General manager Ned Colletti said on Friday that the Dodgers will focus more on adding pitching depth this offseason, as the team tries to recover from missing the playoffs for three straight seasons.
The Dodgers improved to 86-76 this year, two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card spot in the National League. Relief pitcher Brandon League, acquired by the Dodgers on July 30, saved six games in September for the Dodgers, and is one of seven pending free agents.
Colletti said he was encouraged by early talks with League, as the Dodgers hope to retain the reliever.
The Dodgers will also look to add a starting pitcher, Colletti said. The team has six starting pitchers under contract for 2013, but Ted Lilly is coming off shoulder surgery and Chad Billingsley is even more of a question mark, trying to recover from a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Billingsley will likely know by early November whether or not he will require surgery, which would likely keep him sidelined for all of next season.
One starter under contract for next season is Clayton Kershaw, who won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season. Colletti said he is open to the idea of signing Kershaw, 24, to a long-term contract extension this offseason, though he noted that he hasn't spoke with Kershaw nor his agents. Kershaw is due $13 million in 2013, including $2 million deferred from 2012. He has led the major leagues in ERA in each of the last two seasons.
The Dodgers have another question mark of sorts on the left side of their infield. Luis Cruz took control of the third base job in the second half of the season, hitting .297/.322/.431 in 78 games, and Hanley Ramirez moved back from third base to his original position of shortstop after his July 25 trade from the Marlins to the Dodgers. Those two figure to open next season as starters, barring a late charge from shortstop Dee Gordon, who hit .228 with a .280 on-base percentage before he tore a ligament in his right thumb on July 4.
"I'm not going to rule out Dee Gordon. But I'm not going to anoint him either," Colletti said. "We have some options over there."
Gordon is currently playing for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican winter league, and Colletti said Ramirez will get some work in at shortstop in the winter leagues as well. Colletti said it was unlikely that the Dodgers would acquire a shortstop or third baseman from the outside this offseason.
The Dodgers still haven't hired a hitting coach yet, two weeks after dismissing Dave Hansen on Oct. 12. Colletti said he has talked to a few people for the job, and that he might hire two people. Mickey Hatcher, who was hired as a special assistant to Colletti on June 26 and served as Angels hitting coach for nearly 13 seasons, is not a candidate for the role.