During one of the busiest Winter Meetings in years, the Los Angeles Dodgers new front office group president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and General Manager Farhan Zaidi hit the ground running and left the meetings smiling after an extreme makeover of the roster. Friedman used a lot of creativity to land the guys he wanted, trading outfielder Matt Kemp, catcher Tim Federowicz and $32 million to cover part of Kemp’s $107 million contract to the rival San Diego Padres for catcher Yasmani Grandal, pitcher Joe Wieland and a prospect right-hand pitcher Zack Elfin.
The Dodgers sent second baseman Dee Gordon, pitcher Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas to the Miami Marlins in exchange for left-hander Andrew Heaney, infielder Enrique Hernandez, reliever Chris Hatcher and minor leaguer Austin Barnes. The Dodgers then flipped Heaney to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for All-Star second baseman Howie Kendrick. Seeking a veteran shortstop to replace Hanley Ramirez the Dodgers via trade acquired Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies. Rollins will make $11 million in 2015, the final year of his contract.
Rollins batted .243 with 17 home runs, 55 RBIs and 28 stolen bases last season. Rollins is the perfect veteran to bridge the gap until their top position player Corey Seager is ready to handle the position.In another move the Dodgers agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal to land free-agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy was a steal as a back of the rotation starter for under $50 million.
Several Dodger fans are upset about the loss of popular outfielder Matt Kemp. It has also been labeled a salary dump. The move begs a few questions; did Matt Kemp wear out his welcome? Did Kemp not meet expectations? Will trading a much needed bat to a division rival come back to bite the Dodgers? The Dodgers have weakened the power aspect of the lineup with Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and speedster Dee Gordon gone. The Dodgers got a 26-year old catcher who hit 15 home runs last season and is one of the best at framing his pitches.
There is a strong possibility that maybe a trade that was engineered months ago involving fired Padres General Manager Josh Byrnes, now Andrew Friedman’s right hand man in Los Angeles and Logan White, the Padres senior advisor to the general manager/pro scouting director who came from the Dodgers helped push this deal over the top. Byrnes knows and likes Grandal, White who knows and drafted Kemp. It is impossible to discount the amount of work these two executives, with new mailing addresses, put in to get this deal done. The blue crew is basically renting Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick for a year.
The fact of the matter is that the Dodgers made five deals, changed the chemistry in the clubhouse, bypassed the Rule five Draft, but did select four players in the AAA Draft for the farm system, got younger and a year from now opened some significant contract space for more free agent signings without moving blue-chip minor league players Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias.
According to Advanced WAR numbers (Wins above Replacement is an attempt by the saber metric baseball community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic) the moves make sense and are aligned with Friedman’s statement ‘We made ourselves a better team’.
Several have asked a very simple question: WAR what is it good for? According to The Society for American Baseball Research, SABR for short, dealing in advanced metrics -everything. The concept of WAR is all-inclusive. The thinking is that no other one stat is able to give such a complete look at a player. WAR looks at base running, fielding, playing time and the players’ total value. In saber metric circles WAR is the difference between evaluating players in black-and-white analog and vivid, colorful HD.