Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp

Running down the rosters: Los Angeles Dodgers

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Quantity over quality was the theme of the Dodgers’ winter. The team signed nine free agents for this year’s roster, none of whom will cost more than $4 million in 2012. Let’s dig right in…

Rotation
Clayton Kershaw
Chad Billingsley
Ted Lilly
Aaron Harang
Chris Capuano

Bullpen
Javy Guerra
Kenley Jansen
Matt Guerrier
Todd Coffey
Mike MacDougal
Scott Elbert
John Grabow

Disabled list: Blake Hawksworth (R)
SP next in line: Nathan Eovaldi (R), John Ely (R), Chris Withrow (R)
RP next in line: Josh Lindblom (R), Ramon Troncoso (R), Jamey Wright (R), Fernando Nieve (R)

The Dodgers allowed Hiroki Kuroda to walk as a free agent, replacing him with Harang and Capuano on two-year deals. It’s the second year in a row the Dodgers have tried signing a Petco pitcher. Jon Garland didn’t work out, though that was injury related, and it seems unlikely that Harang will either, given that he had a 4.70 road ERA last year. One would think they would have been quite a bit better off with Kuroda behind Kershaw and Eovaldi in the fifth spot, but at least now they have Eovaldi in reserve awaiting the inevitable Capuano injury.

The bullpen figures to be a strength, though that should have more to do with the youngsters than the vets. Jansen is one of the game’s best young relievers and will likely replace Guerra in the closer’s role before too long. Elbert had a 2.43 ERA in 33 1/3 innings after coming up last year, and Lindblom came in at 2.73 in 29 2/3. They’re further down the depth chart at the moment, but they’ll move up.

Lineup
SS Dee Gordon – L
2B Mark Ellis – R
RF Andre Ethier – L
CF Matt Kemp – R
1B James Loney – L
LF Juan Rivera – R
3B Juan Uribe – R
C A.J. Ellis – R

Bench
C Matt Treanor – R
INF-OF Jerry Hairston Jr. – R
INF Adam Kennedy – L
OF Tony Gwynn Jr. – L
OF Trent Oeltjen – L

Next in line: C Tim Federowicz (R), C Josh Bard (S), 1B-3B Josh Fields (R), INF Ivan De Jesus (R), INF Justin Sellers (R), OF Alex Castellanos (R), OF Jerry Sands (R), OF Scott Van Slyke (R), OF Cory Sullivan (L)

Things aren’t very encouraging here. The Dodgers boasted the NL’s best position player last year and still finished just ninth in the league in runs scored. A healthy Ethier will help, but Kemp can’t possibly be quite so good again and Ellis, the biggest acquisition of the bunch, is going to be a downgrade offensively from the departed Jamey Carroll.

I’d like it a little better if I could pencil in Sands, but it’s hard to imagine that the Dodgers committed $4.5 million to Rivera to become a bench player. Sands should be a starter eventually, whether it’s in left field or at first base.

Unfortunately, that’s the only infusion the team is likely to get this summer. No other minor leaguer figures to make much of an impact. If the Dodgers were particularly high on any of them, they wouldn’t have needed to bring in so many veterans over the winter.

It’d be a shame if the best years of Kemp and Kershaw are essentially wasted thanks to Frank McCourt’s money woes and GM Ned Colletti’s bumbling. But that’s what we’re looking at right now. The Dodgers were an 82-79 team last year and don’t figure to improve from there this season.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.