Dodgers Grab Winter Meeting Headlines

Jimmy Rollins at bat against the Washington Nationals.

Jimmy Rollins at bat against the Washington Nationals.

I was skeptical of the Dodgers trade for Jimmy Rollins. He’s still a solid defender, and if he’s not the Gold Glove winner he was just a few years ago, he’ll certainly look like the second coming of Pee Wee Reese compared to Hanley Ramirez at shortstop. Even at 36-years old next season.

I was more surprised to see Ruben Amaro realize that it’s time to put away the well-loved photo albums from three years ago and start over. Rollins was an easy trade. He openly clashed with Ryne Sandberg out of spring training, and if by September everything was puppies and rainbows between the two men, Rollins still missed 19 games with a hamstring strain, perhaps showing signs of being, well, mid-30s.

Don’t stop there. Jonathan Papelbon is 34; Marlon Byrd is 37; and Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, and Carlos Ruiz will play 2015 at 36. Oh, and here’s the obligatory Ryan Howard is 35 and still expensive and no one will trade for him mention. These are guys who could fill out a lineup for a contender, not toiling away in last place in a division that should be more competitive. The Nationals are still the team to beat, but the Mets and Marlins will at least make it interesting. The Phillies aren’t in that mix. Not now. It’s a sad day to see a team that’s better suited to take on the Springfield softball team than a Major League one. I was looking forward to another season of trade rumors and delusional Amaro jokes.

So, no big deal. The Dodgers essentially added an upgrade over the No-man that was not manning short presently, but it wasn’t exactly a game-changer. They were just getting older. They added an aging shortstop to a collection of unhappy outfielders who were fragile and openly complaining about playing time. Before the season even started. Oy! Well, at least they’d make good theater.

Then those crafty Dodgers went and traded Dee Gordon and Dan Haren, received Howie Kendrick from the Angels, and signed Brandon McCarthy to a 4-year/48 million dollar contract, all huge wins.

The Dodgers lose about five years in age between Kendrick and Gordon, but if anyone believes Gordon is hitting .289 again next season they’re flipping through the same memory books as Amaro. While he did lead the Majors in triples last season, Gordon is largely a singles hitter who was lucky with a high BABIP. His BB% of 4.8 was also second lowest in the Majors for second basemen, behind only Ian Kinsler. For a guy who stole 64 bases last season, Gordon’s 101 wRC+ was shockingly barely over league average.

A year of Kendrick over Gordon? Sign me up. There’s an extra win or two right there, and the Dodgers are on the hook for one year in case he turns into Chone Figgins once leaving Anaheim. So, GM Farhan Zaidi and Andrew Friedman get a season to see if their new old infield has the right combination of creaky joints and accumulated wisdom to get them past the NLDS. Stock up on plenty of Osteo Bi-Flex or spike the Gatorade with glucosamine and the Dodgers should win the West at least.

I thought McCarthy was a solid deal on 2-years and 20 million, but with Jason Hammel signing that same deal with the Cubs, McCarthy suddenly became more expensive. 4-years and 48 million is reasonable in a per year salary, but I doubt if the Dodgers get four years of service out of McCarthy. At 3/48, this deal is still reasonable, though, if McCarthy pitches like he did with the Yankees last season. A return to the NL should see his numbers boosted, and regardless, it’s an upgrade over Haren.

Thank you, Zaidi and Friedman for making Wednesday night fun. Don’t pop the champagne just yet, but with the busy day they just had, the Dodgers added a good 3-4 wins. With the rumors of a possible Matt Kemp trade for the Padres Yasmani Grandal, they don’t appear to be done either.

Talk about making a list and checking it twice:

  • Need a shortstop: check
  • Upgrade at second: check
  • Upgrade rotation with a replacement for Zack Greinke (if opts out): check
  • Too many outfielders: TBA
  • Upgrade catcher: TBA

Jimmy Rollins photo credit: Matthew Straubmuller via photopin cc

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