The National League West division got a whole lot stronger when the Los Angeles Dodgers’ new ownership decided to push their cards all in and spend as much as necessary to win. It was a fairly busy offseason for the five clubs, but both the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants elected to use plenty of their resources on retaining some of their key pieces. The Arizona Diamondbacks made a series of interesting trades while the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies made a couple interesting acquisitions of their own.
Let’s take a look at what each club gained and lost of the past offseason.
|Los Angeles Dodgers | 2013: 92-70
Under new ownership the Dodgers have spent big the last couple of years in an attempt to win their first championship since 1988. The St. Louis Cardinals proved to be too much for the club to handle in the 2013 National League Championship Series as LA lost in six games, however. Run prevention was key to the Dodgers’ success in 2013 as the 582 runs they allowed were the third fewest in baseball, while their 649 runs scored were the seventeenth most.
Paul Maholm, SP — 0.7 fWAR | Signed one-year, $1.5 million deal
Alexander Guerrero, 2B — Played in Cuba | Signed four-year, $28 million deal
Jamey Wright, RP — 0.5 fWAR | Signed one-year, $1.8 million deal
Erisbel Arruebarrena, SS — Played in Cuba | Signed five year, $25 million deal
Chris Perez, RP — -0.9 fWAR | Signed one-year, $2.3 million deal
Dan Haren, SP — 1.5 fWAR | Signed one-year, $10 million deal
Chone Figgins, 3B — -1.1 fWAR (2012) | Signed minor league contract
Justin Turner, 2B/3B — 0.5 fWAR | Signed minor league contract
Chris Capuano, SP — 1.0 fWAR | Signed free-agent contract with Boston Red Sox
Ronald Belisario, RP — 0.0 fWAR | Signed free-agent contract with Chicago White Sox
Mark Ellis, 2B — 1.8 fWAR | Signed free-agent contract with St. Louis Cardinals
Michael Young, SS — -0.2 fWAR | Retired
Edinson Volquez, SP — 0.4 fWAR | Signed free-agent contract with Pittsburgh Pirates
Skip Schumaker, 2B/OF — -1.0 fWAR | Signed free-agent contract with Cincinnati Reds
Nick Punto, 2B/SS/3B — 1.8 fWAR | Signed free-agent contract with Oakland Athletics
Ricky Nolasco, SP — 3.0 fWAR | Signed free-agent contract with Minnesota Twins
There’s no doubt that it’s World Series or bust for the Dodgers in 2014 as they enter the season with an estimated payroll of $235 million; even higher than that of perennial big spenders the New York Yankees. The biggest move of the offseason was getting ace Clayton Kershaw locked down to a seven-year contract extension worth $215 million that also includes an opt-out clause after the fifth year. The reigning NL Cy Young award winner will once again be joined by Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu in the rotation alongside Haren, the newcomer. Maholm figures to be a placeholder in the rotation while Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett recover from their respective injuries.
The Dodger offence is about as loaded as it gets in baseball with all-stars at nearly every position. Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasiel Puig will lead the charge with outfielders Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier all being close to full heath. Third base will be covered after Uribe was re-signed, but LA has somewhat of a hole at second base after Guerrero, the Cuban import, didn’t appear ready for show in Spring Training. It’s expected that a combination of Turner, Figgins, and Dee Gordon will man the position for the time being and as we all know, the Dodgers have plenty of resources should they choose to acquire a more established option.
Los Angeles are the consensus favourite to win the NL West this year and they certainly have the talent to do so, but once again, it’s going to come down to health for the club. If Kemp or Ethier can regain their form of a few years back the Dodger offence could become very scary. Same goes for their rotation if Beckett or Billingsley can find something left in the tank. And should none of that happen, LA can probably just go out and buy the missing pieces their roster needs.
|Arizona Diamondbacks | 2013: 81-81
A pair of back-to-back 81 win seasons followed Arizona’s playoff appearance in 2011, placing them second in the division in 2013. The Diamondbacks’ 685 runs scored and 695 runs allowed placed them near the middle of the pack in both categories. Average isn’t going to cut it in a division with plenty of talent and the Dodgers’ ability to buy themselves out of trouble however, and the club made some interesting moves this winter to improve.
Addison Reed, RP — 1.7 fWAR | Acquired via trade with Chicago White Sox in exchange for 3B Matt Davidson
Bronson Arroyo, SP — 0.8 fWAR | Signed two-year, $23.5 million deal
Henry Blanco, C — -0.5 fWAR | Signed minor league contract
Mark Trumbo, OF — 2.5 fWAR | Acquired with RHP AJ Schugel via trade with Los Angeles Angels and OF Brandon Jacobs from the Chicago White Sox in a three team deal that sent LHP Tyler Skaggs to LAA and OF Adam Eaton to CWS
Ryan Rowland-Smith, SP/RP — -1.9 fWAR (2010) | Signed minor league contract
Willie Bloomquist, SS/OF — 0.5 fWAR | Signed free agent contract with Seattle Mariners
Matt Davidson, 3B — 0.2 fWAR
Tyler Skaggs, SP — 0.1 fWAR
Adam Eaton, OF — -0.5 fWAR
Wil Nieves, C — -0.1 fWAR | Signed free agent contract with Philadelphia Phillies
Heath Bell, RP — 0.0 fWAR | Traded to Tampa Bay Rays in a three team deal that sent LHP David Holmberg to the Cincinnati Reds; ARI acquired RHP Justin Choate and OF Todd Glaesmann
The D-Backs have found themselves in the category of being a good ball club, but not good enough over the last couple years. Slugger Paul Goldschmidt leads the offence that gets a potentially huge boost with the addition of Trumbo in the middle of the order, although there are legitimate concerns as to whether or not he can play the outfield. The trio of Miguel Montero, Aaron Hill, and Martin Prado have quietly been a stable force of the Arizona offence and will be relied on heavily once again.
A couple short weeks ago the Diamondbacks appeared to have put together a strong rotation with plenty of upside, but now that Patrick Corban is done for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the rotation has come under question. Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, and the recently signed Arroyo form a solid set of starters, but none are quite the game changer that Corban is. Top prospect Archie Bradley will begin the year in the minors, but it’s likely he’ll make an appearance in the big leagues before the season is over and could become an x-factor in the pitching staff.
Arizona is good, there’s no doubt about that, but the Dodgers are the clearly superior club in the division and the Wild Card race looks like it’ll be tough once again. All in all, the D-Backs may find themselves in the same position they were the previous two years: a .500 club that fell just short.
|San Diego Padres | 2013: 76-86|
Like the D-Backs, the Padres also had an identical record in both 2012 and 2013, which is twice as disappointing after the club won 90 games in 2010. Even though they played half their games in one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks, the club allowed 700 runs and their team ERA of 3.98 was just higher than the league average mark. The Padres weren’t able to produce enough offence either as their 618 runs scored was the seventh fewest last year.
Joaquin Benoit, RP — 1.6 fWAR | Signed two-year, $15.5 million deal
Josh Johnson, SP — 0.5 fWAR | Signed one-year, $8 million deal
Seth Smith, OF — 1.1 fWAR | Acquired via trade with Oakland Athletics in exchange for RHP Luke Gregerson
Xavier Nady, OF — -0.8 fWAR (2012) | Signed minor league contract
Alex Torres, RP — 1.3 fWAR | Acquired with RHP Jesse Hahn via trade with Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for 2B Logan Forsythe, RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Matt Andriese, RHP Matt Lollis, and 2B Maxx Tissenbaum
Jesus Guzman, 1B/OF — 0.0 fWAR | Traded to Houston Astros in exchange for 2B/3B Ryan Jackson
Logan Forsythe, 2B — 0.0 fWAR
Ronny Cedeno, SS — -0.7 fWAR | Signed minor league deal with Philadelphia Phillies; Released
Jason Marquis, SP — -1.6 fWAR
Clayton Richard, SP — -1.2 fWAR
Colt Hynes, RP — -0.3 fWAR | Traded to Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash considerations
The Padres decided to hang on to third baseman Chase Headley for the upcoming year instead of dealing him while he still had a full season of team control remaining before becoming a free agent. Other than Headley, the lineup doesn’t really feature any elite level talent at the moment. Jedd Gyorko and Everth Cabrera are competent hitters and if Carlos Quentin is able to stay healthy he has proven to be a key part of the batting order. Catcher Yasmani Grandal is a prime breakout candidate for the Padres as long as he can put last year’s injury riddled campaign behind him.
Petco Park is widely regarded as one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks around right now, and that certainly weighed into Johnson’s decision to sign a one-year deal in San Diego. When he’s been healthy he’s been as dominant as anyone, but keeping him on the field has been a very tall task; he’ll start 2014 on the disabled list with a strained right forearm. Ian Kennedy and Andrew Cashner are a pair of dependable arms that’ll sit atop the rotation, but big seasons will be required out of starters like Eric Stults and Tyson Ross if the Padres are to make the playoffs. The signing of Benoit will help shore up the bullpen by giving it another needed veteran presence.
There certainly is enough talent on the club to win 80 or more games, but the Padres will need career years from more than a few players if they hope to taste October baseball once again. They could be a surprise club if everything can go right.
|San Francisco Giants | 2013: 76-84
It’s been just over a year since the Giants were celebrating their second World Series title in three years. For the first time since 2008 the club finished with a record below the .500 mark and were a full 16 games behind the division winning Dodgers. Pitching was a strength of San Francisco’s during their championship runs, but their team ERA of 4.00 placed them outside of the top 20 teams. Their offence wasn’t a whole lot better as they only managed to produce 629 runs in 2013.
Michael Morse, OF — -1.6 fWAR | Signed one-year, $6 million deal
Tim Hudson, SP — 1.7 fWAR | Signed two-year, $23 million deal
JC Gutierrez, RP — 0.2 fWAR | Signed minor league contract
Kameron Loe, RP — -1.2 fWAR | Signed minor league contract; Released
David Huff, RP — 0.0 fWAR | Acquired via trade with New York Yankees in exchange for cash considerations
The Giants elected to retain their key free agents this winter in Tim Lincecum and Hunter Pence who signed two and five-year contracts respectively. Hudson could prove to be a nifty little pick up as he’ll help solidify the rotation that includes himself, Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong. Perhaps the key to the pitching staff will be lanky right-hander, Lincecum, who hasn’t been able to find his Cy Young form once again but has shown improvement recently. San Francisco is finally free of the Zito contract that become increasingly burdensome as the former ace was unable to turn his struggles around over the last couple seasons.
Offensively, there aren’t many that do it better than catcher Buster Posey who had a down season by his standards in 2013. Pablo Sandoval has shown signs of being an elite power bat but still has plenty to prove as he enters his contract year. How much value Morse can reasonably be expected to provide is pretty minimal, but he was the only real addition to an offence that could’ve used a boost. Although if a guy like Brandon Belt can take another step forward, the Giants may not require an outside piece to shift their offence out from under the mediocre title.
Overall, the Giants aren’t really that much improved heading into 2014, but there’s plenty of potential for players to produce more than they have in recent memory and it appears the team is counting on rebound seasons from a couple players. There’s plenty of talent on the roster, that much is for sure, but it’s going to take a couple welcome surprises for the club to get back into the playoffs this year.
|Colorado Rockies | 2013: 74-88
It’s been a tough couple seasons for the Rockies who’ve been holding down the basement in the NL West. Despite the losing record, the club still manage to score the tenth most runs in the league with 706, but it was their pitching that once again let them down. Their team ERA of 4.44 and the 760 runs they allowed were both the third highest marks in all of baseball last year.
Justin Morneau, 1B — 0.8 fWAR | Signed two-year, $12.5 million deal
Boone Logan, RP — 0.3 fWAR | Signed three-year, $16.5 million deal
Jason Pridie, OF — 0.7 fWAR (2011) | Signed minor league contract
LaTroy Hawkins, RP — 0.8 fWAR | Signed one-year, $2.5 million deal
Paul Janish, SS — -0.2 fWAR | Signed minor league contract
Jordan Lyles, SP — 0.4 fWAR | Acquired with OF Brandon Barnes via trade with Houston Astros in exchange for OF Dexter Fowler
Brandon Barnes, OF — 1.0 fWAR
Brett Anderson, SP — 0.3 fWAR | Acquired with $2 million via trade with Oakland Athletics in exchange for LHP Drew Pomeranz and RHP Chris Jensen
Drew Stubbs, OF — 0.8 fWAR | Acquired via trade with Cleveland Indians in exchange for LHP Josh Outman
Franklin Morales, SP/RP — 0.1 fWAR | Acquired via trade with Boston Red Sox in exchange for 2B/SS Jonathan Herrera
It was a busy past couple months for Colorado who added several pieces via trade and free agency. Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Michael Cuddyer make up the heart of the lineup that will be joined by Stubbs and Morneau, who will replace Helton at first base after his illustrious career with the Rockies came to an end. The departure of Fowler leaves some big shoes to fill at the top of the batting order, but Barnes is an interesting piece who could turn a few heads in the upcoming year.
When Anderson has managed to stay healthy, he’s been a very effective starter, but like with the Padres’ acquisition of Josh Johnson, keeping him on the mound has proven to be difficult. The former Oakland Athletic does appear to be playing at full health and reports out of camp this spring have been positive however. Anderson will be joined in the rotation by Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio, Tyler Chatwood, and Jhoulys Chacin once he returns from injury.
The Rockies appear to be a fringe contender at most in 2014, but with Tulowitzki and Gonzalez in the lineup it’s hard to count them out just yet. If the rotation can stay healthy and perform well, Colorado may be able to sneak in to the playoffs, but they could just as easily find themselves at the bottom of the division once again.
*All player WAR’s shown are via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.