LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Thursday the team's priorities going into next season involve adding a starting pitcher, keeping the bullpen intact, and improving the bench.
Colletti and the rest of the front office were in meetings to plan for 2013 a day after the Dodgers' season ended without making the playoffs for the third straight year and first under new ownership. The team hasn't won the World Series since 1988.
The Dodgers began the season in bankruptcy under former owner Frank McCourt and ended it with an 86-76 record under new owners that include Magic Johnson and Mark Walter. The team's payroll ranked 12th in the majors at $94.7 million on opening day and rose to eighth at $129.1 million by season's end.
In July and August they added infielder Hanley Ramirez, reliever Brandon League, outfielder Shane Victorino, and pitcher Joe Blanton, and in a blockbuster deal acquired pitcher Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and infielder Nick Punto from the Boston Red Sox, catapulting their payroll into the stratosphere.
Beckett is due $31.5 million over the next two years; Gonzalez has $127 million coming through 2018; and Crawford is due $102.5 million over the next five seasons.
"It's been a season with a lot of movement and additions of high-caliber players," Colletti said. "Today compared to a year ago, we're in much better shape."
The Dodgers on Thursday sent pitcher Rubby De La Rosa and outfielder-first baseman Jerry Sands to Boston as the players to named later in the Aug. 25 deal, having already sent first baseman James Loney, pitcher Allen Webster and infielder Ivan De Jesus to the Red Sox.
"We're going to keep looking for opportunities," team president Stan Kasten said.
Even with their high-priced acquisitions over the season's last month, the Dodgers finished second in the NL West, eight games behind San Francisco. They were eliminated from postseason contention on the next-to-last day of the season, ending a roller-coaster ride in which they used a strong start to propel them into first place in the NL West before injuries took their toll as the summer wore on.
"I was impressed and heartened by the play in April and May when I thought we were overachieving," Kasten said. "My expectations are that we will go further than 161 (games next year)."
Colletti said the Dodgers' 35-37 record against their division rivals "needs to get better."
The injury bug hit two of the Dodgers' biggest stars.
Slugger Matt Kemp had a hamstring injury in May before Andre Ethier had an oblique strain.
Kemp was scheduled for surgery on Friday. He has a torn labrum in his left shoulder, and depending on what doctors find, it could be cleaned up in a minor procedure or he could have the labrum repaired, which would sideline him for four months. After a terrific first month, he wound up hitting .303 with 23 home runs and 69 RBIs a year after being runner-up to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun for the NL MVP award.
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