Here is Buster Olney's 7 things the Dodgers need to do this offseason.
Don Mattingly spoke to his players after the Dodgers' loss to the Mets Thursday night in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, and mentioned how abruptly this always seems to end. In one instant, you're fighting for a championship and one swing of the bat away from putting yourself in position to make that happen, and the next instant, you've been ejected from the postseason and the long winter has started.
As with all teams with huge payrolls, there could be lots of changes for the Dodgers.
Some moves the Dodgers should make this offseason.
1. Re-sign Zack Greinke, i.e., pay the man.
Greinke spoke with reporters after the Dodgers' loss and was asked about his future with the team. His personal preference was to work out a deal with the Dodgers months ago and that didn't happen, and since then, his leverage has only increased: He's coming off a season in which he posted the lowest ERA by any pitcher in two decades.
Greinke turns 32 later this month and generally the industry is veering away from giving mega long-term deals to older pitchers. But Greinke may be an outlier, because he is a phenomenal athlete, he is in excellent condition while having little history of arm trouble, and he knows how to pitch at different speeds. When he needed extra velocity against Yoenis Cespedes in Game 5, he pumped up his fastball to 95 mph, but also has a great changeup and breaking ball, and should transition well as he ages and loses some velocity.
There probably will be some team willing to give Greinke a five- or six-year deal, but the Dodgers should make this happen. This is their advantage (and the Yankees have it as well) as a team with a massive stack of chips: They can sign a player to a long-term deal without fretting about the production in the last couple of years of the contract.
It might not be the most efficient deal, but the Dodgers should worry about 2016 more than about Greinke's production in 2020. If they lose Greinke -- a pitcher they know well, a pitcher who has performed for them -- they will have to find somebody to replace the right-hander, who, along with Clayton Kershaw, propped up a flawed team and helped it win the NL West again.
Failing to sign Greinke would be a case of the Dodgers being penny-wise and pound-foolish. They need him, they can pay him, and they should pay him whatever it takes to keep him.
The futures of Don Mattingly and Zack Greinke are two of the biggest questions facing the Dodgers this offseason. Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports
2. Decide whether Don Mattingly is the manager they want.
By all accounts, Mattingly has a good working relationship with Andrew Friedman and his staff. There is mutual respect, and Mattingly has been open-minded about the information brought to him by the Dodgers' staff.
But the more pertinent issue is this: Is Mattingly the manager who Friedman wants to lead his team? Or is it someone like Bud Black? Or is it somebody else?
And what does the Dodgers' ownership want, after the team has repeatedly failed to advance deeper into the offseason.
Some related questions that I'd have, after watching Mattingly manage the series against the Mets: How much fun is he having? Does he want to continue as the manager of the Dodgers? Because he certainly doesn't seem to be enjoying himself as much as when he became manager of the team.
Friedman has demonstrated he is willing to shake things up, given the recent firing of many folks within the organization's scouting and player development staffs.
3. Add another high-end starting pitcher.
It appears that Alex Wood probably isn't going to be exactly what they hoped he would be, given the regression of his fastball, and there's no telling how Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy will bounce back after breaking down in 2015. Even if the Dodgers re-sign Greinke, they still need a high-end starting pitcher -- or, at the very least, a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy -- in support of Kershaw.
4. Pick a direction with Yasiel Puig.
Puig got one start in the series against the Mets and on that day, he arrived at the ballpark on the last bus from the hotel, wasn't with his teammates at the outset of the team's stretch and cut short his time in the batting cage. For the Dodgers' staff, it was just another day in the life with Puig.
The Dodgers need to decide what to do with him, and if they believe he'll blossom into the star everybody thinks he can be, then the front office and the next manager need to be OK with living with his quirks -- such as not always showing up on time. They have to be sure the other players are OK with this.
What they should not do is hang onto him with the idea of rebuilding his trade value and then flipping him; either commit to him or move him. When Friedman ran the Tampa Bay Rays, he had a similar situation with the gifted Elijah Dukes, whose personal issues were a lot more serious than those of Puig. Dukes had one issue after another and while there was sentiment within the organization to move him in a trade to get him out of the clubhouse, the fear within the front office was that they would trade Dukes and he would eventually figure things out with another team and become a star.
So Tampa Bay waited and waited and waited, while players regarded Dukes' presence in the clubhouse as onerous.
In running the Dodgers, Friedman shouldn't worry so much about possibly squandering value. If he and the other staffers believe Puig won't improve and will continue to be a problem, they should trade him this winter, even if they accept less than perfect value in return. Other players on that team need Puig to be more consistent in his work habits in order to help the team be successful, and if that doesn't happen, his presence will be an unwanted distraction.
5. Retain Howie Kendrick.
In theory, the Dodgers could give Kendrick a qualifying offer, and if he signs elsewhere, they'd get a draft pick in return. But if Kendrick leaves, that will leave a gaping hole at second base and in their clubhouse. Kendrick is a really good player and they should keep him.
6. Collect more bullpen depth.
This was a problem in 2015 that needs to be addressed more effectively in 2016.
7. Figure out how to build some better clubhouse culture.
This might be the most difficult challenge for Friedman and his staff, to take on the murky issue of how players relate to the organization and each other. But players say privately that while the camaraderie was improved in 2015 over 2014, there was a pervasive sense of distance in the clubhouse. The Dodgers changed their roster and their lineup constantly, and some players felt they weren't sure whether Mattingly or the front office was responsible for a given decision. They felt unsettled, and the relationships were tenuous, because for others besides Kershaw and Adrian Gonzalez and a handful of others, there was no sense about who might be headed out the door and who might arrive. Some players spoke about a diminished sense of investment in each other.
When you’re around the Cardinals, Giants and Pirates, the clubhouses ooze with mutual respect and esprit de corps. For whatever reason, the Dodgers don't seem to have that.
When Friedman ran the Rays, he had to make a lot of changes out of budgetary necessity, indoctrinating young players all the time as the players with higher salaries were cycled out. Clubhouse peace was maintained and fostered because the Rays had a lot of less experienced players establishing themselves in the big leagues.
But with a team loaded with veterans, that sort of turnover might be a problem, and fuel a cynicism. Somehow and some way, the Dodgers need more stability and more culture continuity. Otherwise, it'll continue to feel like a clubhouse full of temps resigned to their lineup and roster fate.
The Dodgers have Kershaw and one of the best young players in the game in Corey Seager, and other talented pieces to their roster. But for a team that spent more than $300 million, they have a surprising number of holes that need to be fixed before they advance deeper into the postseason.