LOS ANGELES — After falling one victory short of winning the World Series, the Dodgers front office is motivated to tweak a roster that it expects will remain mostly intact next season.
Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, and general manager Farhan Zaidi are already exploring ways to end the team’s 30-year title drought.
Players have been cleaning out their lockers this week and the conversation has focused on making another run next year to finish what they didn’t in seven games against the Houston Astros, Friedman said Tuesday.
“We’re fortunate that a lot of the team is going to be coming back,” Zaidi said. “We don’t feel we have any glaring needs. We’ll continue to be opportunistic to improve the roster.”
The club boasted baseball’s highest payroll at $240 million and it’s in line to get a luxury tax bill of about $34 million in December. Whether the team is under the luxury tax next year is “still way too early to tell,” Friedman said.
Among the team’s free agents is pitcher Yu Darvish, who failed to get out of two innings in both of his World Series starts, including a 5-1 loss in Game 7 . Friedman didn’t rule out re-signing the Japan-born pitcher, who has said he wants to return.
Friedman said the front office is “monitoring closely” Shohei Otani of Japan, the star pitcher and outfielder whom he has scouted. He said it’s premature to discuss Otani, but added that playing two positions “is doable for someone who is talented enough to do both.”
Kenta Maeda spent most of the season in the rotation until working out of the bullpen in the postseason, and Friedman expects the Japanese pitcher to return to his starting role next year.
Friedman said he’s hopeful that shortstop Corey Seager will rehabilitate his right elbow without needing surgery. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who didn’t make the postseason roster because of a herniated disk, is expected to be healthy by spring training. The same goes for outfielder Andrew Toles (knee surgery) and pitcher Yimi Garcia (Tommy John surgery).
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt’s contract expired after the World Series, and he is expected to return, Friedman said, along with the rest of manager Dave Roberts’ coaching staff.
Friedman declined to discuss a contract extension for Roberts, saying only “we expect-slash-hope to work together for a long time.”
Zaidi said the staff is focused on hiring an assistant hitting coach to replace Tim Hyers, who left to take the same job with the Red Sox.
Friedman tamped down speculation that infielder Chase Utley might join the staff, saying he thinks the veteran wants to keep playing.
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