Then, in the 2015/2016 offseason the Dodgers books started to lighten up. Haren, Gordon, Kendrick and Rollins all came off the books as well as Zack Greinke and his $23 million. The Dodgers shifted into only paying Matt Kemp to only paying $3.5 million of his $21 million annual salary. The Dodgers still had a lot of hefty contracts on the books, but payroll was coming down and the Dodgers just won another NL West title. The Zaidi/Friedman plan was in full effect. They were cleaning up the financial mess left in the wake of Ned Coletti and they were competing at a high level.
The 2015/2016 offseason was relatively quiet compared to the 2014/2015 offseason. The Dodgers spent on starting pitching to try to replenish what they lost when Greinke became a free agent. They signed Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda to bulster their rotation and brought back Howie Kendrick for $5 million (almost half the price as the previous season). The Dodgers finished the 2016 season with a payroll of $193.8 million and their contracts to players who were either released or traded came in around $54.6 million. This was a substantial decrease from $70.3 million the previous year.
The Dodgers rolled into the 2016 season and won another NL West title and cruised to another crushing playoff defeat. This time getting rolled by the emerging juggernaut the Chicago Cubs. The Dodgers did make attempts to fortify their line up and rotation by adding Josh Reddick and Rich Hill at the waiver deadline as they made their push for another NL West crown.
It’s also worth noting that Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda posted a combined 3.4 bWAR in 2016, while Zack Greinke struggled in the first year of his new contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks while posting a 2.3 bWAR. Also, at some point during the 2016 season the Dodgers traded a minor league pitcher for some guy Chris Taylor? Idk. Might be important later. They also released Carl Crawford and ate the remaining money from his contract which was appoximately $40 million for 2016 and 2017.
After yet another playoff defeat following an NL West title the Dodgers entered the 2016/2017 offseaon with more pressure on than the previous years. The Zaidi/Friedman plan was simultaneously working and failing. In the big picture, they were trimming payroll and remaining competitive, but in the eyes of the fans, they were not getting over the hump and winning titles. They still hadn’t even made it to a World Series. However, Zaidi finally had some much needed financial flexibility and organizational trust that made 2016/2017 his most important offseason.