3. Are the Dodgers really going to get cheaper and younger?
That’s been the stated goal from day one, according to President and CEO Stan Kasten. Kasten, a longtime MLB executive himself, has long preached the benefits of a strong farm system and young big-league core. His influence can easily be seen on many personnel decisions, such as the Dodgers’ reluctance to trade premium prospects for Cole Hamels or David Price at last year’s trade deadline.
The spending spree to add highly-paid veterans such as Zack Greinke and Adrian Gonzalez was only a temporary fix to skip a rebuilding phase while the farm system was resurrected, according to Kasten. Now that the Dodgers have one of the top prospect groups in the majors, it’s time for what he’s dubbed “Phase Two” — bring the massive payroll down and the level of young talent up. The Dodgers have already taken great strides in this respect. Here’s a list of key players currently on their roster that are 25 years old and under:
- Yasiel Puig, starting right fielder
- Joc Pederson, starting center fielder
- Corey Seager, starting shortstop
- Jose Peraza, second baseman/shortstop
- Enrique Hernandez, utility infielder/outfielder
- Yimi Garcia, relief pitcher
- Alex Wood, starting pitcher
That’s a good start, and 19-year-old pitching phenom Julio Urias is set to join that list sometime in 2016. However, the Dodgers still have a long way to go before they can slash their payroll, and the temptingly deep free-agent class this winter could delay the Dodgers’ cost-cutting plans altogether. They’ve already expressed interest in 33-year-old setup man Darren O’Day to bolster their lackluster bullpen, but O’Day will command an expensive four-year deal. The Dodgers are also interested in adding another hitter (they scored fewer runs in the second half than anyone in baseball except the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves) and a mid-rotation arm through free agency, especially since Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy are coming off a torn labrum and Tommy John Surgery, respectively.
Their most important — and expensive — roster hole, however, …