“DODGERS BLUE PRINT”
Two years in a row…111-wins, then 100-wins, then ousted from the playoffs in their opening round of action.
The Dodgers cleaned out a chunk of their roster last off season, letting 11-veterans go. Then their starting rotation was wiped out by injuries and an ugly suspension.
Things complicated too by the continued criticism of Manager Dave Roberts, for mistakes made in handling the pitching staff.
Despite two years of success in season and two falls of post season failure, President Andrew Friedman says the decision makers stay in place, in the dugout and in the front office
Hilites of Friedman’s end of season press conference, courtesy of MLB trade rumors.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman met with the media (including Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times) on Tuesday afternoon, alongside GM Brandon Gomes. The two executives discussed the disappointing conclusion to another Dodgers season, potential changes to the major league coaching staff, and the team’s offseason plans.
Speaking on his ballclub’s unceremonious exit from the playoffs, Friedman could not deny that the words “organizational failure” ring true once again (he used the same phrase last season). Putting it bluntly, he said, “Our goal was to win 11 games in October, and we didn’t win one.” Indeed, Diamondbacks hitters trounced the Dodgers pitching staff in Game 1 of the NLDS, and L.A.’s own powerful offense rarely came through. Notably, Friedman also used the term “organizational failure” to avoid blaming any specific people or groups of people for his team’s poor performance. “Organizational failure means it’s on all of us,” he explained.
On that note, Friedman left no doubt that manager Dave Roberts and his entire coaching staff would be back in 2024, confirming that there won’t be any changes in the clubhouse. “I think [Dave Roberts] and our coaching staff did an incredible job this year,” he said, “And none of us did an incredible job in those three games versus Arizona.”
Unsurprisingly, Friedman says his top priority this offseason will be starting pitching. That means assessing internal options as well as considering potential trades and free agent signings. Dodgers’ starters struggled in 2023, posting an uncharacteristic 4.57 ERA and 4.37 SIERA. Things became especially bleak toward the end of the year; ten different pitchers started a game for the Dodgers in September, combining for a 4.87 ERA. The team had no shortage of depth, but too few reliable options.
Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías will be free agents after the season, as will Lance Lynn – presuming the Dodgers decline his $18MM club option in favor of a $1MM buyout. On top of that, Tony Gonsolin will be out for most, if not all, of the 2024 campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery. Dustin May’s status for next season is also up in the air, after the righty underwent flexor tendon surgery in July.
That leaves Bobby Miller, who just completed his rookie season, and Walker Buehler, who hasn’t pitched since June 2022, as the only healthy, established starters remaining in the Dodgers rotation. The team has several young starting pitchers on the roster, including Ryan Pepiot, Emmet Sheehan, Michael Grove, and Gavin Stone, but none with more than 100 innings of big league experience. Friedman expressed confidence in Miller and Buehler during his press conference, but he understands the need to augment the rotation.
As for Kershaw, Friedman made it clear that the Dodgers are “absolutely” interested in bringing the superstar pitcher back for another season. However, the ten-time All-Star hasn’t yet told the team if he plans to return. “I think he and [his wife] Ellen are going to take some time right now and assess,” the team president said (relayed by Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic). “The ball’s squarely in their court.”
In addition to starting pitching, Friedman will also look to address position player needs during the offseason. The Dodgers had an excellent offense in 2023, finishing second in baseball in OPS and runs scored. That said, designated hitter J.D. Martinez, utility man Enrique Hernández, and outfielders Jason Heyward and David Peralta will all be free agents after the conclusion of the World Series. The team will need to replace Martinez and Heyward’s production in particular. In addition, the Dodgers might look to add a new infielder so Mookie Betts can return to a regular role in right field.