LOS ANGELES -- If you suspect that Dan Haren won’t bounce back or that Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley won’t regain their arm strength after surgery, you could argue that starting pitching depth is one of the Dodgers’ weaknesses heading into spring training.
And if you happened to represent one of the many free agent pitchers who remain unsigned, you might be compelled by this information to call Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. Several have. News that Masahiro Tanaka had agreed to sign with the New York Yankees figures to spur more phone calls to Colletti.
He is listening, which is not exactly the same thing as looking, but could lead to the same result.
There has been a serious logjam of starting pitchers piling up during the Tanaka saga. Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Bronson Arroyo, among others, remain unsigned. Santana and Jimenez received qualifying offers, which means that landing them would cost the Dodgers a draft pick. That seems unlikely, given the team’s imperative to rebuild the farm system gutted by Frank McCourt. Neither Garza nor Arroyo received qualifying offers, which could put them in play.
But, just as in the Tanaka talks, other teams -- the Toronto Blue Jays come to mind -- could find their need for starting pitching compels them to out-bid the Dodgers, who might not need any more starters at all.
It’s worth noting that Billingsley and Haren both have significantly better career ERAs than Santana, Garza or Arroyo. Arroyo, 36, is significantly older than any of the Dodgers' current projected starters, though also remarkably durable. It also seems fairly likely that at least one of the Dodgers’ mature pitching prospects -- Zach Lee, Ross Stripling, Chris Reed or Matt Magill -- will prove ready to contribute significantly in 2014.
Having missed on Tanaka, the Dodgers might be best served to step aside for the remainder of the free agency period.