Andrew Friedman left his post as executive vice president of the Tampa Bay Rays to join the Los Angeles Dodgers. What does that mean for the Colorado Rockies and the rest of the National League West?
The man who has been regarded as one of the best executives in baseball is now in the National League West.
If you had to name one executive who had earned a unanimous benefit of the doubt in recent seasons, it would have to be Andrew Friedman. When the Rays made a move, you just figured it must be the right move because it was the Rays’ brain trust who executed it.
Friedman and Joe Maddon would build World Series contending teams with no money and a disinterested fan base. Now, the master of making creative moves to maximize his resources has the following advantages with which to work after joining the Dodgers:
- A talented and deep roster
- A starting rotation built around Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and the criminally underrated Hyun-Jin Ryu
- A bottomless payroll
There are some challenges that will be new for Friedman. He will have to work around bad contracts and a total mess in the outfield. He will have to decide what to do about Hanley Ramirez as the veteran shortstop hits free agency. But really, any limitations imposed by the overspending of the Dodgers in recent seasons cannot be more restrictive than the limitations of having no money in Tampa Bay for all those years.
If you’re telling me that Friedman’s primary challenges are to name his general manager, rebuild a bullpen, decide what to do with overpaid, over-the-hill players, all with the payroll to use as a magic eraser on some past missteps, then I’m going to tell you that is a frightening situation for the Rockies and the rest of the division.
Some are skeptical that the skills Friedman displayed to build a small-market success story will necessarily translate or be that apparent with the Dodgers. I disagree. Let’s pluck a couple examples to consider.
First, let’s look at a potential move Friedman could make this winter. Russell Martin is a free agent. His value is through the roof because of his offensive skills and because of the positive influence he has defensively. To add Martin is to immediately boost your pitching staff at least a little bit. The Rockies want him, but the Dodgers want him too. Here’s betting that the Dodgers offer him a pile of money and that it will be the right decision.
Now let’s look at a move from the previous regime. The Dodgers signed Brandon League to a four-year, $27.5 million deal before 2012. Brandon League! We have no way to know if a Friedman front office would have executed that deal or not, but I feel pretty comfortable in saying that he would have shut that nonsense down before it started.
If we want to assume Friedman will be successful in Los Angeles, part of that success will come from knowing when to overspend. That will be the difference we see with Friedman in charge; we will see a difference in how the Dodgers spend huge amounts of money as the current evil empire. If the Dodgers start to pick their spots more carefully as they bully the competition with their payroll, that’s when Friedman’s impact will be felt.
That’s what makes this development scary for the NL West and for the rest of the National League.