The Dodgers number one priority this offseason should be to shore up the rotation. Ricky Nolasco, Chris Capuano, and Edinson Volquez come off the books and it is likely at least one of them returns.
Ricky Nolasco pitched decent is his 16 games with Dodgers, not including the playoffs. He had an 8-3 record, 13-11 overall, a 3.52 ERA to go with 75 strikeouts and 21 walks in 87.0 innings with the Dodgers. His 7.9 K/9(strikeouts per 9 innings) was the highest it has been since 2010 when he was with the Marlins. He put together a great stretch for the team after he arrived from Miami, highlighted by his dominant start against the Boston Red Sox on August 23rd. Nolasco looks to be one the most sought after pitchers this winter and will probably command between 15-19 million a season. A 3 year deal is not out of the question somewhere is the neighborhood of 3yrs/50mil.
Chris Capuano had an injury riddled season in his final year of a 2 year, 9 million dollar deal he signed with the club in the winter of 2011. Capuano put up a 4.26 ERA in 24 games, 20 starts, along with the lowest K/9 in his career. The Dodgers already declined his team option, opting to pay him a 1 million dollar buyout instead. Capuano has a decent chance of returning next year as a possible spot starter and long man out of the bullpen.
Edinson Volquez was decent after he came over from the Padres, however with his track history the Dodgers should stay far, far away.
Arbitration Eligible: Clayton Kershaw
|....I will have all the money.|
Clayton Kershaw had another stellar season putting up career bests in ERA(1.83), IP(236.0), BB(55), ERA+(194), WHIP(.915), and BB/9(2.0). The soon-to-be Cy Young winner also had a great year with the bat, highlighted with this Opening Day blast against the Giants. Kershaw should be set for a huge raise this year, hopefully by way of a new long-term contract. Rumors of a 300 million lifetime deal swirled a few weeks ago, however if there is any truth to that there is no doubt in my mind Kershaw would have already signed that deal. Keshaw will be the highest paid pitcher in MLB history, and it is just a matter of when.
Under Contract: Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley
Greinke and Ryu had great seasons and are both under contract through 2018. I love saying that just as much as I love typing it. Billingsley and Beckett are both entering the final years of their deals, and both are recovering from major injuries. Billingsley is recovering from Tommy John surgery which he had in April earlier this year. Reports on his health have been positive, but pitchers usually don't return to full strength until about a year after their return. Billingsley figures to return sometime in the first half of the season, and will most likely slot into the bullpen. Beckett is recovering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome but looks to be ready to pitch in spring training 2014. Beckett will be a wild card entering the year, and there is a good chance he never returns from his injury. Beckett considered retirement earlier this season, but we will see how he progresses come spring training.
Free Agents to Consider: Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka is the only name I listed for Free Agents to consider, and he's technically not even available....yet. His Japanese team has not yet posted him in light of new rules that have not yet gone into effect. Tanaka, 24, has been most frequently been compared to fellow countryman, Yu Darvish. Tanaka put up obscene numbers in the Japanese league this year, and his team won the championship a few days ago with him on the mound. After throwing 160 pitches in Game 6, Tanaka returned in the 9th inning the next day to throw 15 more pitches. The article about this can be found here. As soon as Tanaka is posted, nearly every big market team in need of pitching figures to enter the bidding war. With posting fees most likely ranging between 60 and 75 million dollars, along with a contract close around 80 million, Tanaka's services won't come cheap.
Capuano resigns with the Dodgers for a 1 year, 4.5 million dollar contract.
Nolasco and Volquez sign elsewhere.
Masahiro Tanaka signs with the Dodgers after they pay a posting fee of $67.67 million dollars. They will then sign him to a 6 year, 75 million dollar deal.
Clayton Kershaw will start off the new year with a bang, signing a 10 year, 275 million dollar contract on January 3rd.
Beckett never fully recovers from his injury and spends most of the season on the 60-day DL, after making only 1 start.
Billingsley returns in July and pitches out of the bullpen the remainder of the season.