Dodgers wasting little time forging a new identity

SAN DIEGO – The Los Angeles Dodgers had themselves a day, their new management beginning to turn Ned Colletti’s version of a 94-win team into Andrew Friedman’s vision of a, well, 94-or-so-win team.

Over a long Wednesday, Friedman and Co. revealed the scope of their intended changes would not be limited to loosening the outfield bottleneck, though that’s still part of it, too.

Andrew Friedman is intent on turning the Dodgers into his type of team. (USA TODAY Sports)
Andrew Friedman is intent on turning the Dodgers into his type of team. (USA TODAY Sports)

Amid speculation Matt Kemp could be the odd man dealt (reports early Thursday say a deal with the Padres was reached), perhaps because the Dodgers are finding he is the odd outfielder (beyond Yasiel Puig) with any real value, Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, fashioned his first significant – and somewhat complicated – trades, assuming they become official.

Nearing the end of the day, and hours after news began to leak that, first, something big was coming, then that Jimmy Rollins was going to L.A., and so was Howie Kendrick, then that Dee Gordon and Dan Haren were headed to Miami, and then that the two trades might have some overlap, and then they might set up Cole Hamels also being traded in order to unburden the Philadelphia Phillies, and then that maybe this greases Kemp to San Diego, and by the way they would reportedly sign Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal (according to Fox Sports), what was understood was the new Dodgers leaders would not be satisfied with subtleties. They’d brought with them sledgehammers.

Yes, in about the time it took to play a doubleheader, the Dodgers would appear to have forged trades with the Phillies (Rollins), Angels (Kendrick) and the Marlins (for, in part, the prospects to pay for Rollins and Kendrick) and signed a mid-level starting pitcher, and it’s possible we’re leaving something out.

Friedman means to make large – if not sweeping – changes to a roster that pulled a $230 million payroll, that struggled under the burden of a fractured clubhouse, that washed out in the division series before its time. And yet won 94 games.

How desperate the Dodgers seemed to complete their trade with the Marlins. For Gordon and Haren, the Dodgers were to receive two well-regarded prospects – lefty Andrew Heaney (who was flipped to the Angels for Kendrick) and catcher Austin Barnes – and two others. The Dodgers also, according to the Miami Herald, agreed to pay all of Haren’s $10 million salary and whatever Gordon makes in arbitration. Oh, and the 34-year-old Haren, a Southern California guy, in the past has threatened to retire if he were forced to play anywhere but in L.A. or Anaheim. The Dodgers reportedly will give the Marlins $10 million whether Haren pitches or not. It appears they will call Haren’s bluff.

To recap, the Dodgers gave their starting second baseman and their (somewhat reluctant) No. 5 starter and something like $13 million to the Marlins for four minor leaguers, two of which scouts seem to like. (And it sort of looks like the Marlins, who just gave a single player $325 million, are now in the business of selling off prospects, which feels weird and, granted, Marlins-ish.)

Brandon McCarthy is reportedly the latest Dodgers acquisition. (Getty)
Brandon McCarthy is reportedly the latest Dodgers acquisition. (Getty)

Then, the Dodgers were to ship a couple of minor leaguers to the Phillies for Rollins, who is 36 and still plays a good shortstop, unlike the guy he replaced – Hanley Ramirez – who is 30 and will be playing left field for the Boston Red Sox.

That’s where it stands now. It could change. While it seems likely both trades will find their way through the commissioner’s office, there are missing pieces. Apparently, the Phillies will cover some of Rollins’ salary ($11 million in 2015), but the players the Phillies would get in return – presumably one or two from the Dodgers’ take from the Marlins would be included – was unclear.

Regardless, the day told us a little more about Friedman, how he feels about the roster from one to 40, and how he aims to change it. Rollins notwithstanding, the Dodgers are going to get younger. The roster will get more flexible. If Kemp were the next to go, it would seem obvious that pitching and defense will be the priorities, even if Kemp were to bring an offensive upgrade (say, Yasmani Grandal) at catcher. In the places where they do get older – shortstop, for one – the contractual commitments will be short. Money, too, remains no object. As currently constructed, the trade will have the Dodgers paying two players to play for somebody else. And they are loading up on prospects, which could look very attractive to the Phillies, who could move Utley or Hamels, or the Cincinnati Reds, who could move Mat Latos or Johnny Cueto or Mike Leake, or even the Washington Nationals, who could move Jordan Zimmermann. Meantime, they spend on McCarthy, who takes the Haren spot.

No, Friedman will not go softly into his new job. He will not be blinded by anyone’s 94 wins. He’ll go get his 94 wins his way.

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