The Dodgers were very busy this offseason. They had two specific needs to address, pitching depth and a quality backup catcher. Their new pitcher and catcher acquisitions should help them add a half dozen wins toward their over/under betting win total.
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The Dodgers’ over/under win total is high, but the sky is the limit for the Dodgers this season. The NL West is top-heavy and the bottom half of the division are easy wins. Win totals are easier to hit when you have a few dozen easy wins within your own division.
Which pitchers and catchers did the Dodgers sign and why are those signings so important?
The Dodgers lost Ricky Nolasco via free agency. He pitched key innings down the stretch and earned every penny after Los Angeles traded for him. How do you replace Nolasco in your rotation? Well, you sign Dan Haren and add Paul Maholm for starting pitching depth.
Haren had his best seasons on the West Coast with the A’s and Angeles. He is a California guy and has a home in nearby Irvine. He seems more comfortable and it helps he’s pitching for a World Series contender. Also, he’s on a one-year deal, so he can’t afford to have an off-year.
Paul Maholm isn’t any team’s #1 offseason free agent target. He’s the kind of pitcher a team settles with and by the end of the season, they look smart for signing him. It happened with the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. He’s not flashy, but very effective.
The Dodgers bullpen had issues in 2013. Brandon League was a joke as a closer and they even traded for Carlos Marmol in a failed attempt to fix their bullpen. This offseason, they signed former Cleveland closer Chris Perez and veteran reliever Jamey Wright. They did lose Ronald Belisario, but I expect Perez and Wright to take care of business.
An underrated signing is Miguel Olivo. I know what you’re thinking, the Dodgers already have A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz on the roster. Well, Olivo is a veteran and will push to get the best out of Ellis and Federowicz. Olivo may not make the final 40-man roster, but he’s invaluable to have around during Spring Training. If Federowicz develops into a well-rounded backup catcher, Olivo has done his job.
It’s easy to point out a team’s mega free agent signings, but under-the-radar signings turn a team from a contender to a World Series champion. The Boston Red Sox made smart middle-of-the-road free agent signings last season to pair with a few marquee signings. They went on to go from worst to first and win the World Series. The Dodgers learned from what Boston did and focused on depth and the development of young talent. It’s the perfect way to improve your team in just one offseason.