Andrew Friedman

MLB Rumors: Why Dodgers are more likely trade partners for Red Sox now

MLB Rumors: Why Dodgers are more likely trade partners for Red Sox now

Sometimes the best way to attack the market is to let it come to you.

The Red Sox didn't seem in any great rush to complete a major deal at last week's winter meetings in San Diego, in part because they recognized they weren't yet dealing from a position of strength.

Trying to move left-hander David Price when the market is flooded with pitchers isn't a recipe for maximizing your return. The same goes for the less palatable idea of trading Mookie Betts when a stud like World Series hero Anthony Rendon is still out there requiring nothing more than (a lot of) money to sign.

Fast forward a week, however, and the top end of the market suddenly features significantly more clarity. Gerrit Cole is gone. Rendon is gone. Stephen Strasburg is gone. Madison Bumgarner is gone. Zack Wheeler is long gone.

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As high-end options evaporate, the teams on the outside looking in should find themselves more agreeable to talking trade with the Red Sox. And the last 48 hours, in particular, have made one potential partner even more likely to place a call to Boston — the Dodgers.

L.A. began the offseason intent on swimming in the deepest end of the free agent pool. The Dodgers made a run at Cole, but watched him sign a $324 million deal with the Yankees. They targeted Rendon, only to have him join the crosstown Angels, in part because he had no interest in "the Hollywood lifestyle." They wanted Bumgarner, but instead will continue facing him in the division after he spurned them for the Diamondbacks.

When the meetings began, Dodgers boss Andrew Friedman said the team was focused on roughly 12 elite players available via either free agency or trade. While the Dodgers have been one of the league's most consistent franchises over the last five years, they've also become perennial bridesmaids, from losing two straight World Series to getting Howie Kendricked out of the NLDS this October.

They have the need and the resources to pursue an impact piece, and this is where the Red Sox enter the picture.

While Friedman didn't specify which 12 players were on his list, it's safe to say Cole, Rendon, Strasburg, and Bumgarner were four of them. Cleveland's surprising trade of two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to the Rangers potentially takes two Indians off the market, since the roughly $18 million in savings can be applied to franchise shortstop Francisco Lindor, another rumored target of L.A.

The next free agent to go could be former AL MVP Josh Donaldson, whom the Dodgers have reportedly engaged on, but who is expected to land with the Nationals or Braves.

So who's left? The Dodgers could re-sign defending NL ERA champ Hyun-Jin Ryu, though they seem inclined to let the 32-year-old walk away rather than guarantee him the four or five years he'll likely receive elsewhere. They could swing a deal for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, though Chicago's asking price is understandably expected to be through the roof.

Or they could call the Red Sox.

Multiple executives at the winter meetings connected the Dodgers to both Price and Betts last week. The former was considered untradeable when the offseason began, but that notion now appears inaccurate.

The Dodgers saw firsthand what Price can do in big moments when he dominated them twice in the 2018 World Series, a performance that should've won him the MVP instead of Steve Pearce. Even more importantly, Price has a longstanding relationship with Friedman, who picked him No. 1 overall in the 2007 MLB Draft and then promoted him to the big leagues a year later, just in time to record key outs in the ALCS against the Red Sox en route to Tampa's only World Series appearance.

Friedman knew Price when he was considered a tremendous teammate, and before he committed a series of high-profile missteps in Boston that needn't be rehashed here. It's fair to say his view of the pitcher is more favorable than that of Boston fans, which makes Price a classic change-of-scenery candidate, presuming his surgically repaired wrist and iffy elbow can pass a physical at age 34.

The Red Sox will almost certainly subsidize a huge chunk of the three years and $96 remaining on Price's contract. As the Dodgers get shut out of the rest of the starting pitching market, a Friedman reunion becomes more intriguing.

Then again, if the medicals scare them off, or if they find a pitcher in free agency, there's still Betts. The former AL MVP only fits so many payrolls next season, when he'll make close to $30 million. The Dodgers are one of them, however. And as we laid out earlier this offseason, they have the talent in their farm system to acquire him if they're willing to gamble that he'll re-sign in L.A. next fall.

There's still time for L.A. to land someone, and it's hard to imagine them being shut out, but then again, we're already halfway there. The names on their list are vanishing like so many beamed-up Trekkies, which puts the Red Sox in a position of power.

Chaim Bloom and Co. appear content to play the long game. Perhaps it pays off when the phone rings and it's Friedman, his old boss, wondering if he has a minute to talk about some big names.

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MLB rumors: Tampa ties make Dodgers, Angels strong contenders to acquire David Price

MLB rumors: Tampa ties make Dodgers, Angels strong contenders to acquire David Price

SAN DIEGO -- David Price made his name in Tampa Bay. Could he be reunited with either of the two architects of those breakout Rays teams this offseason?

The rumor mill is churning at the winter meetings, and according to a pair of rival executives, the Dodgers and Angels are considered prime landing spots if Price is moved this winter, partly because Price has a personal connection to both teams.

The Dodgers are run by Andrew Friedman, who drafted Price first overall out of Vanderbilt in 2007 while serving as Tampa's executive vice president of baseball operations. Price was one of the foundational pieces of Tampa's rise to prominence on Friedman's watch.

The Angels, meanwhile, just hired Joe Maddon to be their manager. He was Tampa's skipper when Price debuted in 2008 and reached the World Series, and he was still at the helm when the Rays traded Price to the Tigers in 2014.

Both men had strong relationships with Price, according to multiple sources, and would be open to a reunion.

A lot has to happen before Price changes teams, though. The Dodgers and Angels have been aggressive on the starting pitching market, despite losing the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes to the Yankees. The Dodgers have reportedly turned their attention to free-agent lefty Madison Bumgarner, while the Angels must upgrade one of the worst rotations in baseball. No Angels pitcher reached 20 starts last year and the starting ERA of 5.64 ranked last in the AL.

At this point, their interest is simply the stuff of rumors. Price may not be anything more than a fallback for either organization, and a number of solid starters remain unsigned, including Bumgarner, defending NL ERA champ Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers, and former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel.

If the Angels or Dodgers eventually turn their attention to Price, it wouldn't come as a surprise. Friedman and Maddon oversaw the best seasons of Price's career. He went 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA in parts of seven seasons with the Rays, making four All-Star teams and winning a Cy Young Award.

He has had a tougher go in Boston, but he did exorcise one demon by leading the Red Sox to a World Series in 2018 with a dominant postseason.

Any team acquiring him will have to be comfortable assuming all or most of the three years and $96 million remaining on his contract.

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Andrew Friedman announces he's staying with Dodgers, taking biggest name off board for Red Sox

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USA Today Sports Images

Andrew Friedman announces he's staying with Dodgers, taking biggest name off board for Red Sox

The Red Sox can cross the biggest name off their GM search before he was ever even an option.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman announced on Monday that he will finalize a deal to stay in L.A. "in the next couple of days." Friedman had technically become a free agent after the Dodgers' season ending in shocking fashion against the Nationals last week.

His five-year, $35 million contract expired, but the Dodgers moved quickly to lock up the 43-year-old, who has built consistent winners in both Tampa and Los Angeles and was considered the most intriguing candidate for the job of running the Red Sox, which opened up when the team parted ways with Dave Dombrowski in September.

With Friedman off the board and the Twins reportedly nearing a deal to extend Lynn native Derek Falvey as their chief baseball officer, the Red Sox have seen the candidate pool for their opening diminish before their search even starts. Before the season ended, the Diamondbacks took another name out of play by extending GM Mike Hazen, a Massachusetts native and former Red Sox executive. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein also declared his commitment to Chicago, though his contractual status hasn't changed.

One name that hasn't been taken off the board is Chaim Bloom, Tampa's VP of baseball operations. The 36-year-old Yale graduate oversees Tampa's baseball operations alongside Erik Neander, and the two guided the Rays to a wild card before taking the Astros to Game 5 of the ALDS.

Widely considered one of the most innovative franchises in the game, the Rays have reached 90 wins in two straight seasons despite fielding one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.

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