Dodgers focused on hiring new manager, improving pitching for next season

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LOS ANGELES — Besides hiring a new manager, the Los Angeles Dodgers are focused on bulking up their rotation and bullpen this offseason.

Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, said interviews with managerial candidates are ongoing and he expects to meet or possibly beat his target of hiring someone before the winter meetings begin early next month.

He declined Monday to discuss the search process or comment on anyone the team has interviewed.

Speaking by phone from Florida, where the general manager meetings were underway, Friedman again declined comment on negotiations to retain starter Zack Greinke. The 32-year-old right-hander opted out of the final three years of his contract, giving up a guaranteed $71 million to become a free agent last week.

"We'll leave it up to people's imaginations," he said.

The Dodgers extended qualifying offers to Greinke and free agents Brett Anderson and Howie Kendrick. The players have until Friday to accept; Friedman says the team has yet to hear from them. Greinke is expected to reject the offer that would pay him $15.8 million next season.

"We're going to be focused on pitching," Friedman said. "We still need round out our opening day pitching staff."

If Greinke departs, Clayton Kershaw and youngster Alex Wood would be the only known starters going into next year. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who continues recovering from shoulder surgery that kept him out this season, is "a big wild card," Friedman said.

"I don't know yet whether we can fully count on him," he said.

Friedman said Brandon McCarthy will be back at some point after Tommy John surgery.

The team's lineup is "pretty locked in," Friedman said, with the exception of second base, which could open up if Kendrick rejects the club's one-year qualifying offer.

Friedman singled out right fielder Yasiel Puig, center fielder Joc Pederson and catcher Yasmani Grandal as "three big wild cards" heading into next year. The trio each had disappointing second halves, with Puig bothered by hamstring issues that landed him on the disabled list twice and Grandal recovering from recent left shoulder surgery.

Friedman said he has "a lot of optimism they can be significant contributors for us next season," which would seemingly indicate there are no plans to trade Puig. The Cuban is focused on slimming down and improving bad hitting habits that developed while he had a blister on his left hand.

"It's just getting him back to what he was mechanically," said Friedman, adding that Pederson is also working to eliminate elements that cut his batting average in the second half.

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