09/06/12 8:48 PM ET
Kasten: Mega-trade in line with Dodgers' vision
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
Los Angeles took on more than a quarter of a billion dollars in new salary obligations in the deal that netted first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford and right-hander Josh Beckett. The trade bolstered the Dodgers at several positions while providing the Red Sox with desperately desired payroll flexibility.
Along with several other moves, including a trade for Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins, the transaction shocked the baseball world and announced the Dodgers as a major financial player in the years to come.
Kasten, however, said at the first Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in midtown New York City that even the latter move was no shock to the organization he now runs. He spoke, along with attorney Bruce Bennett and Lee H. Berke of LHB Sports, Entertainment and Media, on a panel discussing the recent sale of the iconic franchise.
"This is very consistent with what our plans were," Kasten said, adding that "we remain first and foremost a scouting- and player development-based operation."
The moves, then, served two purposes. One is obvious: to improve the 2012 Dodgers and increase their chances of playing in the postseason. That's always a central goal, and it surely applies with the new Los Angeles ownership group.
Additionally, Kasten emphasized that the trades also functioned as a statement of purpose. It's no secret that fan discontent simmered in Los Angeles prior to the new ownership group taking over. So, in taking on a significant amount of salary obligation, the group showed fans that it intends to be aggressive in talent acquisition.
"[We can't] tell our fans, 'We're going to do this right, we're going to do this long term, just wait five years for 25 guys to grow into their uniforms,'" Kasten said. "So we were able to acquire proven stars in the chronological middle of their careers, very good players, whom we couldn't get any other way.
"Players like Adrian Gonzalez, players like Hanley Ramirez, they're not available. You can't get them in the free agent market. This was a way to improve the team right away, while at the same time maintaining our core belief in also building the scouting and player-development system. That was always part of our model."
But it won't just be Major League talent they add. Kasten was emphatic about that. He said that the Dodgers intend to max out their permitted spending, both in the international talent market as well as in the First-Year Player Draft. And, of course, they made one last foray into the non-capped international market, signing Yasiel Puig out of Cuba in June.
"We are hiring more scouts, trying to hire better people," Kasten said. "We took an opportunity that we had in June to sign the most recent Cuban émigré. We had an exciting draft. We were aggressive getting them signed.
"The Dodgers were dead last in international signings. We reversed that. We intend immediately to become leaders."
As for the future of the Major League club, it doesn't hinge on what happens over the next few weeks, Kasten said. He was asked about "consequences" that might befall the organization if the 2012 Dodgers do not make the postseason, and he indicated that there were no ultimatums facing members of the team's brain trust.
"We fully expect ... to make the postseason," Kasten said. "But whether we do or we don't, it won't change our plans for this offseason. ... Building now, building for next season, as well as continuing our scouting and player development."
Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.