Ned Colletti has surprised me on several ocassions during this offseason, and he did so again today by picking up RHP Jon Garland on a one-year, $5 million contract (kudos to the Times’ Dylan Hernandez for breaking the story on Twitter).
As Dodgers fans know, Garland has averaged 190+ innings per year over the past nine years and is about as stable and reliable as they come, going 14-12 with a 3.46 ERA over 33 starts and 200 innings in 2010. The contract also includes a club option for 2012 for $8 million, along with an automatic kicker if Garland reaches 190 innings this season.
“We’re very pleased to have Jon join this group and give us five very strong starters going into Spring Training,” said General Manager Ned Colletti in a statement. “We saw what Jon was capable of down the stretch in 2009 and again last year within our division. Year after year, he takes the ball 30-plus times and gives his team a chance to win every time out.”
While I’m not totally surprised to see Garland back in Dodger Blue (he seemed to like it here in 2009), I am surprised to see him as the #5 starter on this team. Before the signings of Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda, I could have seen the Dodgers trying to get Garland and sliding him into a #3 or #4 slot, but getting him at the #5 position is just fantastic news and gives the Dodgers a very, very solid and impressive starting five…the best five starting pitchers we’ve seen in years in LA – certainly in the Frank McCourt era.
Per Ken Gurnick, the move also allows the Dodgers to shore up the bullpen a bit by sliding former #5 starters Carlos Monasterios back to the bullpen full-time while giving John Ely the chance to stay on the roster as the long-reliever (a role previously occupied by Jeff Weaver).
While the Dodgers recent spending spree in November has been impressive, at some point Ned & Co. need to turn their attention to the offense, and look for a power-hitting left-fielder and/or first baseman (if Loney is somehow traded). My gut tells me that Ned will most likely work on shoring up the bullpen first, figuring out who is going to catch all of these new starters and then pulling in a few aging sluggers to act as part-time players in left field and maybe at first or third. I just don’t see 2011 as the year that the Dodgers unload with a mega-contract for an Adam Dunn or a Carl Crawford, especially after the moves for Lilly, Kuroda and Garland. But then again, Ned has been full of surprises so far this offseason, so maybe we will get a Christmas Miracle after all.
Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2009