Show me the money. Or at least that is what the Dodgers are telling FOX.
Earlier this week, it was reported the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to receive $6 billion over 25 years from FOX Sports for local cable television rights. FOX’s current deal with the Dodgers, which amounts to about $40 million per year, expires after the 2013 season. The belief was FOX wanted to ink a new deal on or prior to November 30th since that is the date their window to be the exclusive bidder for broadcast rights closes. Alas, the waiting is the hardest part. No deal has been confirmed as December kicks in.
Winter meetings are usually more bark than bite but the meetings of 1971 saw 53 players switch teams. Future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson became a Dodger for one, albeit disappointing, season (.251, 19 home runs).
The Dodgers are now free to entertain other offers for their TV rights and perhaps continue their move towards starting their own network, a la the Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers.The timing of a new TV deal appeared perfect -baseball’s winter meetings kick off in Nashville on December 3rd and the additional $250 million a year FOX would be anteing might have given the Blue Crew all the ammunition they’d need to add some big names to their roster. Of course, any team making a big splash at this annual event is somewhat of a rarity.
History has shown that these meetings are used more as “window shopping” opportunities where teams simply discuss who may be available more than actually pulling the trigger on roster changes. Many baseball historians agree that you have to go all the way back to 1971 to find a winter meeting where the walk actually backed up the talk. That year, there were 15 trades involving 53 players, including aging great Frank Robinson going from the Orioles to the Dodgers, and emerging great Joe Morgan going from the Astros to the Reds.
The Dodgers are in hot pursuit of a starting pitcher since, as of right now, Josh Beckett, and his questionable work ethic, is the #2 man behind Clayton Kershaw. Starters Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly are fighting back from injuries that ended their 2012 season prematurely. Chris Capuano has fallen out of favor. He was 9-4 at the All-Star break but won just three of eleven starts afterwards.
It has been confirmed that the Dodgers have spoken to the best free agent pitcher available, Zack Greinke. Greinke, 15-5 in 2012 between the Brewers and Angels, is likely looking for something in between the 6 year, $144 million deal Cole Hamels signed with the Phillies and C.C. Sabathia’s 7 year, $161 million deal with the Yankees.
The Dodgers may also talk to pitcher Annibal Sanchez if Greinke’s asking price turns them off.
The Dodgers second biggest need is probably depth in the outfield. Since Manny Ramirez was discarded in 2010, the Dodgers have been unable to find a solid, everyday left fielder. Carl Crawford, one of the big names that came over in the trade with Boston, is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Reports are he will probably not be ready until the season is well underway. There are a couple of “non-headlining” outfield free agents that could fill in nicely, if they don’t mind possibly moving to the number 4 outfielder spot once Crawford returns.
The much traveled Ryan Ludwick, 35, hit 26 home runs with 80 RBI for the NL Central champion Reds last year. He recently declined a mutual option to re-sign with them.
There is talk that the defending World Series champion Giants are on the fence about signing Angel Pagan. Pagan, 30, won’t add much in the power department (8 home runs in 2012) but he did bat .288 with a league leading 15 triples. Even if Pagan is available, the Dodgers may not want to take a shot with signing another Giant.
The Dodgers enticed pitcher Jason Schmidt away from their hated rivals in 2006 and infielder Juan Uribe was signed to a three year deal in 2011. Schmidt was injured for all but 10 games over three years. Meanwhile, Uribe has hit a paltry 10 home runs and batted below .200 in his two years as a Dodger. He finished 2012 on the bench and in the doghouse.
The Dodgers may also be searching for catching depth. They declined an option to re-sign Matt Treanor, last season’s back up to starter A.J. Ellis(.270, 13 HR). The Dodgers appear ready to give prospect Tim Federowicz the number 2 spot unless a solid veteran becomes available.
Federowicz had a decent season in Triple A batting .294 with 11 home runs. He only has 16 at bats at the major league level.
As far as trade bait, if the Dodgers do land Greinke, they could offer up Capuano or pitcher Aaron Harang as bait to a team looking to add a number 4 or 5 veteran starter.