Los Angeles Dodgers: 2016 Offseason Report Card

 Source: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images North America

Source: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images North America

Say the name “Andrew Friedman” to a group of rabid Dodger fans, and who knows what kind of answer you’ll get? The man who helped turn around the Tampa Bay Rays just completed his second offseason as president of the Dodgers’ baseball operations, in which he cemented his status as the most divisive figure in Chavez Ravine. It’s no secret that the past few months have gone far differently than pretty much every Dodger fan envisioned or hoped following another heartbreaking NLDS loss in 2015; the fact that the team even got to that point, however, may be Friedman’s greatest accomplishment in his Dodgers career thus far. Take a look at last year’s opening day starting lineup:

  • SS Jimmy Rollins – Produced 0.2 WAR in 130 games before losing his job in September to a 21-year-old
  • RF Yasiel Puig – Only played 79 games in which he hit career lows in nearly every offensive statistic imaginable, including a 40-point drop in batting average and 45-point drop in wRC+
  • 1B Adrian Gonzalez – Played entire season as 33-year-old despite several nagging injuries, was team’s only consistent source of offense throughout entire season
  • 2B Howie Kendrick – Missed five weeks during pennant race due to severe hamstring strain, prompting team to trade for Chase Utley, who slashed .216/.303/.375 in his place
  • LF Carl Crawford – Missed three months due to oblique tear, during which he lost his starting job to Andre Ethier, and proceeded to have his worst season since 2011
  • 3B Juan Uribe – traded to Atlanta in May to open space for Justin Turner, who did very well despite playing through a chronic knee injury that required regular days off and spending three weeks on the DL with an MRSA infection
  • CF Joc Pederson – Went from All-Star starter (.230/.364/.487, 137 wRC+) in the first half to sub-replacement level (.178/.317/.300, 79 wRC+) in the second half, eventually losing his job to utilityman Enrique Hernandez
  • C A.J. Ellis – started out behind eventual All-Star Yasmani Grandal on the depth chart; promoted to starter after a shoulder injury caused Grandal’s offensive production to implode

Add that to a bullpen that was extremely shaky for most of the season and a rotation that dealt with the loss of its number-three and number-four starters, and it’s almost a miracle the Dodgers won 92 games and their division — even with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke leading the way. But if fans weren’t satisfied with that, guess what: neither was the front office. After all, the St. Louis Cardinals had even worse injury luck and went 100-62.

This all goes to say that if there was ever an offseason to accumulate quality depth over chasing stars, it would be this one, and that’s exactly what Friedman and his front office did. In some cases, the choice was intentional; in others, uncontrollable circumstances forced the Dodgers to cut their losses and move on. The result was a winter that left the 2016 Dodgers with less top-flight talent but a roster that caused Gonzalez to dub them “the deepest team in baseball.”

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