AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas CityThat signals the unofficial beginning of an offseason that is starting way too soon for the Dodgers. The first order of business is an in-house evaluation of every player on the 40-man roster, plus a handful of prospects deemed close to being major league-ready. “We have to go through the club player by player,” Colletti said. “Some players take longer to discuss than others. There may be a position change or two, and there may be a role change or two that may need to be discussed.” Colletti wouldn’t get into specifics, but there is a reasonable possibility that fleet center fielder Juan Pierre will be asked to move to left field next season to make room for a stronger arm in center. That stronger arm could belong to Matt Kemp, who just completed his second year in the majors and whose potential remains off the charts, but who still is very much a work in progress. It also could belong to a yet-to-be-signed veteran, with Atlanta’s Andruw Jones and Minnesota’s Torii Hunter heading this winter’s list of free-agent center fielders. Or, it could be someone the club acquires in a trade. BASEBALL: Colletti and his staff will be busy for the majority of the offseason. By Tony Jackson STAFF WRITER After what passes for a week of rest and relaxation in the frenetic lives of Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti and his staff, the front office will get back to business this week when the club’s scouts and special assistants come to town for meetings. Likely American League MVP Alex Rodriguez, who is expected to exercise the escape clause in his New York Yankees contract, also could be on the Dodgers’ radar, especially given that third base is one of their biggest holes entering the winter. But Rodriguez will have no shortage of suitors, and he also will be expensive, commanding well in excess of his current annual average of more than $25 million. The Dodgers also will start looking at the list of potential six-year free agents – any player who has been in professional baseball for at least six years but isn’t presently on his organization’s 40-man roster – although those signings typically come later in the winter. Another major point on the agenda is the coaching staff. The contracts of every Dodgers coach expire this winter, and there will be changes. Interim hitting coach Bill Mueller is expected to return to the front office, and that position likely will be filled with an outside candidate. But there also could be other moves, and that is something Colletti and Manager Grady Little, who is signed for next year with an option for 2009, will need to resolve early. From there, Colletti and his staff must decide on three contract options for next season – although two of them really aren’t much of a decision. Infielder Ramon Martinez batted .194 this season, and with Tony Abreu, Chin-lung Hu and Wilson Valdez all in the fold to compete for utility roles, the club clearly won’t pick up Martinez’s $1 million option. And while pitcher Randy Wolf might be re-signed despite missing the second half of the season with a shoulder injury, it won’t be for anything close to the $9 million his club option calls for him to make if it is exercised. The other club option belongs to backup catcher Mike Lieberthal. Given that it’s a reasonable $1.5 million – just $350,000 more than Lieberthal’s 2007 salary – and given that Lieberthal might be the only man in baseball who won’t complain about catching so infrequently behind Russell Martin, it would seem a slam dunk that his option will be picked up. Those players must be told yes or no within five days after the end of the World Series. Colletti and Co. will travel to Orlando, Fla., in early November for the annual general managers’ meetings, an appetizer of sorts for baseball’s winter meetings a month later in Nashville, Tenn. Major deals are rarely consummated at the GM meetings, but the seeds for such deals are often planted through various conversations. Clubs also meet with agents for free-agent players to gauge whether the team is interested in the player and vice versa. “Looking over the potential list of free agents, it is a very thin list in many areas,” Colletti said. “As time goes on, that list is going to become thinner and thinner year by year. With revenue sharing, teams are signing players to long-term deals and locking them up. And if you go back to July and the trading deadline, that was something we had to consider in deciding whether to trade any of our young players, because how do you replace them?” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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