Money, Money, Money (and Free Agent Pitching)

During the dialogue about the Dodgers non-desire to pay for $100M+ pitching, Scott Andes stated “Those guys are expensive because hold onto your hats here, they are good, and you get what you pay for.” Since he knows the Dodgers can afford to sign 10 Greinke’s, obviously he feels the Dodgers have no salary cap to concern themselves with.  I like it when people like to spend other people’s money.  This is not intended in any way to pick on Scott.  He espoused what many believe, and I just used his comment from the other day.  FAZ has gone through 3 FA campaigns , so let’s take a look at what FAZ decided to pass up.

For the 2014 – 2015 FA class, there were approximately 16 FA starting pitchers for consideration:  Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields, Ervin Santana, Brandon McCarthy, Francisco Liriano, Justin Masterson, Jason Hammel, Jake Peavy, Edison Volquez, AJ Burnett, Ryan Vogelsong, Aaron Harang, Brett Anderson, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley.

Let’s forget about Jon Lester. He was never going to play anywhere except for the Cubs. Lester (and all former Red Sox players) loved playing for Theo Epstein led teams. The only other spot he was about to consider was Boston. So LA was never on his radar.

Max Scherzer was never going to sign for less than for $200M. He believes he is every bit the pitcher Clayton Kershaw is, and was not going to settle for less. He got close with a 7 year $210M. However, per the Detroit Free Press January 22, 2015, “the structure is designed to pay him $15 million annually for 14 years…”

Scherzer received a record $50-million signing bonus, of which $5 million is due for 2015 and $15 million each in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The money is due in 12 equal semimonthly installments in those years, from April through September.  In addition, he receives salaries of $10 million for 2015, $15 million each for 2016-2018, and $35 million in each of the final three years. That $105 million total due over the final three years will be deferred without interest and paid in $15 million installments each July 1 from 2022 through 2028. This is the largest deferred salary contract in MLB history.

Also consider, with Greinke’s opt out clause due to kick in for 2016 and Clayton for 2019, the Dodgers were not going to sign another $200M pitcher. One final nail was that Max Scherzer’s ego (deservedly so) was not going to allow him to play in LA as a #3.

James Shields 4 year $75M, Ervin Santana 5 year $55M, Francisco Liriano 3 year $39M (higher AAV than McCarthy), Jason Hammel 2 year $20M, Jake Peavy 2 year $24M, Edison Volquez 2 year $20M. Who would you have signed (if any wanted to sign in LA)?

Are the Padres/ChiSox getting what they paid for James Shields? Is it because he is that good? Ervin Santana did not sign a long-term contract for 2014 because of long-term health concerns and instead signed a one year deal with the Braves. Santana did not like his one year in the NL and wanted back in the AL. McCarthy outpitched him in 2014, and signed for less years and less total dollars. In addition, Santana was suspended for the first 80 games of the 2015 season due to PED (Stanozolol), and would have been suspended for the playoffs.

Francisco Liriano had a good 1st year with Pittsburgh, but not so much the 2nd year. He did pitch better when traded to Toronto, but again has started 2017 roughly. In hindsight, I will concede that Liriano might have been a good selection for 2015 only. Being another reclamation project for Searage might have been a positive. The one thing I do not know is whether he is a good teammate/citizen which certainly would have been a criterion.

Jason Hammel made it clear that he wanted to go back to the Cubs. The Cubs made a fair offer and he took it. It is possible that Hammel might have taken the McCarthy offer from the Dodgers. Hammel signed on December 12, 2014 so we do not know if the Dodgers ever made an offer. McCarthy signed on December 16. Again in hindsight, I will concede that Hammel may have been a good choice for 2015 if it was available.

For 2015-2016 there were approximately 19 FA pitchers. David Price, Zach Greinke, Jordan Zimmerman, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Wei-Yin Chin, Kenta Maeda, Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy, Yovani Gallardo, John Lackey, Hisashi Iwakuma, Marco Estrada, J. A. Happ, Mat Latos, Doug Fister, Rich Hill.

Are the Red Sox, DBacks, Tigers getting what they paid for? Price, Greinke, and Zimmerman, are three of the four pitchers signed for $100M+. Greinke is getting less reliable and seems to be regressing.  At least his decreasing fastball velocity would indicate so. Zimmerman is bordering on bust, and we do not know what will happen with Price. But with a 3 WAR the Red Sox did not get comparable value to his contract in 2016. Who knew how good Happ would turn out (I guess the Blue Jays did). Iwakuma signed a one year contract and two additional one year club options. He would not have signed that with the Dodgers.

Johnny Cueto the fourth $100M+ pitcher admittedly had a very good year with the Giants. There are concerns about his elbow, and it has acted up with the Reds, Royals, and Giants. Will it hold up? With the expected group of FA pitchers following the 2017 season, I am sure he is hoping that it holds up and he can opt out. But is the risk worth $130M? The Dodgers did not think so. Would he have signed a 2 year deal for higher AAV to go back on the market earlier? IMO no, because I believe he wanted security just in case that elbow blew up. Some of you believe he was worth the risk. With AGon/Ethier/Crawford contracts still on the books, many of us others do not believe that the risk was worth the cost.

Wei-Yin Chen 5 years $80M, -.2 WAR in 2016 was not a very good return. His pitching metrics have not improved considerably in 2017. Ian Kennedy – 5 year $70M, had a decent year in 2016, but will it continue for four more years.  KC is trying to unload him and there are no takers. Marco Estrada signed very quickly with the Blue Jays. He might have been a 2-3 year option had he remained a FA.

Jeff Samardzija was not a good FA contract. His 2016 year may have been worth the one year contract, but his 2017 is starting a lot like his 2015 season, when he led the league in hits against, ER allowed, and HR allowed. His 2017-2020 contract years are more of a risk that is pointing in the negative direction.

Lackey was a good 2 year deal, but he wanted the Cubs (can you say Theo Epstein?). Mike Leake may turn out to be a decent contract, but it is still 5 years and $80M.

For 2016-2017 there were approximately 11 FA pitchers. Ivan Nova, Rich Hill, Jason Hammel, Travis Wood, Andrew Cashner, Bartolo Colon, Edison Volquez, R. A. Dickey, Jhoulys Chacin, Brett Anderson. Which of those pitchers other than Rich Hill could even come close to giving the Dodgers what they need? Of course he has to pitch, just like Madison Bumgarner has to pitch to be effective (and he isn’t because of something stupid). Hill is adjusting his grip, so let’s see where this ends up. The skeptics may indeed prove to be right. I am just not convinced yet.

The common complaint about McCarthy was his injuries. His two serious injuries were shoulder (requiring surgery in 2009), and epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture (from line drive to head) requiring surgery. Both injuries needed additional treatment in 2013. In 2014, the Yankees traded for McCarthy and told him to go back to his cut fastball which the DBacks told him to discontinue. Perhaps that was the resurgence of his career. There was no issue with his elbow after a 2008 inflammation. No UCL tear. 14 starts, averaging nearly 6.5 IP, 2.89 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 1.151 WHIP with the Yankees, was a good indicator that McCarthy was a good back end of the rotation risk.  His first two years were a bust, but the way he has started this year, I am glad he signed for 4.  It looks like there could be some return.

Scott Kazmir had two good years before he signed the three year deal with a one year opt out. His 2015 was better than 2014, so the trend was positive. With the 2016-2017 FA pitching class (as identified above), why wouldn’t he believe (or the Dodgers) that he would be at the top of the list come FA time. He may never pitch again, or he might be able to come back and pitch later in the year, or maybe next year. 3 year $48M contract. All of the other comparable pitchers were for more money and years except for Lackey. They needed a pitcher, and signed one for the least number of years and dollars available. Scott was nothing more than a bridge to the next group. They gambled that he would opt out, and lost. They were not going to sign any of the others, so it was Kazmir or nobody.

FAZ had three FA campaigns, and selected McCarthy/Anderson for 2015; Maeda and Kazmir for 2016; Hill for 2017.  None of them for more than $48M guaranteed.  Skeptics like to rip on Anderson, but his 2015 was better than anyone expected for what should have been a #5.  FAZ gambled that Anderson would not accept the QO and were wrong.  First time in the history of the CBA did this happen, and there were three QO’s accepted.  He was going to be 28 in 2016, and looking at the dollars thrown around pitching that FA season, why he didn’t reject the QO is a better question.  Because of their low risk/high reward mentality, FAZ was looking for another J.A. Happ with McCarthy and Kazmir.  Okay it didn’t work, but they do not have Samardzija, Leake, Chin, Kennedy, Shields, Zimmerman, Greinke, or any of the others blocking the future rotation coming in the next three years.

For this year, the FA pitching options are not a great selection. Some of the bigger names are Jake Arrieta, C.C. Sabathia, Jeremy Hellickson, Lackey, Estrada, Liriano, Chris Tillman, Hector Santiago, Lance Lynn, Michael Pineda, Tyler Chatwood, Alex Cobb, Wade Miley. Arrieta is going to get at least Cueto dollars, so he is not an option.  I am bullish on Lance Lynn.  We will have a full year to evaluate how he recovers from TJ surgery.  Who would you target if any?

This article has 68 Comments

  1. Great article, AC!

    Who would I target? Someone undervalued with an injury history!

    Everyone wanted Greinke after his great year, but past performance is not an indicator of future performance!

    The fact is: the Dodgers probably don’t need any help. I am assuming Kazmir is done (although maybe he isn’t). That leaves the Dodgers with these options next year:

    1. Kershaw
    2. Hill
    3. Urias
    4. Ryu
    5. McCarthy
    6. Maeda (?)
    7. Stewart
    8. Buehler
    9. White
    10. Oaks
    11. Maybe Alvarez

    There’s more in 2019. I could actually see another trade.

    On Bellinger:

    You can just see the way he plays the game – he’s so smoothe. He has played very little LF but looked like he belonged. 1 infield hustle hit and 1 BB on his debut. I’ll take it. I think he’s here to stay. Roberts should have pinch ran for A-Gon when he got to 3B. I seldom second-guess but that was a blunder. A faster runner would have tried to score… maybe he would have been out, but you can’t send A-Gon!

    1. Scott wanted Greinke enough for all of us. He was clearly all in. Me, I was saying a three year contract. Scott and I were both wrong it would appear. But so was FAZ who offered a 4 year contract and might have offered a 5th but we may never know for sure what they were really prepared to do. It was reported both the Giants and AZ offered more.
      I have been looking forward to the time that Seager, Pederson, and Bellinger play together. I love the thought of having three young power lefty bats in the lineup that can all play defense. I like Wil Smith as a young righty bat along with Puig to join them. Taylor might be a third righty bat. Toles and Hernandez intrigue me as a platoon in LF if there is going to be a platoon.
      Bellinger may have to stand further away from home plate at least against lefties. He has a fluid swing.

    2. Mark, I don’t remember who Roberts had on his bench to use as a pinch runner. Toles was used to pinch hit for Kike’. Barnes maybe but being the backup catcher makes using him risky.

    3. Don’t see Wood or Stripling on you list for next year. Assume (and I would concur) they are with the team and in the bull pen.

      Although both are capable back end starters but I think they are more valuable to this team in the pen.

  2. Nice post AC! Hindsight is 20/20 so I tend not to look at the what if’s but most of the signings that were made did not work out that well, including the Dodger’s. If McCarthy had been healthy all along his signing would stand out. Maeda’s contract prevents a real loss of $$ and his first season was good.

    I would love to have Arrieta in the rotation but at what cost? He has not had the arm issues that plagued Cueto. Lynn is interesting, he is a real scrapper and fits the Faz profile of upside at a discount. You would think the Cubs and Cards have first shot at either if they want them. Like Mark, I think they are done for next year with the arms they already have and ones on the way. McCarthy, Kazmir and Ryu will be in their final contract years, Hill will have 2 left, Kershaw will not be allowed to leave (hopefully) and Maeda’s contract is team friendly.

    Bellinger showed me a good arm when he almost threw out Posey at 3B, and good speed when he legged out a hit. He has a good eye and ridiculous bat speed and dares pitchers to throw inside. I am reminded of when Beltre was called up at an even younger age and never went back down. I think he is here to stay unless he just can’t hit at this level as he does everything else already.

    Anyone but AGon, Grandal or a pitcher would have been sent on that flyball and force a perfect throw to the plate. But it was a pitcher up and hard to predict he would do what he did. Next batter Toles chased ball 4 to strike out and had a dead red fastball on 3-1 I was surprised he missed.

    1. Vegas Dodger, you have stated my underlying point…large $$ FA signings and deadline acquisitions are not generally successful. Sometimes it is better to walk away than overpay.

      While the argument for not taking a FA pitcher is far stronger than taking one, Lance Lynn is the one that intrigues me. He has no exposure to Theo or Maddon, so there is no affinity to them. But if they lose Arrieta, I would agree that Lynn would be on their radar. He is from Indiana so I assume he grew up a fan of one of the mid-west teams. He will cost at least Mike Leake money, so he is probably not an option for the Dodgers. Arrieta is going to get stupid money, and all of the FAZSkeptics are going to say is that with all of their resources, the Dodgers blew it again. They are too small market minded.

      Both you and Mark said that Kershaw’s flyball was deep enough. I posited yesterday, instead of batting for Hernandez, I thought a better option was with Bellinger already in the game, having Toles run for AGon. I did not see the play so I was not sure how deep it was. Hawkeye thought the ball was fairly shallow. But sometimes it seems to take a triple to score AGon from 3rd.

      1. The ball was shallow and the throw was not thrown to the catcher and instead was between the foul line and the mound and cut off. Who knows if the LFer would have thrown to the catcher if Toles were the runner instead of Gonzales. Also, I never heard or read anything about how good of an arm the LFer had.
        Toles’ bat seems to be cool right now and as we know, speed never slumps. Is Kike’ hitting righties? Lots of questions.

  3. Excellent analysis Always Compete! However, don’t know if you can win anybody over who believes Dodgers can afford 10 Greinkes AND 20 Cuetos.
    Only thing I take issue with is Anderson. Don’t know why you (and Mark) believe FAZ was surprised by Anderson taking QO. I gotta believe, they considered he might take it before they offered it to them. Question, as you stated, is why Anderson took it. 28 yr old starters coming off a 180 IP of 3.69 ERA ball, averaging 5.8 innings in 31 starts are always welcome. Does anyone really believe FAZ lost ANY sleep over Anderson signing a one year $16M contract after that season? It will be interesting to see what Theo does if Anderson has a good year this year with Chicago. Qualifying Offer (maybe he can’t with new rules)????
    As far as 2017 free agents, it’s the price, it’s always the price with FAZ, as it should be!!

    1. I WAS SURPRISED Anderson took the QO. Until 2016, no one ever did. An Agent like Boras would have gotten him 4 years/$60 million, but that’s my opinion. You and Hawkeye are psychic… or psychotic… or both! 😉

      1. Well definitely not psychic, maybe psychotic, probably depends on the day of the week.
        Yeah, I thought Anderson would go the free agent path also. I thought he could have easily gotten $36/3yrs even with the other team giving up a draft pick. I also think if he hadn’t gotten any acceptable offers, Dodgers would have been happy to resign him for $16M/1yr Kind of like what they did with Howie.
        With 20/20 hindsight, maybe it makes sense for Anderson to have taken the QO. The draft pick (what is the $$ value) really limits what teams will offer, another good year would have really helped his value.
        Bottom line: Agree with Always Compete, “FAZ doesn’t do anything blind”!

    2. Box, I doubt FAZ lost sleep over Anderson’s acceptance, but I do beleive they wanted another #1 pick more than Anderson. That is why they gave him the offer, not because they wanted another year of Brett Anderson. They would have found another Brett Anderson and stockpiled another #1. I am quite certain that FAZ did consider that Anderson would take it. They do not do anything blind. I think they determined a percentage for his acceptance, and thought the likelihood was his refusal.

      1. For some reason I thought Anderson would take the QO. If he had one more good year then he would set himself up for a much better multi-year contract. I didn’t think he would receive a 3 year contract that would have averaged $16M annually. I think FAZ was willing to gamble with a win being a draft pick and a loss being a decent expectation that Anderson would repeat his 2015 performance.

    3. I think they felt if Anderson showed anything, then he (Anderson) would note the Dodgers minor league system and the ever-present red hot pitcher market and opt-out.
      The trouble is Anderson didn’t show anything.
      Was a bet worth taking, IMO, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bet.

    4. Maybe we are all saying the same thing.
      ALL I am saying, FAZ offering the QO was a win/win AND they viewed it that way. I agree FAZ would have been VERY happy getting a draft pick for Anderson. That would have been a huge win, $10M (2015 salary) for 180IP and a first round draft pick.
      They HAD to offer the QO because of the above AND the expectation was he could repeat the season he just had AND Anderson’s 2015 season was worth $16M. Especially when combined by the small ONE year contract risk.
      Again, it will be interesting to see what Theo, the “smartest” guy in baseball does with Anderson after this season if he does well.

  4. I agree with Faz wanting the 1st round pick, who knew that Anderson would join Matt Weiters and Colby Rasmus as the only players to ever accept the QO? Kendrick probably wishes he did as no one offered him more than the Dodgers 2 year $20M deal to return. Teams shied away from giving up a pick except for top level talent. Wipe the slate, what’s done is done and if Anderson was healthy that year it would have looked good. Now giving Kazmir a player opt out is another story. He didn’t really like the Dodgers but wisely knew he would get no better offers so opted in. Whether he contributes any more is an open question but he was coming off a decent season when he was signed. Risk vs. reward and all of that factored in. I don’t think they want to take on much risk going forward.

    1. I agree Vegas about the Dodgers are now in a position to not have to take on risk. When they did gamble with players that were risky it could be argued that signing three risky players who otherwise would cost much more if they were not risky in hopes to get a combined 180 innings in any one year whether it is from one of them, several of them, or a different combination of them each year of their contracts is less risky than signing a less risky pitcher at a cost greater than the combined cost of the risky pitchers.

    2. If I injured myself every time I tried to step over the 3rd base line I would take a guaranteed $16 million deal because no one in their right mind would give me a multi-year deal.

      All GM’s make mistakes. Giving Anderson the QO was a mistake. Kazmir was a panic move when the let Iwakuma slip through their fingers. However, I too would have bet on Kazmir opting out. Giving MCCarthy four years is something I disagreed with at the time. Just because he can salvage the last two years doesn’t make it a good move. Since the Dodgers have already eaten about $28m of the $48m, I said the entire offseason, he had value unlike Kazmir. Let’s hope he keeps throwing well.

      1. I think I remember you saying, Signing Anderson for $10M was a good deal, but offering the QO was dumb.
        Not sure I understand the reasoning. Prior to 2015 Anderson was coming off 4 years of less than 100 IP/yr. Although, he had thrown 43 inning of 2.91 ERA ball in 2014. After throwing 180 IP in 2015 of 3.69 at 27 yrs old, why was it mistake to offer $16M for ONE year? Seems like, he was entitled to some kind of raise after 2015.

        1. Boxout

          His injury history alone, makes him a bad bet for that second year.

          And with his unathleticism, he is a walking time bomb, almost every time he step up, to the mound.

          We were lucky he pitched through that first year.

          To bet on him for another year, just doesn’t make sense, and the odds, are just not good!

          Did you see him fall on the mound, the other day?

        2. I felt like risking a lower contract with some incentives was okay for a guy they were giving a shot at the fifth spot. Also, after a year watching Anderson run, bunt, and try to field it made sense to me why he was hurt a lot.

  5. AC, thanks for taking the time to write a thorough review of pitching options that FAZ had–very informative.
    We may never know with assurance what FAZ might had offered to free agents or in trade. FAZ could have been very wise or lucky that a player didn’t accept their offer or that another team might have made a better.
    I have no idea what Scherzer would have accepted from the Dodgers. But I would think that if he could have gotten more in his first two years and then used an opt out to get closer to the same for the next five years it would have been tempting even if he had to pitcher in the West. A front loaded 7 year contract would have given him long-term financial protection should he be injured in his first two years. So, I have to disagree with you that Scherzer would not have accepted a front loaded contract from the Dodgers. Then again, maybe FAZ offered him one and he didn’t sign it.

  6. If we ever win a world series again, none of the starters will be “overpaid” or “overvalued”. All teams are trying to, but only one wins it all. For the others, these contracts are “so what?” Even Kershaw, at 30,000,000 per is in that category. 0 for his career. Really never really close. Dodgers signings are the shits because none has produced a title. We have to keep going to the market because 1-5 might be ok. How much we pay depends on the market, which, in turn, depends on the money the team is making. Keep in mind that the Marlins will probably sell for 1.3 bil. Winning a championship will make all the spending ok. At least until the next off season. If minor league pitchers were any good, no one would have to go the market, but very few turn out to be solid, major league starting pitchers. BTW: I saw Dallas Keuchel pitch for the Astros yesterday. THERE is a starting pitcher. Manager kept him in to complete the game even though he had some trouble in the last inning. When is he a free agent? Give him the bank. He cannot be overvalued. Urias is the best minor league pitcher we have had in years; we have seen, and will see again, just how good “the best” is. Not a MLB hitter around fears him, believe me. I just hope he is good tomorrow. We can go from there.

    1. The ones who have seen him will. Baseball Prospectus says this about him:

      “Urias’ fastball isn’t double-plus because of velocity (90-94 while touching 97), but because of how much life the pitch has, and how much command Urias has with it. There are two plus off-speed pitches at his disposal, led by a curveball with stupid spin and break; he can drop it in for a strike or bury it down when ahead in the count. The only way you can tell the difference between his change and fastball is by looking at the radar gun, and the late fade makes it a third pitch that will cause hitters to reach for the Zantac.”

      Clayton Kershaw had this to say about his when he was sent down this Spring:

      “To send me down, they didn’t need an excuse, because I was struggling. It was an easy decision for me to go down and work on things. Julio dominates up here, and that’s a tougher conversation, like, ‘Why are you sending me down?’ He’s having more success earlier than I did. That makes it harder to keep him back.”

      More Success – Earlier than Kershaw. Have you really ever seen Julio pitch? His stuff is incredible!

      1. His stuff is good, but we could’ve drafted him later. or signed him for cheaper. or something

      2. Mark

        I see what you mean about, Bellinger.

        He looked very mature, in his at bats, last night.

        He recognizes off speed pitches, much better, then Puig and Joc, does.

        And when he hit the ball hard, there was a lot of back spin on his ball.

        I thought that ball he hit to right, was going to carry farther.

        And on that ball that the Giants pitcher, hit off Kershaw into the outfield, Bellinger was able to get to that ball, quicker then Kike did.

  7. This is a really solid analysis – to a point. I agree that hindsight is 20/20 and that all free agent signings have risk. If you want to avoid all risk I guess you never sign anyone. (There is risk associated with that approach as well – if you never sign anyone to fill in the gaps, isn’t there risk in that strategy as well?)

    One assumption made by the author is that all pitchers who sign elsewhere would have the same performance if they had signed with the Dodgers. We know that isn’t true though – LA is a favorable place to pitch – a pitchers park and a team with an above average defense and other resources. An example is Greinke – does anyone believe that his numbers would have been the same in LA last year as they were in the desert?

    Another assumption is that if a pitcher (like Greinke) has one bad year in a 5 year contract that they will all be bad (sort of like some are crowing about McCarthy’s successes thus far this year in the face of 2 nothing seasons in the 1st 4 years of his deal). We don’t yet know how Price or Greinke will do in the remaining years of their deals.

    What we do know is that Brett Anderson had one good season at $10MM and one horrid one at $16.7 MM; Brandon McCarthy has had 2 horrible seasons at $13.5MM each and the start of one good one (this year) at $12.5MM. Rich Hill made 6 starts after the Dodgers acquired him 8/1 at the cost of $2MM (his pro-rated deal last year) – he missed a little more than 1/2 of the season remaining after he was acquired. This year he has done nothing thus far at $16MM and he is under contract for 2 more seasons. Scott Kazmir had 2/3 of a mediocre season at $16MM last year and is under contract for this year and next – he has done nothing this year for his $16MM. Of the pitchers signed by the Braintrust as free agents, the best return has been on Kenta Maeda who, at $3MM/year plus incentives is a good deal even if his arm falls off given his solid performance last season.

    Additionally, the Braintrust acquired the following arms to help a constantly injured and flagging rotation:
    Mat Latos ($3.4MM out of the $9.4MM for 2015)
    Bronson Arroyo ($3.5MM out of the $9.5MM for 2015 plus $4.5MM buyout for 2016, although the Braves paid most of this)
    Scott Baker ($1MM in 2015)
    Brandon Beachy ($2.5MM in 2015; $1.5MM in 2016)
    Bud Norris ($1.3MM out of $2.5MM with the Braves paying for most)
    Alex Wood ($190K out of $520K in 2015; $530K in 2016; $2.8MM in 2017)
    These are just starting pitchers and don’t include relievers or the seemingly infinite number of Cubans signed by the Braintrust.

    Finally, this doesn’t include the possibility of acquiring starting pitchers by trade. (Look at the deadline deals above – trading does happen.) The Dodgers acquired Grandal that way after all. They acquired Rich Hill that way too. Which pitchers might have been available by trade and the cost to obtain them is unknown.

    As to the rose-colored-glasses crowd, I hope that the Uriases and Buehlers of the world work out but we know that even top prospects have about a 1 in 5 chance of panning out. Not all of the great pitching prospects will be solid major leaguers. The past 15 years show us that. A team has to be willing and able to fill in the gaps from outside the organization. Dodger teams from the past did this well – Claude Osteen, Burt Hooton, Jerry Reuss, and others gave the rotation depth and quality innings when they weren’t available from within the organization.

    I can’t remember a more bedraggled, injury-prone, inconsistent group of Dodger starting pitchers ever. Even in the bad seasons in LA like ’67 and ’68 the Dodgers had better pitching than they do now. (I would take a Sutton, Drysdale, Bill Singer and Claude Osteen – the foursome from ’67-’68, or Rich Sutcliffe, Sutton, Hooton & Reuss (’79) or Hersheiser, Candiotti, Ramon Martinez, Kevin Gross & Pedro Astacio (’92) over the starters we have now and those were some of the really bad Dodger teams.)

    1. “An example is Greinke – does anyone believe that his numbers would have been the same in LA last year as they were in the desert?

      I don’t know, but I do know this: In 2016 Greinke had a 4.81 ERA at Chase Field and a 15.43 ERA at Dodger Stadium, 4.50 at Citi Field, 48.60 at Fenway. He was bad last year and so far this year is better.

      Here’s also what is not lost on me: The Dodgers have no long-term commitments to any starter but Clayton and while youcan’t remember a more bedraggled, injury-prone, inconsistent group of Dodger starting pitchers ever,the Dodgers have won the division every year Friedman has been in control (The only team you can say that about) and have built up one of the best farms systems in the game. With me, it’s substance over style. Just win, baby!

      1. Well, check out the Dodgers of Seasons Past. They would go virtually all year with the same group of starters. They didn’t need 15 guys to start games as they did last year. We already have 3 starting pitchers on the DL this year. They ARE injury-prone and inconsistent. A look at the guys on the roster now and their “accomplishments” since they have been Dodgers proves the point. (Calling Scott Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda.)

        And none but Maeda are signed to long term deals. I suppose we should be grateful for small favors – can you imagine if Anderson, Hill, Kazmir or McCarthy were signed for 6 years? (Actually, McCarthy was signed for 4 years – that’s not a short-term deal.)

        1. “And none but Maeda are signed to long term deals.”

          That seems to be the plan. Short term higher risk deals as a to bridge to what is hoped to be a more stable home grown rotation. All prospects won’t work out but odds suggest at least a couple of the current prospects will turn into solid rotation arms. If only 1/5 of 15 or so prospects make the rotation, that is still 3 of the 5 arms we need. Others can be traded to fill in roster holes (i.e. Forsythe deal) or staff the bullpen (i.e. Wood and Stripling)

          Maeda’s “long term deal” is a team friendly/incentive laden deal placing very little risk on the club.

          Hoping for only 5 starters to pitch the whole season AND playoffs is no realistic in this day and age. I don’t like it either, but reality is a tough taskmaster.

    2. I appreciate the response, and again it shows how we see the same things and come to different conclusions. Who can argue that Latos/Arroyo/Beachy/Baker/Norris were not bad signings. Although I think it is fair to say that you can substitute cash for Arroyo since that was the true impact as Arroyo never pitched for the Dodgers. But I see it as… so what? Did those pitchers change the outcome of the season? They didn’t help, but they didn’t hurt. The Dodgers still won 90+ games and the NL West.
      When FAZ joined the organization, the only pitcher in the minor leagues who was considered ML ready was Zach Lee, and that was a BIG maybe. FAZ could have emulated the Cubs/Astros/White Sox/Phillies/Reds and torn down the team, but they saw Kershaw/Greinke/and at the time Ryu, along with Gonzalez/Ethier/Puig/JT/Jansen/Kemp/Gordon, and decided to try to do something that no other team has tried…Build up the farm and try to contend. Looking at the start of the season, they thought they had three solid starters and needed two more. They needed a #4 and a #5; thus McCarthy and Anderson. My point was, knowing they needed a #4 and #5, what FA pitcher could they have signed other than McCarthy and Anderson, acquire enough minor league pitchers through draft/trade/international signings while giving them time to develop, but not block those that may become ready in 2017/2018/2019.
      You can argue that they gave McCarthy too many years. I can go with that. But what nobody on this site knows is what other offers he was getting. He did have a very good 2nd half with NYY after being allowed to throw his cut fastball. There was a lot of money and years being thrown around for the big boys, so it was bound to trickle down to the 2nd and 3rd tiers. Nobody thought he would need TJ surgery. His being on the 60 day DL did not hurt the team, other than the loss of his services. He may be snake-bit, but his elbow was not a concern at the time, and should not have been a consideration. So the only factor that can be argued is money. But for a team that can afford 10 Greinkes and 20 Cuetos, who cares?
      Anderson did exactly what he was signed to do…be a good #5. He catches a lot of grief because after the loss of Ryu and McCarthy, he was forced into the #3 role where he should not have been. Because there was no real farm system, the Dodgers were forced to go with Bolsinger (a FAZ acquisituon by the way) and Frias to complete the rotation, and yet somehow managed to win 92 games and the NL West. No one can deny that the Dodgers did not have a true #3, and were at a disadvantage against the Mets in the NLDS. But you got to expect that Kershaw and Greinke could each start twice (which they did), and they could manage to squeak out three wins (which they did not).
      The only FA pitcher other than McCarthy that was conceivable was Liriano. McCarthy was a better pitcher than Liriano in 2014. And we have no way of knowing whether he may have been offered and turned it down or not. Since you cannot truly project torn UCL’s with pitchers with no elbow issues, McCarthy was a safe sign. Would anyone have had a problem with signing McCarthy for one or two years for $12M to $24M? If not, then we are only splitting hairs about years.
      In 2016, they youngsters were getting closer, but were not quite there. They needed one additional pitcher for sure, but two would give them depth. At the time of Maeda and Kazmir signings, FAZ had every reason to believe that both Wood and Anderson would be in the rotation. Bolsinger and Frias were also considered available. Maeda was a great contract for the Dodgers, and pitched well. Kazmir was supposed to be a one year opt out, and he should have been at or near the top of the 2016-2017 FA pitchers. It just did not work out. I think it was Hawkeye that opined that Kaz was a panic sign after Iwakuma did not pan out. That may be. I do think FAZ had their sites set on Iwakuma, but after seeing his medicals, they were not going to give him three years guaranteed. Even Seattle (who knew him) did not do that. Samardzija, Leake, Cueto, and Kennedy were still available after Iwakuma, but FAZ was not going to commit those years and/or $$$, and watched them sign elsewhere, so that left Kazmir. Kazmir was better hope than Bolsinger or Frias, and both parties fully expected he would opt out after 2016. Both were wrong. So if not Kaz, who?
      I do agree there are possible trades. But teams with co-Aces and/or #2’s are not going to trade them if they expect to contend, or if they do agree to trade, it is going to require an overpay. Things have changed considerably since the days of Osteen, Hooten, and Reuss, or Candiotti and Gross. Most teams do not have a solid #1 thru #5. Some do. Chris Archer? Jose Quintana? Sonny Gray (no thank you)? Rebuilding teams are not going to move their young starters. That is who they are building around. I think your statement “which pitchers might have been available by trade and the cost to obtain them is unknown”, says it best. We have enough pitching to get to July. Let’s see which teams are sellers and see if a trade can be made. I do think FAZ is more open to the trade idea now more than in 2015 or 2016.

      1. A couple of thoughts:
        1 – When the Braintrust took over, the team had just won 2 Division titles. Why would it have torn the team down, a la the Cubs or Astros? The teams that tore down had been losers, not winners.
        2 – I disagree that the likes of Latos and Norris didn’t hurt the team. As it turned out, the Dodgers managed to win the Division in spite of the efforts of the benighted failures, but:
        Latos – 0 – 3, 4.00, WHIP 1.52, 24 IP, 31 H, 7 BB, 18 K (2015)
        Norris – 3 – 3, 6.54, WHIP 1.62, 43 IP, 48 H, 24 BB, 42 K (2016)
        The fact is that you didn’t know at the time that they were acquired what the outcome of the season would be. Last year, for example, the Giants totally collapsed, but you certainly couldn’t bank on it. If they hadn’t then the signing of the likes of Norris would have exposed the Dodgers to much worse.
        3 – To say that the fact that Kazmir, McCarthy, Anderson et al sitting on the DL doesn’t hurt the team is amazing. If Kazmir, for example, was signed to be the number 2 starter last year (and he was) and then he’s unavailable to the team, they have to sign the likes of Norris to take his place. Plus it is a poor use of the money. (I keep reading about throwing money away on bad contracts. If they had signed Kazmir to 6 years instead of 3, it would be a worse contract but it is still a waste of $48MM.) It is a lost opportunity cost.

        1. After 2014, the Dodgers lost Ramirez and Uribe two big parts of the offense, no SS, no real expectation that JT (as Uribe’s replacement at 3rd) would turn out as he did, no catching, no bullpen outside of Jansen, Haren said he was retiring, and Beckett did, with nobody on the farm to bring up. Neither Crawford or Ethier could be counted or moved because of their contract. Puig and Kemp could not exist as teammates. One had to be moved. The highest salary level in the ML because of some very bad contracts they assumed. Thus it would seem that large contracts in 2015 were not a real consideration or opportunity. So it was not the same team that ended in 2014 that started in 2015. To suggest that they could have just tweaked the roster a little because they were winners in 2014 is just as amazing.

          There is no lost opportunity unless there was a potential opportunity to begin with. You offer no suggestion what that opportunity could be. It is easy to pick a plan apart, but what is your solution? Who would you have targeted. What high level prospects are you willing to trade? What level of years and dollars are you willing to commit? What are those opportunities that were supposedly lost? Unless you can point to another pitcher available other than Bud Norris, he did not hurt the team. He filled a spot. Agreed not very well, but then who can replace Kershaw? Are you suggesting that if Kazmir/Anderson/McCarthy were not on the DL, the Dodgers would have won 100+ games, and if they had, so what. They got to the NLCS Game 6 with their Ace going against a RHP. Are you suggesting that if they did not trade for Norris or if Kaz/McCarthy/Anderson were not on the DL, they would have won Game 6? The Dodgers do not beat the Nats without Hill, so that transaction worked out for that series. He did what he was traded for. I only wish we had the opportunity to see Hill go against Arrieta in Game 7. So how did they hurt the team.? If you can suggest what opportunity they lost out on, I would like to hear it.

  8. Two nice bookends from AC & dodgerrick. The first, ostensibly on those we did not sign, the second on those we did sign. A mixed bag.

    I think Dodger pitching will be addressed by those in the organization starting with Urias this week, who will be fine, it’s the others guys that concern me; blister boy, & Maeda. I do like the idea of Hill starting in the BP, but the recurring blisters does not instill any confidence in this guy pitching any significant innings.
    The Dodger hitting woes will also be addressed by those in the organization – Bellinger already here with Verdugo to follow, and the return of Forsyth. Big question is what to do with the declining Gonzalez? The swing & miss Pederson, and the do nothing Utley & Van Slyke & Hatcher.
    If the team still does not hit expect FAZ to make a trade for a RH outfield bat.

  9. Doug Padilla , Mark Saxon, Jim Bowden and Jayson Stark just laid off by ESPN. Stupid.

    1. It’s a form of Sabermetrics. Fans are reading less about baseball. It killed The Sporting News. We use “heatmapping” on our website to see where people go. I am sure ESPN does too. I will likely cancel my Insider Subscription. Baseball will be in big trouble soon. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a social reality!

    1. He does have 7 stolen bases at OKC and no caught stealing. I don’t know what that means, but he is not going to clog the bases.

  10. Even though I like him and hope he gets it going, I have to think the reins on Toles are beginning to tighten. He needs to show more to justify a spot with the big club.

  11. I raise a practical question at this point, how much are the Dodgers going to have to pay for Bryce Harper?

    1. Bluto

      Nothing, he doesn’t stay on the field, enough.

      And he isn’t as consistent as Trout is.

      And I don’t believe he will be as consistent, as Corey will be.

      And he wants way to much money.

      And we need a rightie bat, not another leftie.

      1. I think you are 100% wrong on every point there. Except that he’s not Trout, which is not really the issue.

        1. MJ,
          His OBP this year is roughly equivalent to Gonzalez’s OPS.
          He’s monstrously tough on lefties and righties.
          He plays Center, which the team could use.
          All that said, it’ll be a bidding war and I doubt the Dodgers will engage.
          AND he’ll hit the market with Machado and Kershaw.
          I think.

  12. Buehler has pitched in 3 games this year. Three innings each games. He has given up no earn runs and struck out 15, I believe.

  13. Evidently, this is the first time Bellinger has ever hit leadoff… in his life!

    It shows!

    1. Do you really think it matters where you hit in a lineup as long as it’s not 8th or in front of Barry Bonds?
      Obviously the leadoff hitter gets the most ABs, but beyond that?

  14. I was thinking, Posey will score from second eventually on the passed ball (Grandal lack of defense), but Romo took care of that

  15. The dreaded pitch count may lose another game. Wood was cruising. Could have gone one more. Can’t stand watching Romo pitch right now. Terrible pitch selection by Baez.

  16. As soon a Romo gave up the HR you could see this coming – too many times in SF
    Maybe the kid will hit one out

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