the gang on a very friendly team contract until he’s ready to pitch sometime late next September.

Play ball! Football and basketball that is. Baseball is over.

Hey Jeff, Grinch be gone! Any comments?

Last edited 5 months ago by Badger
Badger

I played in a 4-4 defensive alignment in college (OLB) and shooting gaps and disguised blitz’ was just about all we did, especially against the larger o-lines. That probably wouldn’t work now because of all the passing but I get what you’re saying and I agree. Fill lanes with clean bodies. But SC’s lack of tackling fundamentals can’t be fixed in two games. They will have to start over with that in Spring practice.

This is good news for USC fans. If the in-house replacements don’t fit, that program should be able to hire somebody who can recruit.

tedraymond

Ooops! Slide him for Sheehan for sure. Thanks for pointing that out. Sheehan to the BP as a long man and spot starter. It should give him the exposure to MLB hitters without the Dodgers relying on him as a rotation piece right now.

Badger

I think that’s a good plan Ted. His stuff plays well for 30-45 pitches

Jeff

Pepiot, not Giolito/Flahertyy.

RC Dodger

Great article Jeff!
Today the Dodgers must decide whether to give JD Martinez the qualifying offer of $20.3 million. I suspect they will not give JDM the QO with Ohtani still in play. Also, Dodgers have viable internal DH candidates in Muncy, Smith(on off days), Busch, and Vargas.
Friedman’s lack of aggressiveness with free agents is rationale and reasonable. It allows him to build depth in his roster that succeeds in the regular season. But it hampers the teams ability to excel in the postseason with top pitchers and hitters who can handle #1 starters. He also has not helped the team much at the last two trade deadlines when they were clearly headed to the playoffs.
I give Friedman a little leeway last offseason, because his top 7 starting pitchers at the beginning of the year were all hurt or unavailable for the playoffs. That is an unprecedented loss of pitching. Urias, Kershaw, May, Gonsolin, Syndergard, Buehler, and Pepiot for most of the year. AF still should have added more pitching at the trade deadline, and choosing Noah over Eovaldi was an error, but it is tough to prepare for this severe of a pitching loss.
And still the Dodgers won 100 games, despite the pitching problems. The team ERA was 4.06 in 2023 compared to 2.80 in 2022. The offense in 2023 actually scored more runs than in 2022, despite losing Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Trayce Thompson(who was good in 2022).
Given the pitching issues last year, I would expect Friedman to focus almost entirely on adding pitching this offseason. While Ohtani is the jewel of the free agents, he will surely not help the pitching this year and maybe not in 2025 either. After his last TJ in OCT 2018, he didn’t pitch in 2019 and only 2 innings in 2020. Even his hitting was not as good in the two years after TJ. Maybe from a business standpoint, Ohtani at $500 million works, but probably not from a purely baseball standpoint and DH is not the priority this year.

Bumsrap

Ohtani needs to either pitch or play a position to justify all the money being thrown around. He can’t in 2024.

I think I like the idea of using a piggyback system for two or more of the rotation spots versus a 6 man rotation because of the trend to pull a pitcher after two times through the opposing team’s batting order. However, if they were to pick up two Japanese starters then I would go with a 6 man rotation.

I like Pepiot, Sheehan, and Miller. The Dodgers might have a good idea of what Buehler can do and we might get a peek into that knowledge when we see how aggressive they are in signing pitchers and specifically which pitchers.

I like Stone and Grove as either trade candidates or as a piggyback team.

Bumsrap

Once the value of the Dodgers hit $6B does it stay there after Ohtani retires? If so, what would have to happen? What goes into a team’s evaluation? I can guess and would probably get a lot right but I have never seen how those evaluations are made.

Badger

You’re the CPA, so you would be better suited (I never wore a suit to work) to answer this question:

How the hell did Frankie No Nickels walk away with $2 billion AND the parking lots?

Badger

That’s true. Limited partners are no doubt happy as well. And your recent explanation of how Ohtani’s presence increases organizational value is in my opinion spot on.

Bluto

As far as rumors go that’s both juicy and enticing!

Wouldn’t be the worst turn of events.

He’s going to the Cubbies though. Heyman adds, “Craig Counsell’s Cubs deal is the largest managerial salary in history by average salary”

Last edited 5 months ago by Bluto
Jeff

Counsell’s got a sour face.

Last edited 5 months ago by Jeff
Fred Vogel

Signed with the Cubbies.

Bluto

Longtime readers of this blog will note that I for once got something right.

I had both Mendoza and Counsell on my list of desired managers:

40 Man Under Construction

OhioDodger

Wow. Cubs kick Ross to the curb. I thought he did a good job.

Singing the Blue

I doubt Counsell went to the Cubs just because they gave him the most money. I’m sure they also promised him they’d be heavily involved in the free agent derby this winter.

More competition for Ohtani and Yamamoto, both of whom they could certainly use.

It should be fun to see the “welcome” Counsell gets on his first trip to Milwaukee next season. It’s one thing to leave, but to go to their biggest rival?

Singing the Blue

It also seems to me that if Counsell had stayed they would have had to promise him to be competitive. With his leaving, I think the odds are greater that they move some prime assets (Burnes, Adames) and reset.

I don’t agree with those who assume that in order to get Burnes, a team would have to take Yelich. I think the prospect price would be a lot higher but the Brewers might prefer prospects to dumping Yelich.

As long as I’m sticking my neck out here, I think the odds we get Burnes are more likely than getting Ohtani.

Bumsrap

Do you want Burnes on condition that he signs an extension first?

Singing the Blue

Things don’t seem to work that way anymore. I can’t remember the last time an extension was negotiated before a trade was finalized. Maybe my memory is just failing.

So yes, that would certainly be preferred but I’d try to do the trade anyway if it couldn’t be accomplished. He’s from Bakersfield, so we might have a leg up once he reached free agency (assuming AF was willing to pay the going rate).

Badger

The media markets ranking in size have NY, LA, Chicago as the top 3. I’m sure Ohtani would love to hit in that Chicago ballpark, but I still think he prefers the West Coast. SF and Seattle are down that media list. I still believe the best fit for Shohei is LA, and I don’t think it’s that close.

Last edited 5 months ago by Badger
Singing the Blue

Why do you think LA is a better fit than Seattle? He’s spent time in Seattle during the off-season and says he loves it there.

SF may very well offer the most money but I think they’re still a long way from being competitive every year.

Adding Shohei to the Mariner roster makes them very strong.

Badger

I couldn’t have said it better Jeff.

As for what he wants? The stars line up in LA. Close the deal Andrew.

Singing the Blue

Yeah, but Seattle is about 1200 km closer to Ohtani’s home prefecture in Japan than LA is. So there!

Last edited 5 months ago by Singing the Blue
Bumsrap

If the Dodgers sign Ohtani, can I trade Muncy and if not are you going to put him back on 3rd?

Betts, Freeman, Witt, Ohtani, Smith, Outman, ?, ?, ?

Badger

I already traded Muncy to the Yankees for their top pitching prospect. I forget who that is, but he’s really good.

Bluto

Why shouldn’t/couldn’t he have gone for the money?

Bluto

Mets initial bid for Counsell was significantly lower as @NYPost_Mets
said. But it didn’t matter in the end. He wanted to go to the Cubs and wasn’t about to have the Mets keep bidding when Cubs were preferred. (Plus, Mets weren’t intending to go that record level anyway)

Bobby

STB, there’s step 1 of your theory!

Singing the Blue

Wow, that was fast. Earlier reports thought this would happen toward end November. Now everyone can negotiate with Ohtani and Yamamoto at the same time. That should be fun.

Bobby

Not sure if anyone saw this article today in the LA Times re the Dodgers and the next wave of Japanese stars:

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2023-11-06/dodgers-japanese-star-shohei-ohtani-roki-sasaki

Singing the Blue

As good as Yamamoto is, Sasaki is supposed to be even better.
I can’t access the article so maybe I’m just repeating what they are saying.

I think Sasaki has an agreement with his team that he won’t be posted until 2026, so I’m in favor of going strongly after Yamamoto and we can cross the Sasaki bridge when we come to it.

Oldbear48

Three new managers today. Councell surprisingly jumps to the Cubs for 8 mil a year. Ross was relieved of his duties just prior to the announcement. Mets hired the Yankees bench coach, Mendoza. Guardians, I am still not used to that, hired Stephen Vogt, who just retired last year and is 39 years old. Snell, Hader, Nola, Ohtani, Gray, Bellinger, and Chapman, all got the 20.35 QO from their teams. Other than Ohtani, I doubt the Dodgers chase any of the others. They hate giving up draft picks.

Dionysus

Is a reference to the looming tower?

Bumsrap

Will Ohtani hit 60 home runs next year? Less likely in SF.

Singing the Blue

I wonder how many he might hit into McCovey/Muncy Cove?
I hear Madbum has bought himself a rowboat so he can go get them all out of the bay.

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