All offseason, Diamond Digest writers will be taking a look at each team’s 2020 season and looking forward at what moves each team might have to make to set themselves up for improvement in 2021. Today, Arrick Joel takes a look at the Los Angeles Dodgers!
The mountain has been scaled. For the first time in 32 years, the Los Angeles Dodgers are World Series champions.
In each season since 2013, the Dodgers have managed to win the National League West division, making an appearance in the postseason but never finishing a season with the Commissioner’s Trophy in their possession. In 2020, that narrative switched, as L.A. took home their first World Series title since 1988.
2020 Record: 43-17, 1st Place in NL West
Dodgers MVP: Mookie Betts
Dodgers Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
Biggest Positive Surprises:
- Corey Seager’s MVP-caliber return-to-form
- Jake McGee’s turn-around following his release from Colorado
- Victor Gonzalez’s stellar debut season
Biggest Negative Surprises:
- Cody Bellinger’s plate performance regression
- Gavin Lux’s abbreviated season
In the COVID-19-shortened 60-game regular season, the Dodgers had no equal. The team finished 13 games over .500, earning them the best record in baseball, losing just a single three-game series to the Colorado Rockies in September. During their postseason run, the Dodgers made quick work of the Milwaukee Brewers in the Wild Card Series, swept the San Diego Padres in the NLDS, advanced past the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS after falling into a 3-1 series deficit, and defeated the AL-best Tampa Bay Rays in six to earn their World Series title.
After the acquisition of right fielder Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox last February, the Dodgers were routinely considered a super-team by baseball analysts. High praise for the team’s stellar roster in the preseason created high expectations for the Dodgers that did not go unmet. The Dodgers’ 43-17 record carried along with it a .717 win percentage, the sixth-highest in the history of Major League Baseball.
2020-2021 Offseason Overview
Key Losses (2020 Salary):
- Pedro Báez ($4M)
- Caleb Ferguson ($583.5K)*
- Terrance Gore ($563.5K)
- Kiké Hernández ($5.9M)
- Jake McGee ($563.5K)
- Jimmy Nelson ($750K)**
- Joc Pederson ($7.75M)
- Blake Treinen ($10M)
- Justin Turner ($20M)
- Alex Wood ($4M)
*: Unavailable in 2021 due to injury
**: Declined 2021 club option
Areas of Greatest Need:
- Third Base
With nine Major League players entering free agency, the Dodgers will have a combined $53,527,000 off the books heading into 2021. With this money, the Dodgers will look to roster a third baseman this offseason with Justin Turner entering the free-agent market, as well as bullpen pieces to cover for the potential of being out-bid on relief pitchers such as Blake Treinen, Pedro Báez, Alex Wood, and Jake McGee this winter.
The Dodgers’ areas of need have a myriad of ways of being addressed, which may come down to simply re-signing the players they’re at risk of losing. However, the Dodgers have the means to take a more interesting route in filling the vacant spots left by the team’s free agents, should they find a different suitor on the market.
Desired Free Agents:
Trevor Bauer (1 YR, $22M)
Trevor Bauer’s outspoken desire to play under strictly one-year contracts works perfectly for a team looking to bolster their rotation in hopes of repeating their title run. Adding Bauer to a starting pitching core including Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, David Price, and Dustin May would make the Dodgers’ undoubtedly the best team of starting pitchers in Major League Baseball.
Yoenis Céspedes (1 YR, $1.25M)
With a calculated market value of $1,480,479 according to Spotrac, Yoenis Céspedes is one of the cheapest power hitters on the market this winter. Although Céspedes comes with injury risks, the Dodgers would be able to retain a power-bat without having to spend greater amounts for the services of Joc Pederson. Since 2016, Yoenis Céspedes has the 19th best slugging percentage in baseball among hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances.
Kiké Hernández (3 YR. $19.5M)
Kiké Hernández has developed into a Dodgers fan favorite since joining the team in a trade during the 2014 offseason. After a season including some postseason heroics in the NLCS, Hernández is almost certainly garnering attention as a free agent, taking into account his useful defensive fluidity. Hernández turned 29 years old this past August, making him a player with years of play still ahead of him.
Blake Treinen (2 YR, $20M)
After a rough ending in Oakland, the Dodgers took a flyer on Blake Treinen, which paid off in a big way. In 2020, Treinen ranked among the top 1% of pitchers in barrel percentage, allowing just one barrel in 27 appearances. Treinen played a pivotal role for the Dodgers in trotting out what was the National League’s best bullpen.
Justin Turner (2 YR, $21M)
With deep-rooted connections to both the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles, Justin Turner has been one of the faces of the franchise since inking a deal with the team in February of 2014. While the concern with Turner is his age, having turned 36 years old in November, his hitting metrics still rank near the top among third basemen in the Majors.
Kirby Yates (1 YR, $9.5M)
Following a 2020 campaign plagued by an injury to his right elbow, Kirby Yates is in a position similar to that of Blake Treinen last offseason, where the Dodgers showed to be in the market. Adding Yates to the bullpen to work in tandem with Kenley Jansen would make the Dodgers’ relief pitchers a group to be feared.
Dodgers acquire Nolan Arenado from Rockies
One of baseball’s most popular trade rumors since being reported by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner Nolan Arenado is a real trade target for the Dodgers as they look to fill a spot at third base. Arenado told ESPN’s Karl Ravech during the Gold Glove Award ceremonies, “I want to play for a winner. If that’s in Colorado, that’s great. And, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about: I just want to win.” Arenado’s looming 2021 player opt-out may force Colorado into moving their star third baseman if they feel they cannot grant Arenado’s wishes of becoming a winning club. Even with that in mind, the Rockies will almost certainly demand the inclusion of at least one of the Dodgers’ top young players such as Gavin Lux, Dustin May, or Keibert Ruiz in any trade discussion.
Dodgers acquire Amir Garrett from Reds
Cincinnati and Los Angeles seem to be two organizations that are regularly in touch with one another on trade offers and rumors, most recently when the Dodgers unloaded Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer to Cincinnati in exchange for Homer Bailey, Jeter Downs, and Josiah Gray. With the Dodgers now in the market for bullpen help and the Reds looking to build around a core that includes young talent such as Luis Castillo and Nick Senzel, the Dodgers may be capable of headlining a trade package with Tony Gonsolin in order to bring Amir Garrett to Los Angeles.
Dodgers acquire Josh Hader from Brewers
With the Dodgers looking to fill the void in the bullpen left by several relievers hitting the free-agent market, Josh Hader may be a player Los Angeles could deal for. According to a report from FanSided’s Robert Murray, the Brewers are listening to trade offers for Hader as they look to trim payroll before the start of the 2021 season. Major League Baseball’s midseason farm system rankings placed Milwaukee second only to the Washington Nationals for the worst prospect pool in the sport. With the Dodgers holding a bundle of talented prospects, the Brewers may be interested in improving the group of young talent in their organization in exchange for their left-handed flamethrower.
2021 Projected Roster
- Mookie Betts (RF)
- Corey Seager (SS)
- Justin Turner (3B)
- Max Muncy (1B)
- Cody Bellinger (CF)
- A.J. Pollock (LF)
- Kiké Hernández (2B)
- Austin Barnes (C)
- Clayton Kershaw (P)
- Clayton Kershaw (LHP)
- Walker Buehler (RHP)
- David Price (LHP)
- Julio Urías (LHP)
- Dustin May (RHP)
- Dylan Floro
- Victor González
- Brusdar Graterol
- Josh Hader
- Kenley Jansen
- Joe Kelly
- Adam Kolarek
- Kirby Yates
- Matt Beaty
- Gavin Lux
- Edwin Rios
- Will Smith
- Chris Taylor
Despite having a fairly lengthy list of free agents this offseason, the Dodgers are still in great shape to defend their title in 2021. With some action to sure up their bullpen, Los Angeles may be on their way to a repeat of 2020.
The Dodgers will open the 2021 regular season on April 1st with a four-game road series against the Colorado Rockies.