Los Angeles Dodgers: 2016 Offseason Report Card

Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Departures

Despite becoming the first and so far only manager to lead the Dodgers to three straight playoff appearances and earning the love and respect of his players (well, most of them, anyway), Don Mattingly never quite endeared himself to fans. Joe Torre‘s hand-picked successor often seemed in over his head with in-game tactical moves, especially early on in his time with the Dodgers. Even as Mattingly improved over time, he still showed questionable bullpen and pinch-hitter deployment throughout his Dodgers career — even as late as Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS against the Mets.

Mattingly’s tenure with the club was still an overall success, though. On top of the three straight division titles, the Dodgers were .500 or better in each of his five seasons overseeing the club. That included a stretch in which the team transitioned from the hamstrung mess of the Frank McCourt ownership to that of the ultra-rich Guggenheim Baseball Group and saw a major roster overhaul in the process, as well as tricky clubhouse situations mainly involving Yasiel Puig. Yet in a market such as Los Angeles and with the highest payroll in professional sports, simply getting to October wasn’t good enough to save Mattingly’s job. The Dodgers were expected by many to reach the World Series each of the past three seasons, and each year they came up just short. Soon after “mutually parting ways” with L.A., Mattingly was named manager of the Miami Marlins.

No player endeared himself to fans in 2015 more than Zack Greinke, thanks in part to a very favorable portrayal in the tell-all book “The Best Team Money Can Buy” (Molly Knight, the book’s author, has not been shy about her fondness for the pitcher) but more importantly because he was absolutely dominant last season. The Cy Young runner-up finished 2015 with a career-low 1.66 ERA despite a declining strikeout rate; not unrelated was his career low batting average and BABIP against (.185 and .229, respectively) and an impressive 21.7-percent soft contact rate. Greinke exercised an opt-out clause after the season, instantly becoming one of the most coveted free agents on the market, and kicking off a bidding war between the Dodgers and their archrival Giants for his services. Although the Dodgers were considered the favorites to re-sign their second ace, they weren’t able to nail down a deal to keep him in L.A. before the Arizona Diamondbacks swooped in with a six-year, $206.5 million offer to steal Greinke from both of their division rivals. It’s a huge blow to the Dodgers on every aspect, given that Greinke was both a favorite in the clubhouse and arguably the team’s best player besides Kershaw. His loss means that the Dodgers can no longer rely on a dominant 1-2 rotation punch to carry them to a division title like they have for the past three seasons.

The Dodgers also shipped off a couple of their more intriguing prospects in the Todd Frazier deal, with Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, and Buck Britton heading to Cincinnati. Britton is simply organizational depth, but Peraza and Schebler both have major-league potential. The former is a speedster with solid defense up the middle and great baserunning instincts — the issue is whether Peraza can get on base enough for any of that to matter. The Reds sure seem to think so, as he was the main return in the Frazier trade. Schebler is a left-handed corner outfielder with some power in his swing and he could be in line for a double-digit home run season if he gets regular playing time in 2016. Of course, he was never going to get that in L.A. with Ethier, Pederson, and Crawford all ahead of him on the depth chart even when removing right-handers from the Dodgers outfield.

The Dodgers also let reliever Juan Nicasio walk after the ex-Rockies starter recorded a career-best 3.86 ERA and 2.83 FIP in his only season with the Dodgers. Despite being a solid bullpen piece for most of the 2015 season, Nicasio was left off the playoff roster after a rough September that saw him struggle with injury and post an ERA of 9.00 in 11 appearances. The righty took a one-year, $3 million deal with the Pirates, essentially swapping places with Blanton.

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