Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and we’re back to a semi-regular schedule after a brief hiatus while nothing exciting is happening. Guess what? We’re finally in a month that will have some baseball.
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There have been several minor Dodger transactions since we last spoke in mid-January. Let’s review:
—Tony Gonsolin avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $6.65-million deal. Gonsolin went 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA last season. He was great when he was out there, the problem is you never know how long he is going to be out there. A shoulder injury cost him some time in 2021 and a forearm injury cost him two months last season. He averaged a bit over five innings a start last season. That’s not entirely his fault as the Dodgers keep most of their starting pitchers on a short leash.
—Andrew Friedman said in an interview last week that he envisions the Dodger infield to be Freddie Freeman at first, Miguel Vargas at second, Gavin Lux at short and Max Muncy at third.
—In an interview Wednesday, Friedman said the Dodgers will probably exceed the luxury tax threshold this year. They had to pay a penalty of $32 million last season. This year’s threshold is $233 million, and the Dodgers are already at approximately $245 million. Friedman said they will not cut salary during the season to end up under the threshold (the team’s payroll at the end of the season is what counts). He also said that this shouldn’t impact future plans, so for those of you holding out for Shohei Ohtani in 2024, all is not lost.
—The Dodgers signed veteran right-handed reliever Matt Andriese to a minor league contract. Andriese, 33, pitched in Japan last season, finishing with a 2.03 ERA in 44 1/3 innings with the Yomiuri Giants. He pitched in the majors from 2015-21 and had a 4.63 ERA in 509 innings.
—Right-hander Jordan Yamamoto, 26, agreed to a minor league deal. Yamamoto has a 6.05 career ERA in the majors (19 starts, 96 innings) and spent last season in the minors for the New York Mets. He had a 6.00 ERA there.
—Right-hander Dylan Covey, 31, agreed to a minor league deal. Covey pitched in the majors from 2017-20 with a sparkling 6.57 ERA. He spent the last two seasons in Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League, where he had a 3.63 ERA in 198 1/3 innings.
—Right-handed reliever Wander Suero, 31, agreed to (stop me if you’ve heard this before) a minor league deal. He pitched for Washington from 2018-21, with a 4.61 ERA in 185 1/3 innings. He was in the minors with the Angels last season, finishing with a 6.08 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. I mean, if you aren’t good enough to make the Angels’ pitching staff…
—A minor league deal also went to right-hander Tyler Cyr. Cyr, 30, pitched for the Phillies and A’s last season. In Oakland he struck out 16 in 13 innings with a 2.08 ERA. Of the pitchers listed here, he seems to have the best shot of making the team, if not on opening day then later in the season.
You may be asking why this flurry of minor league deals? Keep in mind that the Dodgers are excellent at taking other teams rejects and turning them into gold. Odds are that at least one of the above will turn into a dependable reliever this season. And if they flame out in spring training, they can tuck them away in the minors or just release them with little cost to the team.
Look at a guy such as Evan Phillips. He had a 7.26 career ERA, comes to the Dodgers, and has had a 1.47 ERA in 73 1/3 innings. There’s a reason guys such as Noah Syndergaard take less money to play for the Dodgers: Their reputation as being able to fix pitchers in unmatched. Just ask Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney.
Longtime Dodgers scout Ralph Avila died Monday at 92. Avila led the organization’s efforts to develop players in Latin America, particularly in the Dominican Republic, during his tenure from 1970-99.
Among the major leaguers Avila had a hand in discovering and developing are Ramón Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Raúl Mondesí, Mariano Duncan, José Vizcaíno, Adrián Beltré, Alejandro Pena and Rick Rhoden.
“He was like a father figure,” Vizcaíno said. “He’s a legend, a pioneer of baseball.”
The Dodgers’ annual Fan Fest is Saturday. It’s free to get in (provided you get a digital ticket ahead of time). However, if you want to do anything interesting, make sure you take out a loan ahead of time.
Meet and greet Freddie Freeman: $250
Meet and greet Julio Urías: $250
Meet and greet Fernando Valenzuela: $250
Selfie with Gavin Lux, Brusdar Graterol, Miguel Vargas, Alex Vesia or Noah Syndergaard: $25 each
Clubhouse tour with locker photo: $95
Lunch with Steve Garvey: $150
Botanic garden tour: $45
Vin Scully press box experience: $45
Run the bases and a dugout photo: $25
Hands on history (Example: touch a bat used by Max Muncy): $60
Of course, if you want, you can buy and all-encompassing VIP package that includes all this and more for $1,995.
“Dad, can we go meet Freddie Freeman?”
“Sure son. He has been your favorite player for so long.” Dad looks into it.
“Sorry son, we’d have to dip into your college fund in order to afford it.”
I mean really, any kid who goes to Fan Fest and wants to meet one of the available Dodgers should be able to do so for free. Charging for this experience, at an event that is supposed to be for the fans, is ridiculous. And making kids pay, even more ridiculous. I don’t care if the money goes to charity.
The Dodgers should be ashamed. End of rant.
There will be a new voice filling in when main Dodgers TV broadcaster Joe Davis is busy with his Fox commitments: Stephen Nelson. Nelson is a local product, going to Marina High and Chapman University. In the past, he has called games for the MLB Network and the NHL Network.
Returning to the TV crew next season are: Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra, Eric Karros, Jessica Mendoza and Dontrelle Willis, who will all rotate as the color analyst throughout the season, just as they did last year.
The Dodgers have seven of the top 100 in MLB Pipeline’s list of the top prospects, trailing only the Baltimore Orioles, who have eight. Catcher Diego Cartaya is 14th overall, and is joined by right-hander Bobby Miller (No. 24), infielder Miguel Vargas (37), infielder Michael Busch (54), right-hander Gavin Stone (56), right-hander Ryan Pepiot (70) and outfielder Andy Pages (81).
What does this mean? Well, for fun, let’s look at the list of the Dodgers top 10 prospects in 2013:
1. Yasiel Puig, OF
2. Zach Lee, LHP
3. Joc Pederson, OF
4. Corey Seager, SS/3B
5. Chris Reed, LHP
6. Onelki Garcia, LHP
7. Matt Magill, RHP
8. Angel Sanchez, RHP
9. Tim Federowicz, C
10. Chris Withrow, RHP
Of those, Puig, Reed, Garcia, Magill, Sanchez, Federowicz and Withrow are no longer in MLB, while Lee is still toiling away in the minors.
The Dodgers have a couple of new coaches this season. Danny Lehmann replaces Bob Geren as the bench coach. Geren becomes the major league field coordinator. And Aaron Bates replaces Brant Brown as co-hitting coach. Brown is now the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins.
Lehmann has been the game planning/communications coach for the last three seasons.
A look at the 40-man roster:
That was certainly a lot of stuff to catch up on. Next time, we have a bit more fun as we discuss why this season may be the most exciting in recent memory, and why those expecting the banning of the shift will increase offense may be mistaken.
In case you missed it
Ralph Avila, who helped Dodgers develop a pipeline in Latin America, dies at 92
Dodgers agree to terms with pitcher Tony Gonsolin to avoid arbitration
Justin Turner wanted to re-sign with Dodgers before the plan quickly changed
Stephen Nelson to serve as Joe Davis’ primary fill-in on Dodgers broadcasts
Dodgers executives are ‘comfortable’ with decision to cut Trevor Bauer
How might another luxury tax bill affect the Dodgers’ future?
Stephen Nelson added to Dodgers play-by-play announcers. Watch and listen here.