The Los Angeles Dodgers, famously, have the highest payroll in baseball and that is a result of the group led by Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten taking ownership of the club from Frank McCourt. The new ownership group quickly made moves to acquire high-priced stars in 2012, bringing over SS Hanley Ramirez from Miami and 1B Adrian Gonzalez/RHP Josh Beckett/OF Carl Crawford from Boston.
It didn’t get the Dodgers into the post-season in 2012. 2013 saw a trip to the NLCS, but not a berth in the World Series. And at this point in the 2014 season, the Dodgers are atop the NL west, looking like they will be back in the post-season, pending a challenge from the San Francisco Giants.
Those moves in 2012 cost the Dodgers, not just in payroll, but in minor-league talent. Namely, pitching. RHP Nate Eovaldi went to Miami in the Ramirez deal and RHPs Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa were shipped to Boston for the trio of stars.
At this year’s deadline, LA resisted any deals that included certain minor-league prospects. A trio of talented players were on other teams’ wish lists, but the Dodgers would not let go of SS Corey Seager, 17-year old LHP Julio Urias or OF Joc Pederson. Seager and Urias were still at hiA Rancho Cucamonga at the time, while Pederson was raking at AAA Albuquerque.
The elite and expensive major league roster in Los Angeles could have seen the additions of LHP Cole Hamels, LHP David Price, maybe even LHP Cliff Lee. But the minor-league depth was part of the asking price and GM Ned Coletti, to his credit, stood firm.
Instead, the Dodgers added utility-man Darwin Barney just before the deadline and saw their division rivals in San Francisco add RHP Jake Peavey, and nothing else. After the deadline, LA added RHPs Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia to shore up the shaky back end of the rotation.
Clayton Kershaw has done what he is known to do. Zack Greinke is going through a rough spot and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that there is an injury. But Greinke does have 12 wins to this point and Hyun-Jin Ryu has posted 13 wins. Despite Greinke’s status at this point, that’s a pretty big “Big 3.”
After that, it has been the all-over-the-map Dan Haren and Josh Beckett. When these two take to the mound, it has ranged from a disaster to a no-hitter (Beckett), either a short outing that taxes the bullpen, or a masterful silencing of the powerful Angels (Haren).
With Beckett on the DL and the bullpen having a difficult time getting the game to closer Kenley Jansen, Hernandez and Correia were solid additions and it didn’t cost the Dodgers any of their minor-leaguers that have been identified as elite. That’s a vast change from 2012’s “do-anything” strategy that brought in the splashy names in exchange for elite minor-league talent.