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Dodgers must address their thin starting rotation when the lockout ends

Jorge Castillo, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers never expected to retain all their marquee free agents this winter. They braced for seismic changes. The question for Andrew Friedman and his front office colleagues was how many they would lose in this pivotal offseason. That didn’t make Wednesday any easier.

The day started with pitcher Max Scherzer donning a New York Mets cap on an introductory videoconference call from Texas, where he was representing the players’ union in labor negotiations with owners. Hours later, a few miles down the road, shortstop Corey Seager wore a Texas Rangers jersey for the first time at Globe Life Park in Arlington, his home for the next 10 seasons.

The Dodgers managed to re-sign the versatile Chris Taylor before the collective bargaining agreement expired and owners imposed a lockout Wednesday night. It was a positive finish to a difficult day for the franchise and its fans. It can always get worse.

It didn’t take long for MLB owners to impose a lockout once the collective bargaining agreement expired. It may take a long time before the game is played again.

Pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, the two longest-tenured Dodgers, remain unsigned. Jansen, the franchise’s all-time saves leader, is not expected to return. But the Dodgers hold hope that Kershaw will choose them over joining Seager to play for his hometown Rangers. Seager, now on the other side, is trying to lure the future Hall of Famer away.

“I’ve had some talks with Kershaw, for sure,” Seager said when asked if he’s tried recruiting Kershaw.

 

The Dodgers didn’t offer Kershaw a qualifying offer last month because they didn’t want to pressure him as he makes his decision, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Kershaw, meanwhile, is rehabbing from an elbow injury and wants to make sure he’s healthy before signing with a team.

Losing Kershaw would be an emotional split. The Dodgers are the only franchise he has known. They drafted him in 2006. He made his major league debut two years later and exorcised his postseason demons 12 years later when the Dodgers won the 2020 World Series. He epitomizes one of the most successful stretches in club history. He’s the face of the franchise and an icon in Southern California.

But Scherzer’s departure — he left for $130 million over three years — also makes a reunion important for baseball reasons because starting pitching is the Dodgers’ most pressing need.

The Dodgers are already working under the premise that Trevor Bauer will never pitch for them again. The questions are if Major League Baseball will suspend him without pay after he was accused of sexual assault, for how long, and when they’ll determine the discipline. MLB’s investigation remains ongoing. The discipline’s timing and length could affect the Dodgers’ offseason activity.

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