In 2019, despite a disappointing ending, the Los Angeles Dodgers were electric. As a team coming off a franchise-record 106-win season, there isn’t really much more a fan could ask of their front office in terms of roster structure. However, a first-round exit for the Dodgers has left fans looking for a change. With a talented free-agent class of at least 131 players reported by the Major League Baseball Player’s Association hitting the market this winter, the Dodgers will be under pressure to make a few moves to better the team’s chances to finally lay their 31-year World Series title drought to rest.
Sign Anthony Rendon
Currently playing third base for the Washington Nationals and intending to test free agency this winter, Anthony Rendon may be the biggest ticket available this offseason, and who other than a regular payroll headliner like the Dodgers to look into paying him? Rendon worked his way into the National League MVP discussion this season almost completely under the radar, recording a 1.010 OPS while being snubbed of a spot on the initial All-Star Game roster.
Justin Turner, the Dodgers current third baseman, has already said he is more than willing to move away from the position in order to make room for Anthony Rendon, according to Andy McCullough of The Athletic. “I’ve bounced around the diamond my whole career…I don’t care,” told Turner. In his Major League career, Turner has logged innings at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, and left field.
Trade for Francisco Lindor
Jon Morosi of MLB Network has reported that sources around the league suggest the Dodgers will pursue Francisco Lindor. The twenty-five-year-old multiple-time all-star does not become an unrestricted free agent until 2022, meaning the old way the Dodgers would be able to acquire Lindor is through a trade with the Cleveland Indians.
In his past three seasons with the Indians, Lindor has recorded 17.7 fWAR, averaging 5.9 fWAR per season. Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ incumbent shortstop, would have to be moved to make room for Lindor, but after a less than optimal postseason performance in 2019, a number of fans are seemingly behind the idea of moving on from Seager.
Trade for Mookie Betts
One of the more interesting routes the Dodgers could take in order to improve the roster this offseason: trading for 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts.
It’s not entirely outlandish either. RotoWire News reported in late September that should the Boston Red Sox be incapable of reaching a long term deal with Betts, the team will look to trade him. However, a player of Betts’ caliber wouldn’t come cheap to a trade suitor, even with his impending free agency status not exactly being team-friendly.
Nevertheless, an outfield trio of Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, and A.J. Pollock would be a nightmare for any opponent and could be made a reality if the Dodgers are willing to part ways with a large chunk of young talent in their loaded farm system.
Sign a Starting Pitcher
This winter’s market is stacked with starting pitchers looking for a payday, and it almost seems essential for the Dodgers to be in the market for at least one. Superstar flamethrower Gerrit Cole will be getting lots of attention from around the league, but the lower-market starters that may not receive tons of attention are the guys the Dodgers could really use.
Over the past two seasons, Zack Wheeler has recorded 8.9 fWAR, ranking ninth among all pitchers in that timeframe. Wheeler will celebrate his thirtieth birthday next May, meaning he may be looking for a long-term deal that could carry him towards the end of his career. Look for the Dodgers to be in the market for Wheeler.
Jake Odorizzi came into his own in 2019 with the Minnesota Twins. Although he floated around an ERA in the mid to high threes, Odorizzi recorded the twentieth best fWAR among starting pitchers in 2019. While this wouldn’t be picking up an ace, having someone like Odorizzi in the middle of a team’s pitching order foreseeably spells nothing but good.
Someone who has tormented the Dodgers for years, Madison Bumgarner would be one of the more emotionally confusing additions for Dodgers fans. However, what isn’t confusing is the positive effect Bumgarner could have for the success of the Dodgers’ starting rotation. In 2019, Bumgarner recorded 3.2 fWAR, his best since season since 2016, while tossing 207.2 innings. Bumgarner’s age and injury history certainly bring his market value down, and if the Dodgers are willing to take the gamble it may pay serious dividends come October 2020.
While not every move on this list will happen, if one or two moves mentioned here can be made the Dodgers should be in great shape to make yet another run at a World Series title. It’s hard to ask for a team who set their franchise record in wins a year ago to improve, but should Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers seek improvement, calling Los Angeles the home of champions in 2020 would be more than favorable.