Monday, January 6, 2014

Dodgers could make splash by extending Kershaw, Ramirez, Mattingly

It appears the Dodgers aren't going to make any big moves this winter -- which is perfectly acceptable. They brought back a number of their most important free agents while adding Dan Haren to the mix.

They could still be in on Masahiro Tanaka, but that situation won't be resolved for another 18 days (at most). If they bring him aboard, he'll have been the biggest offseason acquisition. But the Dodgers can make an even bigger splash without having to bring anyone in.

Extensions. The Dodgers can sign three people to extensions during the rest of the winter that would cement their offseason as great.

Clayton Kershaw, Hanley Ramirez and Don Mattingly are all going into the last years of their respective deals. Of the trio, Kershaw is the most important person who should be extended.

Kershaw is going into his age-26 season as the best pitcher in baseball. The Dodgers cannot afford to have him reach free agency. Funny, with the Dodgers' seemingly unlimited budget, that's one thing they can't afford. An 8-year extension -- at minimum -- should be the starting point for contract talks.

There was scuttlebutt a few weeks ago the Dodgers might be getting close on an extension for Ramirez, but that has died down for the moment. Ramirez is coming off his best season -- rate stats-wise -- and could very well repeat his 2013 numbers. If he could do it while playing 130-140 games, he'd win the NL MVP. A 4-to-6-year extension isn't out of the question.

Mattingly was all but fired in June, then he all but resigned in October after the Dodgers' exit from the playoffs with a bold press conference in the presence of General Manager Ned Colletti. Now, he's slated to go into the 2014 season as a lame duck manager for the second consecutive season. The players obviously like playing for Mattingly, and he appears to like managing in Los Angeles. I'm just wondering where the disconnect is. Mattingly deserves a 2-year extension, as this team is primed to make a World Series run in 2014 and beyond.

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The Dodgers could assert their financial dominance even more than they already have by extending this trio. There's still roughly six weeks before pitchers and catchers report, so the time to get these done is now.

Even if they don't land Tanaka (or someone else), these moves could be the big ones some were expecting this offseason.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

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