Los Angeles Dodgers 2013 Offseason Report: Evaluating Each Position

OVERVIEW: Now that the sting of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ embarrassing 9-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in game six of the NLCS has pretty much subsided, it’s time for GM Ned Colletti to look over his roster and decide how to make it better for 2014. And now that we know principal owner Mark Walter is willing to whip out the check book and pay a king’s ransom for anybody, expect the Dodgers to once again splurge in free-agency and trades. But how can the Dodgers improve on last season’s division championship? Because most of the Dodgers’ roster spent last season on the disabled list rather than on the field, Colletti will need to figure out how to keep most of the roster intact, while infusing a little youth to keep them healthy. With the resources available to him, expect Colletti to go on another shopping spree. Here’s a look at the major areas of concern for the Dodgers this winter:

SECOND BASE: Whether you know it or not, the Dodgers have already improved upon this position. At least they’re hoping so. Shortly before the end of the season, they signed another ex-Cuban cast off, Alexander Guerrero, to a four-year deal worth $28 million. Guerrero has a chance to earn $32 million with performance bonuses. Guerrero, 26, was a two-time All-Star in the Cuban league, Las Tunas in 2010 and ’11. He hit .290/.402/.576 with 21 home runs in his final season in Cuba. Assuming that he can duplicate these numbers, Guerrero figures to provide more pop at the position than Mark Ellis, who was a solid fielder, but is also older (36) and not an offensive threat. Even though the Dodgers did not pick up Ellis’s option for next year, they could bring him back as a reserve.

THIRD BASE: Juan Uribe did one heck of a job turning the jeers of the last two seasons in to cheers this year. Uribe had a comeback season for the Dodgers, batting .278 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. And surprisingly, his defense at the hot corner was Gold Glove caliber. Since the position is bone dry this year at this position, the Dodgers could bring Uribe back with a qualifying offer, which would not be the worst thing.

CATCHER: A.J. Ellis might be a fan favorite at Dodger Stadium, but his offensive production was nothing to cheer about this year. Part of the Dodgers’ offensive problems stemmed from the fact that they received little to no production at the bottom of the lineup, so acquiring a catcher with a little more pop in his bat couldn’t hurt. Brian McCann is floating out there; however, his injury history is a major turn off.

CENTERFIELD: Yes, you heard me correctly. With Matt Kemp needing Krazy-Glu to stay healthy and Andre Ethier battling nagging injuries as well, the Dodgers may want to think about another outfielder. Kemp and Ethier are both under contract, so the Dodgers would have to trade one of them. Ethier would be the most expendable, because of his smaller contract. Jacoby Ellsbury’s speed and occasional pop would be perfect for the spacious Dodgers Stadium outfield.

STARTING PITCHING: The Dodgers finished 2013 with the second best E.R.A. in baseball. Yet, despite their pitching success, the Dodgers’ holes at the back end of the rotation were exposed in the playoffs, with Ricky Nolasco and Cris Capuano getting lit up like Christmas Trees against the Cardinals. The David Price trade rumors have already started and the club is also interested in Japanese fireballer Masahiro Tanaka. A rotation featuring Kershaw-Greinke-Ryu and Price would make life easier for an overworked bullpen. And Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett are also hoping to return from injuries.

BULLPEN: If Brian Wilson returns on a one year deal, then Dodgers fans will be happy. Kenley Jansen took some major steps forward this year becoming one of the most dominant closers in the game.

The Hot Stove League hasn’t been stoked yet, so right now, everything is pure conjecture for the Dodgers. With money flowing like a river of wine, expect the Dodgers to be kings of the hill in the offseason once again. The best is yet to come.

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