Howie Kendrick will give the Dodgers better middle infield defense this season. [The Associated Press]

The Dodgers’ 94 wins were the fourth most in the majors last season, but their playoff failure against St. Louis is what sticks in their minds.

That prompted an offseason of dramatic change, starting with a new front office and several roster moves.

The team traded Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon, while Hanley Ramirez departed as a free agent.

Among the big acquisitions are Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins, along with Yasmani Grandal, to help management achieve its goal of improved defense.

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw led the majors in victories with 21 and ERA at 1.77 last season, when he became the first NL pitcher to sweep the MVP and Cy Young Awards since Bob Gibson in 1968. But his playoff struggles continued; he went 0-2 with a 7.82 ERA in the division series loss to St. Louis, something that will add to Kershaw’s motivation.

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