While there was talk last month about the Dodgers potentially being a player for Albert Pujols or Prince Fiedler this winter, it’s clear that’s not happening.
Sources told FOXSports.com that the Dodgers will enter 2012 with a payroll “well under” $100 million. The team opened 2011 with a $104.1 million payroll.
The moves the Dodgers have made to date support that assessment. The two-year deal given to Mark Ellis is structured so that he’ll receive $2.5 million next year and $5.25 million in 2013. Matt Kemp, who could have commanded as much as $16 million-$17 million in arbitration, will earn just $10 million next year as part of his eight-year, $160 million contract.
The FOXSports report goes on to state that the Dodgers have left enough flexibility in their budget to bring back both Andre Ethier and James Loney for what will be their final years of arbitration eligibility. The opportunity would be there for them to get both better and cheaper at first base, but Loney apparently was saved by his late-season surge.
As is, the Dodgers project to have just two standout regulars in Kemp and Ethier. Their lineup will probably look something like: SS Dee Gordon, 2B Ellis, CF Kemp, RF Ethier, LF Juan Rivera, 1B Loney, 3B Juan Uribe, C A.J. Ellis.
If this comes to pass as FOXSports expects, it will be the first time since 2006 that the Dodgers will open with a sub-$100 million payroll.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP