Rare is the year when the Dodgers lack quality starting pitching. But they might have to delve heavily into the free-agent market to maintain that asset.
The reigning National League West champions are expected to focus on starting pitching when open bidding on free agents begins Friday. After leading the league in overall ERA last season and tying for second in starters' ERA, the Dodgers could lose as many as three members of their season-ending rotation -- free agents Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland. Jeff Weaver, who started seven games, is also a free agent.
With approximately $40 million in salary coming off the books, Los Angeles should be able to obtain a starter or two in the free-agent market. The Dodgers already have been linked to John Smoltz, who's 42 but has won 213 games lifetime.
The Dodgers also have a vacancy at second base, since they don't plan on retaining free agent Orlando Hudson. Mark DeRosa, Placido Polanco and Felipe Lopez are among the free-agent replacements Los Angeles could be considering.