What are the chances the Dodgers can keep their best free agents, specifically pitchers Randy Wolf or Vicente Padilla?
-- John C., Redondo Beach, Calif.
Even more than usual, it's a lot about the money. As their most consistent starter, Wolf is probably more likely to generate a multiyear offer this winter than he was a year ago, when Houston offered him one then retracted it. Last year, the Dodgers weren't in the running for him until his market softened to a one-year offer. He's looking multiyear again and the Dodgers aren't likely to be much interested in that. The same probably applies to Padilla. A player more likely to slot in at a single year, like backup catcher Brad Ausmus or swingman Jeff Weaver, is a more probable candidate to return.
It sounds like the Dodgers already have no chance at trading for Roy Halladay. If their farm system is so good, why can't they swing deals for big-name players the way the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox do?
-- Seth F., Vero Beach, Fla.
Actually, they made one of the biggest trades for a big-name player in recent years in 2008 -- for Manny Ramirez. In the case of Halladay, if the Blue Jays insist on a Major League starting pitcher in return -- and why wouldn't they? -- then the Dodgers are not a fit. That's the Dodgers' need, not a surplus. General manager Ned Colletti has said he doesn't believe he can improve his starting rotation by trading away a pitcher out of that starting rotation. As for the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox, they are more willing to spend big money for free agents, which helps create a surplus of blocked young talent that can be traded. One thing you haven't heard in recent years is that the Dodgers have blocked young talent, because their young talent has become the nucleus of the team. So there isn't a surplus of Major League-ready players to trade for marquee players. And one who would qualify in that category, Blake DeWitt, is likely to get a shot to be the starting second baseman next year.
Who is the next Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers' farm system?
-- Alan S., Carson, Calif.
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Kershaw is a high bar to shoot for. But management feels Scott Elbert has a shot at winning a spot in the starting rotation next year. Josh Lindblom will probably remain in the bullpen, but Chris Withrow had a great bounce-back season. Withrow, Ethan Martin and Aaron Miller are each pitchers, each being the club's top pick in the last three Drafts, and considered to have the highest ceilings -- but they need time to develop.
What is the definition of Type A and Type B free agents?
-- Michael B., Las Vegas
Free agents are classified as either Type A, Type B or unclassified. Type A free agents are those that rank in the top 20 percent of their position category based on a two-year statistical average for each position group. Type B free agents are those that rank in the next 20 percent. Unclassified free agents are those in the bottom 60 percent.
What do teams receive as compensation if another club signs one of their free agents?
-- Greg G., Chatsworth, Calif.
That depends on several factors, including which teams sign them. The only two of the 15 Dodgers free agents that are Type A are Wolf and Orlando Hudson. For the Dodgers to receive compensation for losing either, the player must sign with another club by Dec. 1, or the Dodgers must offer salary arbitration by Dec. 1 and the player must decline by Dec. 7. The Dodgers would receive either a first-round pick from the signing team if that team drafts in the second half of the first round, or a second-round pick from the signing team if that team drafts in the first half of the first round, plus a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. Type B free agents are Ronnie Belliard, Jon Garland, Guillermo Mota, Will Ohman and Padilla. The Dodgers would receive a sandwich pick for losing any of them, but only if the club offers the player salary arbitration and he declines, which is unlikely because of the salary they would eligible to earn through the arbitration process. Ausmus, Jim Thome, Eric Milton, Jason Schmidt, Weaver, Juan Castro, Doug Mientkiewicz and Mark Loretta are the club's eight non-ranking free agents for which compensation does not apply.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.