NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Dodgers need a closer and Mark Melancon came off the board at the Winter Meetings on Monday, signing a four-year deal with the division-rival Giants.
But Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, indicated Melancon wasn't his Plan A, especially with franchise saves leader Kenley Jansen and triple-digit specialist Aroldis Chapman still available.
"There are a number of guys on the trade market and two elite guys on the free-agent market and everything is intertwined," said Friedman.
Kansas City reliever Wade Davis emerged as a logical Dodgers trade target, with one year left on his contract at $10 million more appealing than the five-year, $100 million paydays Jansen and Chapman might approach.
But if you read between the lines, Friedman might have indicated that an "elite" closer is not necessarily essential to start a season, even though the expanded use of Jansen, Chapman and Cleveland's Andrew Miller in the postseason might start a trend.
"Obviously, there's been a lot written about relievers and usage, especially in playoffs," he said. "Elite relievers have been valuable in the game and will continue to be really valuable in the game. But as far as how much it helps you in the regular season, I'm not sure it's changed from what people thought three years ago, five years ago, as far as leveraging them differently in the playoffs. There was more aggressive usage this past postseason. We'll have to see if that's a trend and see the toll it takes on guys."
Friedman said his Monday re-signing of Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal leaves the Dodgers with a surplus of starting pitching that should increase in trade value, considering an already thin free-agent market lost one of its best in Hill.