Tag: Los Angeles

MLB Trade Rumors: Buzz Surrounding Aroldis Chapman and Top Players Available

The MLB hot stove continues to simmer well after the winter meetings ended Wednesday. 

The free-agent market continues to remain fluid—apropos the Chicago Cubs’ splash signing of Jason Heyward on Friday—though teams continue trade talks with plenty of potential moves that could continue to shift the competitive landscape. 

Here is a look at the latest buzz heading into the post-meetings weekend. 


Despite investigation, Reds still trying to trade Aroldis Chapman

The Cincinnati Reds’ trade of closer Aroldis Chapman with the Los Angeles Dodgers was a done deal until news surfaced that the hard-hurling lefty had been involved in a domestic violence incident that prompted MLB to launch an investigation into the incident. 

The Dodgers have since moved on and are now pursuing other options, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, leaving the Reds in possession of damaged goods—with a possible suspension looming. 

Yet despite MLB’s probe, teams are still in contact with the Reds about a possible deal, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports:

One reason: A lengthy suspension could result in an extra year of team control over Chapman, who currently is on track to accrue the necessary six years of service by the end of the 2016 season.

No trade is close, but clubs are allowed to pursue Chapman while he is under investigation, sources say.

Chapman is among the game’s best closers, but the Reds are desperate to rid themselves of the four-time All-Star, as he has just one year remaining on his current deal and will likely command a figure well out of their price range next winter.

However, that’s if he reaches sufficient service time, which is 138 days this season on an active roster or disabled list, per Rosenthal and Morosi. MLB would not credit him time under a suspension for domestic violence. 

Cincinnati was in a similar situation last year with the looming departure of ace Johnny Cueto, who remains on the market and has rejected a deal of $120 million—well outside the Reds’ budget—from the Arizona Diamondbacks, per Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.

The Reds would get less from a trade for Chapman at this juncture, but as Rosenthal and Morosi noted, “They might be so motivated to move him, however, that they would accept a lesser return.”


Rockies listening to calls on outfielders

The Colorado Rockies have long been trying to deal powerful outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, but they have also been fielding calls for Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.

Crasnick noted the Kansas City Royals are in the market for outfielders with both Alex Gordon and Alex Rios on the free-agent market, and Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star noted Gordon’s return appears doubtful:

Joel Wagler of FanSided made a case for why the defending champions should make a run at Gonzalez.

“Even if you account for the Coors Field inflation (he hit 24 of his dingers at home), he still offers more power than most of the current Royals,” Wagler wrote. “A good chunk of those homers will turn into doubles at Kauffman [Stadium], but he would fit into what the Royals like to do.”

Injuries hindered Gonzalez in 2012 and 2013, but he totaled career highs in home runs (40) and games played (153) in 2015. 

The Royals reached the promised land by developing their remarkable farm system, and the Rockies will ask a lot for the eight-year outfielder, who is owed more than $37 million the next two years, per Spotrac.

If the Royals were to part with a sizable chunk of their prospects, they would remain favorites in the American League by adding a formidable force like Gonzalez to their lineup.


Cubs remain active in pitching market

The Cubs have added Heyward, utility man Ben Zobrist and right-handed pitcher John Lackey—but they aren’t done yet. 

Chicago is reportedly seeking another starter, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, to supplement its already-remarkable rotation that includes reigning NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Lackey. 

Morosi reported talks are already underway with a pair of clubs for the Cubs’ would-be No. 4 spot:

As Muskat noted, the Cubs still have plenty of chips to offer to solidify their rotation, such as outfielder Jorge Soler and infielder Javier Baez. 

Baez seems to be the more logical move, as the Cubs infield appears set with Anthony Rizzo at first base, Zobrist at second, Addison Russell at short and NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant at third.

Parting ways with Soler would be more costly—at least for now—as Chicago only has Heyward and Kyle Schwarber to man the outfield. 

The Cubs are already the favorites to win the World Series, per Odds Shark, but team president Theo Epstein and company are well aware that adding another arm in their rotation would give them more assurance come October.

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Mets at Dodgers Game 1 Preview: Can New York Figure out Clayton Kershaw?

One man. One pitch. That is what stands in the way of the New York Mets potentially taking a 1-0 National League Division Series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.

The man is Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw, maybe the best pitcher in Major League Baseball when he is on, will take his 16-7 regular-season record to the hill versus the Mets. The 27-year-old struck out 301 batters in 2015, and he has a 0.88 WHIP (h/t ESPN). Kershaw‘s impressive resume speaks for itself.

The southpaw’s incredible curveball is the pitch. It is a pitch that has baffled opposing batters for years, and it is one that could haunt the Mets all night long on Friday.

The Mets being subpar versus a particular pitch is, on its own, not a massive concern. Kershaw is many things as a pitcher. Average or ordinary doesn’t make the list. Along with bringing his dynamic arm to the mound for Game 1, Kershaw will also be looking to shake off his postseason demons as he attempts to guide the Dodgers to a series lead.

Anybody who has followed the Dodgers and/or Kershaw over the years is probably familiar with his playoff stats. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register presented those numbers on October 8:

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has a 1-5 record and 5.12 ERA in 11 career playoff appearances (including three relief appearances in 2008 and 2009). His past four postseason starts have ended in ugly defeats – two in elimination games for the Dodgers. Kershaw has a 7.15 ERA in those games.

Kershaw, per Plunkett, is aware of his past. It will be on his mind when he faces the Mets:

“I don’t need to be fueled by too much,” Kershaw said when asked the inevitable questions about past failures providing greater motivation to succeed this postseason. “I definitely remember. But it’s a new team, new season and hopefully for me a new outcome.”

One way a lineup can combat a pitcher who has a devastating curveball is to hope for first-pitch fastballs, and then come out swinging early and often. Kershaw is not a conventional pitcher, and he may not, as explained by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, give the Mets any openings early in at-bats:

Two keys: Can you lay off his back-foot slider and is he landing his 12-to-6 curve? If he has that curve working, Kershaw will get ahead with it and can finish off a hitter going backdoor. If not, then that is a pitch you can eliminate as a hitter, especially the one that starts low and ends in the dirt.

Mets manager Terry Collins could go with up to four left-handed hitters against Kershaw on Friday. Both Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda are, according to Jonah Keri of Grantland, expected to be in the lineup for the Mets versus Kershaw. Those two have, per Sherman, gone a combined 2-for-20 when facing the ace. Granderson went .183 against southpaws this season, per Keri.

The sad stats, as explained by Keri, continue. Daniel Murphy hit .254 against lefties. Left-handers held Michael Conforto to a .214 average. Kershaw could realistically eliminate half of the New York lineup without allowing those men on base once on Friday. 

Looking for any hope for the Mets? Look toward the New York captain. Ignore any stats and numbers when considering how well or how poorly David Wright will play against the Dodgers. Instead, think back to the emotional boost that he provided the New York clubhouse upon his return in August.

This is the same Wright who bleeds orange and blue. The same Wright who was with the Mets during the heartbreaks of 2006 and 2007. The same Wright who hung around when the Mets were the forgotten baseball team of New York for several seasons.

Wright could set the tone for Game 1 and for the series against the Dodgers when he strolls to the plate in the first inning. Imagine, just imagine, what could unfold if a patient Wright gets his pitch and crushes it for a home run. How much energy would that give to the Mets? How would Kershaw react to history possibly repeating itself? 

Other than Wright, the task of taking Kershaw down will fall upon Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes, a true NL Most Valuable Player candidate after joining the Mets before the trade deadline, is more than just a solid bat. He is a man who can clear the bases with one swing of his bat, and he has proved in the past that he thrives in the postseason.

Cespedes, per Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today, batted .350 in 10 playoff appearances for the Oakland Athletics in 2012 and 2013. It is also worth noting that Cespedes is chasing a big payday that will come this offseason. Every good playoff series Cespedes has only increases the worth of his future contract.

Whether or not the Mets are able to get to Kershaw could, in the end, fall on Kershaw. SweetSpot blogger/ESPN writer David Schoenfield:

As Molly Knight wrote at Sports on Earth in her look back at Kershaw‘s postseason history, “Pitcher wins and losses don’t mean much, except when you’re the best pitcher of your generation and you lose elimination games, two years in a row, to the same godforsaken team in excruciating fashion, and have to spend 12 months dealing with hecklers and keyboard warriors calling you a choker when you are perhaps one of the most mentally tough athletes on the planet …”

So, yes, Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet. Now he has to prove he’s the best postseason pitcher on the planet. Fair or not, that’s his legacy heading into these playoffs. Molly believes Kershaw is ready. I think he’s going to have that signature game … or three.

Kershaw will eventually have a dominant postseason outing for the ages. He is too good to not give at least one to the Dodgers. This Mets lineup is made to be blown away by Kershaw. Kershaw will be facing a New York team in prime time and in front of a national television audience. Bet against him at your own risk. 

Fans of the Mets should not enter a panic room if Kershaw is untouchable on Friday. A series is a marathon, not a sprint. Leaving Los Angeles with a split will still be possible if Kershaw throws nine innings of shutout baseball. Yes, the Mets have to face Cy Young Award candidate Zack Greinke in Game 2.

New York will have to worry about that on Saturday.

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Mets Rookie Noah Syndergaard: Record-Setting Season

In 1995 the New York Mets felt they were on the verge of an All-Star pitching rotation consisting of Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson. This highly promoted young trio was dubbed “Generation K.”

All three prospects fell short of expectations, however, as each of them suffered major injuries before the end of the 1996 season. After being converted to a closer, Isringhausen was the only member of the trio who went on to find success in the majors, recording 300 saves and playing for five teams after the Mets.

Fast-forward 20 years later. The Mets again have a young generation of highly touted young starters. But this time it appears they may live up to the organizations’s lofty expectations. The trio of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard helped carry the Mets to their first division title since 2006—and Syndergaard set the regular-season record for average fastball velocity per 100 innings pitched (97.1 mph) since 2002, according to NJ Advance Media’s Mike Vorkunov, via FanGraphs.   


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Daily Fantasy Baseball 2015: These MLB Advanced Metrics Can Make You a Winner

Fantasy baseball is often a game of mix-and-match when figuring out the right players to pick in daily fantasy leagues. One aspect of the game is often overlooked by a majority of fantasy baseball players and can help immensely in figuring out players to select.

While looking at too many forms of advanced statistics may do more harm than good, there is no doubt that some metrics are essential in helping a fantasy team win.

Here are a few key MLB advanced metrics to use in daily fantasy baseball leagues.

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Biggest Issues the Dodgers Must Address at the Trade Deadline

When examining the Los Angeles Dodgers on the surface, it’s difficult to find anything significantly wrong with the team.

Not only do they rank among the top of the league in runs scored and ERA while having committed the sixth-fewest errors, the Dodgers have also maintained control of the National League West for most of the season.

But no team is perfect and with the trade deadline now just a month and a half away, the Dodgers may want to consider two minor issues.


Crowded Outfield

Heading into the season, the Dodgers’ starting outfield consisted of Yasiel Puig in right field, rookie Joc Pederson in center field and veteran Carl Crawford in left field.

The alignment quickly got shuffled when Puig went down with a hamstring injury in mid-April, and Crawford joined him on the shelf shortly thereafter with an oblique tear.

Veteran Andre Ethier, who had been essentially relegated to bench duties ever since Puig arrived in 2013, stepped in and has put together a nice bounce-back season so far. He is slashing .287/.366/.491, and his eight home runs have already doubled his 2014 total.

Manager Don Mattingly has also been trying to mix in the capable bats of outfielders Scott Van Slyke (currently rehabbing a back injury) and Alex Guerrero. With Puig and Crawford missing most of the first two months, the issue basically resolved itself. 

But Puig recently returned to the lineup, solidifying two of the three outfield spots alongside Pederson, an early front-runner for NL Rookie of the Year. The only position left up for grabs is left field, and there will be an obvious dilemma when Crawford and Van Slyke climb back into the fold to compete for playing time with Ethier and Guerrero.

The dilemma will be four outfielders for one spot. Even in a platoon strategy, that’s still two right-handed hitters (Guerrero/Van Slyke) and two lefties (Crawford/Ethier) competing against each other.

While the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman values depth, even he might realize the impending outfield surplus is probably untenable. 

So the questions then become who to trade and for what.


Starting Rotation Depth

If there’s one area in which Los Angeles could use some future help, it’s the back end of the starting rotation.

The Dodgers lost Hyun-jin Ryu and free-agent addition Brandon McCarthy to season-ending injuries, forcing fellow newcomer Brett Anderson to slide from the No. 5 spot in the rotation to No. 3 behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Anderson has been satisfactory, posting a 3.57 ERA in 12 starts. But the southpaw’s lengthy injury history is a constant cause for concern. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times points out, Anderson’s 12 June innings are more than all of his June innings combined during the past five years.

The stopgap solutions that Mattingly has thrown into the fire—right-handers Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias—have performed admirably considering their lack of experience.

Bolsinger, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason, had thrown just 52 MLB innings prior to 2015. He began the season in Triple-A but has turned in a 4-1 record with a 2.25 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 12 starts for the Dodgers since his promotion.

Frias entered this season even greener, with only 32 innings of prior MLB experience. But he, too, has held his own, compiling a 4-3 record and 3.86 ERA in eight starts.

Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi understand that Anderson’s next injury could be just around the corner. They also know full well that the surprising Bolsinger/Frias tandem might falter as the workload increases.

It’s why the Dodgers should consider adding a more proven arm to stabilize the back end of the rotation in case the aforementioned scenarios manifest themselves.


Trade Logistics

Los Angeles would probably like to trade away an outfielder in order to clear what will soon become a logjam. That’s easier said than done, however.

Although Ethier has re-established his trade value after two seasons with declining playing time and production, he is still owed $35.5 million through 2017—including a $17.5 million club option in 2018. Crawford and the $41.75 million he is due over the next two seasons will be nearly impossible to move, leaving Van Slyke and Guerrero as the two likeliest players to be flipped for some starting pitching.

Guerrero has become somewhat of a secret weapon for the Dodgers, slashing .282/.312/.615 with 10 home runs in limited action. While his statistics are surely attractive to other teams, the clause in his contract stipulating that he may become a free agent at the end of any season in which he is traded may hold up a potential deal.

Van Slyke possesses the cheapest contract of the bunch and is accustomed to coming off the bench. His career OPS of .805 indicates what kind of hitter the 28-year-old can be with regular playing time. Last year, he led Los Angeles in slugging percentage and OPS.

While pitchers on struggling teams like Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija will likely see their names cast into trade winds because of their contracts, the Dodgers might be interested in less-heralded hurlers come next month.

One realistic target could be Scott Kazmir of the Oakland Athletics, someone with whom the Los Angeles front office is quite familiar. Friedman worked with him in Tampa Bay, and Zaidi—formerly part of Billy Beane’s brain trust in Oakland—was instrumental in bringing him to the Bay Area.

The veteran left-hander has pitched well for the cellar-dwelling A’s, posting a 2.79 ERA in 12 starts. On the flip side, Oakland could use a player like Van Slyke to help bolster a regressing offense that currently ranks 17th in OPS. With the ability to play all three outfield positions, Van Slyke would also become an immediate offensive upgrade over current left fielder Sam Fuld.

Los Angeles will almost certainly need to include a collection of additional pitching prospects like Zach Lee, Ross Stripling or Zach Bird to facilitate this deal.

If Oakland wants Ethier—a player the A’s originally drafted—the Dodgers would need to eat a significant portion of his bloated contract, similar to the $32 million chunk they bit off this past offseason in the Matt Kemp trade.


All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise linked/noted.

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3 Biggest Takeaways from the First Month of Dodgers Baseball

The Los Angeles Dodgers finished the first month of their 2015 campaign right where they left off last regular season—atop the National League West standings.

It’s been somewhat of an unexpected first few weeks for the Boys in Blue, who were projected to experience a drop-off in power when they traded away Matt Kemp and let Hanley Ramirez walk in free agency.

Instead, Los Angeles leads the NL in home runs and has also received surprising production out of its new-look bullpen—a point of weakness last year.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from the first month of the Dodgers’ season.


Joc Pederson is the Real Deal

When the Dodgers traded away Matt Kemp last winter, it became clear that the organization was fully committed to rookie Joc Pederson becoming a major contributor right away.

So far, that gamble has paid off.

Pederson has already smacked seven home runs through Monday—six more than Kemp—and appears to have solidified himself as the team’s center fielder of the present and future.

Manager Don Mattingly recently moved the 23-year-old to the lead-off spot in the batting order, and the switch produced immediate results. Pederson became the first Dodgers rookie to hit a home run in four straight games (with an at-bat) since Bill Sudakis in 1969, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. One of the home runs was a grand slam, the first for the Dodgers in 286 games, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA.

His 1.043 OPS ranks seventh in the MLB—ahead of names like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton.

“Donnie told me from day one that it’s about putting together quality at-bats,” Pederson said, per Joe Resnick of the Associated Press. “They weren’t worried about the results. They saw what I could do. I still need to continue to put together quality at-bats. We’re only a month into the season. So it’s not how you start, but how you finish.”

Pederson isn’t just getting it done with that bat, either. He has looked comfortable patrolling center field all season, making seamless reads and several diving catches without an error to date.


Bullpen Has Been Better Than Expected

The Dodgers’ Achilles heel from a season ago has quickly become one of their strongest assets so far in 2015.

That’s right. Entering Tuesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles relievers have combined for a 1.90 ERA—fourth-best in the majors.

The Dodgers’ bullpen recently saw its 26-inning scoreless streak snapped earlier this week. But a small blemish hasn’t taken away from the quality relief that this collection of unheralded pitchers has provided in the early going.

There are several new faces waiting for their name to be called this season, many with little MLB experience.

Right-handers Yimi Garcia (0.66 ERA) and Pedro Baez (2.45 ERA) have emerged as trustworthy options despite having combined for just 25 games of major league experience prior to this season.

Paco Rodriguez, a second-round draft pick in 2012, and rookie Adam Liberatore, acquired from Tampa Bay in the offseason, are southpaws who have also turned in nearly spotless relief.

These low-cost success stories represent a refreshing change from the highly paid failures of last season—namely Brian Wilson and Chris Perez.

New President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has encouraged Mattingly to base pitching changes off matchups rather than innings, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN.com. Instead of naming a seventh-inning guy or an eighth-inning guy, the Dodgers simply react to the situations presented in the late innings.

“Everybody (in the bullpen) is ready to go from the fifth inning on,” said veteran reliever J.P. Howell, a lefty specialist with a 1.23 ERA, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News. “No superstar stuff. That’s how I like it.”

This fluid strategy may become slightly more rigid when closer Kenley Jansen returns from a foot injury and picks up sole ninth-inning responsibilities.

Alex Guerrero Needs to Play Everyday

The secret is officially out on Alex Guerrero, as the Dodgers’ bench extraordinaire earned National League Rookie of the Month honors for April.

He batted .423 with a 1.077 slugging percentage and five home runs. But the most notable number was his 26 at-bats. It’s a rather small amount of action for a player who has offered elite production.

The Dodgers signed the Cuban defector to a four-year, $28 million contract following the 2013 season. He spent most of last season in the minor leagues, limited to fewer than 350 total at-bats because of an infamous ear-biting incident. He finished the season batting .329 with 15 home runs at Triple-A.

Guerrero’s barrier to entry remains Juan Uribe, the Dodgers’ Opening Day third baseman. The veteran is in the final year of his contract with the Dodgers, and the team values his defense and leadership in the clubhouse. Uribe is currently slashing .279/.318/.361 with one home run.

Additionally, Los Angeles recently won the bidding war for fellow Cuban defector Hector Olivera, signing him to a six-year, $62.5 million contract, per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Olivera can play third base and second base—Howie Kendrick’s position for at least this season.

The Dodgers have gotten creative in order to insert Guerrero’s bat into the lineup, playing him in left field now that Carl Crawford will be sidelined for the foreseeable future with a tear in his oblique. But this solution isn’t suited for the long term, and Guerrero’s trade value is probably as high as it will be all season—he even admitted so.

“Now it changes for me,” Guerrero said through an interpreter, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Because pitchers are going to adjust the way they’ve been pitching me. They didn’t know me before.”

This has led some to believe that the Dodgers might try trading Guerrero, perhaps for starting rotation depth. Brandon McCarthy will miss the rest of 2015 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, and Hyun-jin Ryu has yet to take the mound this season because of shoulder inflammation.

However, the hitch in a potential trade is a clause in Guerrero’s contract stipulating that he can become a free agent at the end of any season in which he is dealt. Guerrero is due $4 million this season and $5 million in each of the next two seasons.


All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.

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Early Grades for the Dodgers’ Offseason Acquisitions

The Los Angeles Dodgers made headlines this offseason with a flurry of personnel moves. Three weeks into the 2015 season, these recent additions have provided varying contributions.

Although the sample size is still relatively small, we’ve decided to hand out an April report card for the newest Boys in Blue.

This evaluation follows the order in which Los Angeles acquired these players during the winter.

All stats courtesy of ESPN.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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An Early Look at the Top 3 Dodgers’ Trade Deadline Chips

The 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers have played fewer than 15 games, but it’s never too early to look ahead toward the trade deadline.

President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and General Manager Farhan Zaidi were not shy about tinkering with the roster during the offseason. So it would not be surprising to see midseason deals unfold as the schedule progresses.

While the team currently appears to be set at most positions, there are a few players who might represent intriguing trade chips come July or sooner.


Zach Lee

Zach Lee entered last season as the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, but his stock tumbled due to struggles at Triple-A.

He began 2015 ranked No. 6, behind pitchers Julio Urias and Grant Holmes, according to the team’s website.

Lee’s name has been tossed around the organization ever since Los Angeles pried him away from Louisiana State University with a record signing bonus after the team drafted him 28th overall in 2010.

Despite the lucrative signing bonus, Lee has failed to make a significant impression during his first four years in the minors (32-35 combined record with an ERA hovering around 4).

The Dodgers are now understandably more excited about Urias, a recent Texas League Player of the Week, and Holmes, their first-round pick in last year’s draft.

Lee, who projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, is off to a 2-0 start at Triple-A this season. He has struck out 13 in 12 innings while walking just two—a past bugaboo.

If Lee can continue to maintain these kinds of ratios, he would certainly be a candidate to include in a future trade. Teams usually want prospects at the trade deadline, and there doesn’t seem to be a spot for Lee at the major-league level.

The emergence of Urias and Holmes will potentially make it easier for the team to part ways with Lee.


Andre Ethier

For the second straight season, veteran outfielder Andre Ethier and his $18 million salary will spend most nights watching the action from the bench.

Rookie Joc Pederson beat out Ethier, 33, for the starting center field job. When healthy, Yasiel Puig is firmly entrenched in right field, while Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke are the two primary options in left field.

Nick Cafardo recently gave his thoughts on the situation in an update for The Boston Globe:

Not sure how a $16 million-a-year player can be sitting on the bench for the first three games of the season, but that’s what happened to Ethier. The Dodgers are all ears about a deal, offering help on the remaining $57 million of Ethier’s contract, but no bites. And it’s always tough to deal a guy who isn’t playing regularly.

It’s true. The Dodgers offered to eat half of Ethier’s bloated paycheck in an effort to move the career .285 hitter, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Although Ethier has received more playing time than usual in the early going as Puig nurses a hamstring injury, he still remains a fringe contributor in Los Angeles. His .259 average in 11 games does not inspire much confidence, but it at least showcases his abilities as an everyday player to potential suitors.

The Dodgers almost sent Ethier to the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter, but the deal fell through at the last minute, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Ethier is in the third season of a five-year, $85-million contract extension.


Alex Guerrero

Another member of the team seeking more playing time is Alex Guerrero.

The Dodgers signed the Cuban defector to a four-year, $28-million contract following the 2013 season. He spent most of last season in the minor leagues, and was limited to fewer than 350 total at-bats—in large part because of a dugout fight in which teammate Miguel Olivo bit off his ear. He finished the season batting .329 with 15 home runs at Triple-A.

Entering 2015 without a position, Guerrero made the Opening Day roster as a backup third baseman. A stipulation in his contract allowed him to refuse another demotion to the minors, and so far Guerrero has justified his presence on the roster. He is 5-for-14 with two home runs and eight RBI on the young season.

The Dodgers’ starting third baseman is Juan Uribe, however, who is finishing the final year of his contract. The veteran led all National League third basemen with at least 850 innings in defensive runs saved last season and Los Angeles values his leadership as well. Guerrero is still learning how to play the position, and has been relegated to pinch-hitting duties when Uribe is healthy.

What’s more, the Dodgers recently won the bidding war for fellow Cuban defector Hector Olivera, signing him to a six-year, $62.5-million contract, per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Olivera appears to be the heir apparent at the hot corner.

With backup infielder Justin Turner also in the picture, Guerrero may be expendable. Much like Ethier, the Dodgers could focus on showcasing Guerrero’s talents in an attempt to boost his trade value.

The potential is clearly there, but the playing time is not. If manager Don Mattingly sprinkles in more starting opportunities for Guerrero, the 28-year-old might accumulate the stats necessary to warrant league-wide attention in advance of the trade deadline.

“The team does not know what they are going to do, but all I can control is keep working hard and they will get the final word,” Guerrero said, per Sanchez.


All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise linked/noted.

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3 Biggest Takeaways for the Los Angeles Dodgers Following MLB Opening Week

The Los Angeles Dodgers wrapped up Week 1 of the 2015 season with mixed results, splitting six games against fellow National League West opponents.

It was a roller-coaster ride of emotions, with several exciting moments peppered with the sobering reminders that some old wounds may still need tourniquets.

The sample size is undeniably small, but here are the three main takeaways from the first week of Dodger baseball.


Clayton Kershaw Hasn’t Found His Rhythm

Through his first two starts in 2015, the reigning National League MVP has looked like anything but the pitcher who took home his third Cy Young Award last season.

Kershaw got the Opening Day nod at Dodger Stadium against the San Diego Padres. He came away with a no-decision after making 99 pitches in just six innings and allowed three earned runs. It wasn’t a terrible start but certainly below the standard Kershaw has set for himself during the past several years.

Surely the offseason rust would have crumbled away by his second start?

Not quite.

The Arizona Diamondbacks torched the southpaw for 10 hits and five earned runs in less than seven innings at Chase Field. Kershaw couldn’t avoid a decision on Saturday night, suffering the loss to begin the season 0-1.

“Basically, I got blasted today,” Kershaw said, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t know what else to say.”

Kershaw has already allowed eight earned runs on the young season. He didn’t surrender his eighth earned run until May 17 last year—coincidentally against the same Diamondbacks team at Chase Field during what would end up being his worst start of the season.

Kershaw will take on the Colorado Rockies in a home start this Friday.

Adrian Gonzalez Is Locked In

The Dodgers are going to need Adrian Gonzalez to hold down the middle of the lineup more than ever now that Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez are gone.

So far, the veteran first baseman hasn’t disappointed.

He’s recorded a hit in every game this season, including five home runs during the season-opening series against San Diego—the team for which he belted 161 long balls from 2006-2010.

The highlight of the week was Gonzalez’s three-homer game last Wednesday. The Padres’ starting pitcher, Andrew Cashner, served up each dose of the trifecta—the first of Gonzalez’s career.

“I was able to run into three fastballs and I thank God they were able to go over the fence,” said Gonzalez, per ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon. “It’s definitely right up there as a personal feat.”

The three home runs piggy-backed another one he had hit late in the previous game, making it four consecutive plate appearances that ended with a long ball.

All five of Gonzalez’s home runs this year have landed beyond the right field fence, illustrating a recent trend of pulling his round-trippers rather than sending them to the opposite field.

Gonzalez’s performance wasn’t solely about the power surge, though. According to Ace of MLB Stats, he also became the first player in the last decade to open a season with at least three hits in his team’s first three games.

While none of Gonzalez’s four hits over the weekend left the yard, the 32-year-old still enters Tuesday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners with a robust .556 average (15-for-27), four doubles and seven RBI.

Bullpen Concerns Remain

A winter removed from ranking 22nd in bullpen ERA, 20th in FIP and 27th in walk rate, the Dodgers bullpen is once again struggling to begin the 2015 season.

Determined to solidify a shaky situation, new president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi decided to clean house over the winter. They severed ties with Brian Wilson and made trades to bring in right-handers Joel Peralta, Juan Nicasio and Chris Hatcher.

With closer Kenley Jansen out for at least a few more weeks as he recovers from foot surgery, the Dodgers have turned to a bullpen by committee.

Hatcher recorded the save on Opening Day but retired just one of the next nine batters he faced over two appearances—ballooning his ERA to 33.75 in the process. Peralta has since assumed closing duties and has yet to allow a run.

Although Peralta has turned in serviceable work so far, the 39-year-old has just 14 career saves in 561 innings pitched. Continued reliance on him in the ninth inning may eventually cost the Dodgers, who must patiently wait for Jansen to return.

Left-hander J.P. Howell, one of the few holdovers from last season, began the season by allowing a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning last Tuesday. After pitching a scoreless inning the next day, he then took a loss in Arizona by surrendering a walk-off single in the 10th inning on Friday.

Los Angeles relievers, whose combined 3.60 ERA ranks 21st in baseball, have been directly responsible for two of the team’s three losses.

“We’ll just play it out,” said Mattingly, per NBC Los Angeles’ Michael Duarte. “You’ll have to stay tuned. It’s a fluid situation.”


All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Complete Dodgers’ 2015 Season Preview

As spring training nears a close for MLB teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers can start to focus their attention on Opening Day.

Besides a completely new front office, half of the infield and about 40 percent of the starting rotation will feature new faces, ones the Dodgers have entrusted to carry the team back to the top of the National League West and beyond.

Fans heard about the metrics all winter, and now they have finally seen the players on the field instead of on a sheet of paper or computer screen. There have been relatively few disappointments at Camelback Ranch so far as the team molds itself into shape for the real deal.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Dodgers in advance of their first game of the season on April 6 against the San Diego Padres.

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