When Guggenheim took over ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of their stated goals was to restore a farm system that had been decimated under Frank McCourt. As part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, certain free agents (specifically those extended a qualifying offer by their teams) are tied to draft pick compensation. Certainly the Dodgers are not the only team mindful of avoiding these players, but the team has not surrendered any of their draft picks in each of the last two offseasons.
The Dodgers were tied to a host of free agent pitchers as they looked to solve their issues relating to the back end of their rotation, including Masahiro Tanaka, Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez. The rumors linking the club to Santana and Jimenez were brief, and may have been nothing more than an agent trying to stir up interest in their client. The team’s interest in Tanaka and Arroyo was at least persistent, demonstrating a likelihood that the rumors surrounding their pursuit were somewhat founded. That the Dodgers pursued Tanaka and Arroyo (among others) with more vigor than Santana or Jimenez helps to make clear that the Dodgers are serious about restocking a once-proud farm system. Of course, Dodgers eventually signed Paul Maholm, who will compete with Josh Beckett for a rotation spot, to an incentive-laden contract that has been lauded league-wide.
The Dodgers have benefited from this strategy in a number of ways, and with the Baltimore Orioles signing Jimenez, the team will actually move up one spot in this year’s draft to number 22. Since Mark Walter and Stan Kasten took over, the team’s farm system has dramatically improved its rating, up from 18th in Keith Law’s ESPN rankings. Ranked 11th this year, the Dodgers have several players that are highly regarded prospects, including Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, and Zach Lee.
It is unlikely that any of these players reach the big leagues out of Spring Training this year, but the depth of the farm system gives the Dodgers added flexibility. It also allows the team to eventually reduce their spending on expensive free agents by developing homegrown talent, something the team has been known for throughout their history. The Dodgers have had 16 Rookie of the Year award winners, but the last was Todd Hollandsworth back in 1996. Fortunately, the dry spell will likely end soon if the Dodgers continue to place a high value on player development.
- Masahiro Tanaka Signs with New York Yankees
- Los Angeles Dodgers Continually Linked to Bronson Arroyo
- Los Angeles Dodgers Reported to Have Interest in Ervin Santana
- A.J. Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers Avoid Salary Arbitration
- Los Angeles Dodgers and Kenley Jansen Agree to Contract; Avoid Arbitration
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