After all the off-season previews, we come to what I would do (or attempt to do) if I were the Dodgers' general manager. I am taking into account the money situation, so there won't be any Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols sightings in this post (unfortunately).
My plan is somewhat a rebuilding plan, but also a plan to succeed in 2012. With Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have two of the best players at their position in the game. It'd be wise not to waste those years with total building.
There's nothing I can do about Juan Uribe and Matt Guerrier, but I'm going to do the best I can with those two still on the roster.
Priority No. 1 - Extend Matt Kemp
7 years, $140 million + two team options
13: $12M, 14: $16M, 15: $26M, 16: $24M, 17: $22M, 18: $20M,
19: $20M, 20: $20M ($4M buyout), 21: $20M ($4M buyout)
- This is the Dodgers' priority. Kemp is an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season and is coming off a near-Triple Crown performance. He's 27 years old and is in the early stages of his prime. He's going to be worth every penny, even if he eventually moves from center field to right field.
RHP Hiroki Kuroda - 1 year, $9 million
- This one is a no-brainer, if he's willing to come back. Kuroda was solid in 2011 and could very well be the Dodgers' No. 2 starter next season.
RHP Vicente Padilla - 1 year, $2 million
- Bringing in Padilla last season as a "utility" pitcher was a smart move. It's too bad he didn't stay healthy. The Dodgers should give that option another shot.
OF/1B Juan Rivera - 1 year, $4 million (2013 option for $4 million or a $500,000 buyout)
- Before news of Rivera re-signing broke, I actually had him coming back at $4 million for one season. The reaction on the Interwebs was none too good, so perhaps I was channeling my inner Ned Colletti on this one.
OF Tony Gwynn
- Gwynn would be a nice No. 5 outfielder for the Dodgers, just as he was this season. He wouldn't cost a lot.
RHP Blake Hawksworth
- He threw some quality innings before a late-season collapse. He should definitely be brought back to be the long reliever in the Dodger 'pen.
LHP Clayton Kershaw
- Kershaw could set records in his first year of arbitration, and an extension for him should be forthcoming.
To Atlanta: OF Andre Ethier, 2B Ivan DeJesus
To Los Angeles: 2B Martin Prado, RHP J.J. Hoover
- The Dodgers have a big hole at second base and Prado is available for a big bat. Ethier could be the big bat the Braves are looking for and Prado would slide right in at 2B and in the No. 2 spot in the order. DeJesus is apparently not in the Dodgers' future plans. Hoover is a nice middle-of-the-rotation prospect or reliever.
To Florida: RHP Javy Guerra, RHP Allen Webster, OF Alfredo Silverio, RHP Steve Ames
To Los Angeles: 1B/OF Logan Morrison, RHP Chris Volstad
- This trade is modified from my post the other day about trade targets. This may seem like a lot to give up for a 24-year-old who hit .247, but he'd be well worth it. He'd immediately be the Dodgers' clean-up hitter and provide the best protection for Kemp. The Dodgers also nab a 25-year-old starter who's down on his luck after the last couple of years. He still has potential and is insurance for Nathan Eovaldi.
Trading Guerra at the height of his value is a smart thing. He'll likely be a solid reliever in the Majors, but he might not ever be as good as he was in 2011. I'm not as high on Silverio as others, but I am on Webster. The Marlins have also expressed interest in Fielder or Pujols -- albeit mild -- which could lead them to trading Morrison to improve the rest of the team. All three prospects are nearly Major-League ready.
Free agent signings
IF Wilson Betemit - 1 year, $2 million
- The former Brave, Dodger, Yankee, White Sox, Royal and Tiger returns to the Dodgers with the hopes he splits playing time with Juan Uribe at third base. He can also play first base and second base (in a pinch).
OF Grady Sizemore - 1 year, $6 million + option $9 million option ($1.5 million buyout) for 2013
- Despite people saying he could get close to $9 million, I don't think there's anyway he does. He's coming off three injury-plagued seasons and isn't the same player he once was. So why do I want him? Well, I've always been enamored with his abilities and think he could be a good risk/reward player. He'd basically be replacing Ethier as the Dodgers' left fielder. If he could get back to any part of his former self, this would be a steal for the Dodgers.
LHP Brian Tallet - 1 year, $650,000
- He's older and a lefty, which means he's in demand. The Dodgers need another lefty in the bullpen and not just a LOOGY, either. Tallet can go multiple innings, if needed.
Dee Gordon SS
Martin Prado 2B
Matt Kemp CF
Logan Morrison 1B
Jerry Sands RF
Grady Sizemore LF
Juan Uribe 3B
A.J. Ellis C
Clayton Kershaw LHP
Hiroki Kuroda RHP
Chad Billingsley RHP
Ted Lilly LHP
Nathan Eovaldi RHP
Chris Volstad RHP
Blake Hawksworth RHP
Brian Tallet LHP
Matt Guerrier RHP
Josh Lindblom RHP
Scott Elbert LHP
Kenley Jansen RHP
Wilson Betemit IF
Tim Federowicz C
Tony Gwynn OF
Juan Rivera OF/1B
Justin Sellers IF
So, there you have it. No Fielder. No Pujols. Yet, this team can be competitive. The minor-league depth takes a hit with the Morrison trade, but the Dodgers also get a young middle-of-the-order bat in return. They also lose Ethier but gain a second baseman capable of putting up an .800 OPS.
The pitching staff remains the same. I am a little worried about depth and considering the number of injuries the Dodgers had in 2011, it'll be interesting to see what they do to strengthen depth overall.
The Dodgers also have a lot of guys on the cusp of tasting the Majors, including Alex Castellanos, Jamie Hoffmann and Scott Van Slyke. Any of these guys could find themselves on the Dodgers' roster in 2012. The Dodgers also have some pitchers (Shawn Tolleson, Chris Withrow) and position players (Gorman Erickson, Kyle Russell) close to the Majors.
Chime in with your thoughts in the comments section or on Twitter.