Brandon League: Dodgers the team to beat

The Dodgers play in a division with the team that has won the World Series two of the past three seasons. In fact, the San Francisco Giants are having a parade this very day to honor their latest championship team.

But none of that stopped new closer Brandon League from declaring his club the "team to beat," for 2013.

Nor did he back off that claim when given the chance. Speaking on a conference call with reporters the day after agreeing to a three-year, $22.5 million contract to stay in L.A., League said the Dodgers will have targets on their backs in 2013.

"The Giants had a great year. They won the games they needed to win," League said. "I think in 2013 the L.A. Dodgers are going to be the team everyone wants to beat, tries to beat. ... We're going to have a target on our back next year and we welcome it."

The Dodgers owners haven't been hesitant about trying to close the gap. The team is already committed to a payroll greater than $200 million next year and general manager Ned Colletti said he would also like to add a frontline starting pitcher this winter. The first order of business was keeping the bullpen intact, with League the centerpiece of that plan.

League grew up in Hawaii and lives in San Diego, so he said when the Dodgers made an aggressive proposal before other teams could even officially talk to his agents, he jumped at it.

"I didn't feel the need to test the market when the Dodgers were No. 1 on my list," League said.

It also helped that the Dodgers signed him to be a closer. He had been demoted to setup duties in Seattle before the Dodgers acquired him in July. He took over when Kenley Jansen went on the disabled list because of an irregular heartbeat and had a 0.55 ERA after Sept. 1.