Shortly after the All-Star break, the Dodgers appeared to need a massive roster overhaul, as they were double digits under .500 and double digits out of first place. The late-season revival, led by a number of young players with cheap salaries, has GM Ned Colletti believing the Dodgers are close to the playoffs and now only need slight tinkering.
BIGGEST NEEDS: Another bat in the middle of the lineup. Free agent 1B Prince Fielder would be perfect, yet very expensive. If RHP Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, a No. 2 or 3 starting pitcher will be needed to replace him.
FREE AGENTS: C Rod Barajas, INF Aaron Miles, INF Jamey Carroll, 3B Casey Blake, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, RHP Jonathan Broxton, RHP Jon Garland, RHP Vicente Padilla, RHP Mike MacDougal.
Colletti would like to bring back Barajas, but it will have to be at the right price. Miles and Carroll were quality veteran leaders who played more (and better) than expected, but only one is needed when rookie Justin Sellers can do the same. Broxton, coming off an injury, is doubtful to return. Padilla has been sidelined most of the past two years by injuries, but he's been effective when healthy and could return on the cheap. The options of Garland and Blake were declined.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: 1B James Loney, CF Matt Kemp, RF Andre Ethier, LHP Hong-Chih Kuo, LHP Clayton Kershaw.
The Dodgers would like to lock up Kemp and Ethier to long-term contracts before they become free agents after the 2012 season. Kershaw has three years left until free agency, so a long-term deal is possible, but he could go year to year. Kuo is a tough non-tender decision, and he might retire. Loney will remain unless a big-bopper free agent is signed.
IN LIMBO: 3B Casey Blake, RHP Jon Garland.
Blake and Garland had options that weren't exercised. While there's often chatter about the Dodgers trading RF Andre Ethier this winter, Colletti continues to insist he wants Ethier long-term.
--INF Juan Uribe (sports hernia surgery in September 2011) should be ready well before spring training.
--RF Andre Ethier (arthroscopic right knee surgery) in September 2011) should be ready well before spring training.
--RHP Rubby De La Rosa (Tommy John surgery in August 2011) won't return before August 2012.
--RHP Jonathan Broxton (arthroscopic right elbow surgery in September 2011) should be able to begin a throwing program in late October or November.
--LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (arthroscopic left elbow surgery in October 2011) was expected to recover in six to eight weeks, which means he should be ready for spring training.
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