The Los Angeles Dodgers lost in their quest to win a World Series title, but there is definitely hope for the future.
Despite an ugly 9-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals that eliminated the Dodgers from their quest for a World Series title, this is a team well-positioned for the future.
The Dodgers spent a boatload of cash in attempting to win this year, but even with their NLCS loss, their model for winning could pay off in the not-so distant future.
First, they have key players under contract for several seasons. Yasiel Puig, who aided the Cardinals’ victory with poor defense on Friday, is signed for the next five seasons. So too is first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who signed a seven-year, $154 million deal with the Boston Red Sox in 2012.
Left fielder Carl Crawford has four years remaining on his original seven-year, $142 million deal, and center fielder Matt Kemp is on the books until the end of the 2019 season.
On the pitching side of things, ace pitcher Zack Greinke is locked up through 2018. Hyun-jin Ryu, the Korean southpaw who shined in Game 3 of the NLCS, is signed through 2018 as well.
Ace Clayton Kershaw’s contract runs out this season, but no worries, Dodger fans—he’s not going anywhere. The Dodgers will work out a long-term deal with their Cy Young Award-winning pitcher this offseason.
In addition, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, pitchers Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley, and outfielder Andre Ethier are all under contract for next season as well.
So, while the bloated payroll didn’t result in a World Series title this year, the core of the team is in place, and there’s a lot more money left to spend on roster upgrades.
The Dodgers are the only team in baseball to eclipse the four million mark in attendance. They have a TV contract that’s the most lucrative in baseball, and they have owners with deep pockets.
It’s unlikely that they’ll go after the winter’s biggest free-agent name—New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Dodgers have no interest in meeting Cano’s demands for upwards of $300 million. They do, however, have a keen interest in Cuban infielder Alex Guerrero. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said that the two sides could re-enter discussions after talks of a contract fell through this summer.
Considering the success the Dodgers have had with international players (Puig, Ryu), Guerrero just may be their answer at second base long-term.
There are also deals to be made. In a crowded outfield, Ethier would appear to be a fourth wheel, and an expensive one at that. The Dodgers could explore the option of dealing Ethier this winter to help upgrade other roster spots.
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, the Dodgers will make Ethier available this offseason. Carardo also said that Kemp could be had in a deal as well, but that seems far less likely given his hefty contract and injury concerns.
The Dodgers are also expected to be players in the David Price sweepstakes. Price, who won the 2012 Cy Young Award for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, is simply too expensive for Tampa Bay to keep. The Dodgers’ deep pockets make them an automatic player for his services.
Price is still under arbitration, so teams bidding for his services will have to come up with a hefty package of players/prospects to acquire him. The Dodgers don’t have a deep farm system, so GM Ned Colletti would have to get creative in order to facilitate a deal.
With all of the above components, it’s easy to see that the Dodgers aren’t going to be cellar-dwellers anytime soon. With an outstanding core of key players and their ability to outbid other teams for key free agents, the Dodgers are indeed primed for a sustained period of success.
Note: Player contract information courtesy of Cot’s Contracts.