Over the past four seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers have had what many franchises would consider success. Unfortunately, the success is overshadowed by the “can’t win the big one” stigma. Ask the 1990s Atlanta Braves what that’s like, with 14 consecutive division crowns and only one championship to show for it. Ask the Utah Jazz what that’s like, with two Hall of Famers and a decade of success that ended with no rings.

The Dodgers don’t want to underachieve as those old Braves teams did, nor do they want to be remembered in the same light as the 90s Jazz. The Dodgers don’t want to be looked at as the west coast Yankees, but sans hardware. Bottomline is the Dodgers don’t want to be synonymous with playoff ineptitude.

They’ve changed managers. They’ve changed players. They’ve added payroll. They’ve cut payroll. The deck has been shuffled again and again. Yet the result remains the same: watching the World Series from the couch.

Los Angeles is at a crossroads. Its roster is assembled to win now, but the presence of youngsters such as Corey Seager and Julio Urias, plus one of baseball’s deepest farms, have the organization playing more of the long game. Truth is, the team is already in position to stay competitive for the long haul. It can afford to dip into its pool of prospects for immediate help. The time has come to make the splash. The winter meetings are days away and the trade tree is ripe for the picking.

The Dodgers aren’t strangers to big trades, from Mannywood to the great salary dump that resulted in the first time Boston fans ever applauded Magic Johnson. But the Dodgers are strangers to the Fall Classic – they haven’t participated since 1988, despite boasting the MLB’s biggest payroll and quite possibly the best pitcher of all-time. The Angels, Marlins (twice), Royals, Twins, Blue Jays (twice), White Sox, Diamondbacks and A’s have won it more recently than the boys in blue. The Rockies, Rays, Astros and Padres have visited the big one more recently than the Dodgers. Their arch nemesis in Northern California has won three times in that span.

With the core group in place, headlined by Clayton Kershaw and Seager, there won’t be a better point to go all-in. Go get the championship so many have waited to see.

It starts with a bonafide No. 2 starter, a void left by Zack Greinke’s departure a year ago. If L.A. can acquire Chris Sale without including Urias, it best do so. If it deems Sonny Gray or Chris Archer a better candidate, go for it. Don’t enter 2017 with Kenta Maeda as your No. 2. He’s a fine regular season starter, but he ran into a brick wall in the postseason. Don’t waste time or money on a Scott Kazmir-type either.

Trading for a second ace has been discussed ad nauseam. Here’s why it’s indelible to the team’s chances:

Chicago Cubs: Chicago has a solid trio of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks anchoring its championship rotation, plus John Lackey, who would’ve been L.A.’s second best pitcher for the majority of the year. He’s Chicago’s fourth starter.

Washington Nationals: Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are as good a 1-2 punch as anyone. Lucas Giolito is essentially their Urias. Tanner Roark is a great middle of the rotation arm. Note that Washington is frequently mentioned as a Sale suitor. The franchise places high priority on pitching, and if it acquires Sale, it’s going to be a much tougher out than last season’s NLDS.

San Francisco Giants: L.A. has won four straight division titles, but the Giants have been the bigger playoff threat. It starts with Madison Bumgarner, but adding Johnny Cueto mirrors a move the Dodgers should make this winter. Jeff Samardzija, while grossly overpaid, is a good middle man. Matt Moore was a solid midseason pickup and came up big for the team when he was needed most. Unless San Francisco swings a starter for an outfielder, that group is here to stay.

New York Mets: They’ve been beaten and bruised, but Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz is the best rotation in baseball when healthy, and that doesn’t include the potential that could come from Zach Wheeler.

And that’s leaving out the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. The point is, L.A. needs to match that firepower. Can Urias be that guy? Yes, but asking that of him so soon isn’t optimal. Do you want to win in 2017 or 2019? If the former, hesitation isn’t an option. You aren’t getting through the National League with Clayton Kershaw, a 20-year-old and guys like Maeda, Kazmir and McCarthy. It was extremely impressive that the Dodgers got as far as they did in 2016. The opposition will improve, and a sneaky contender (Colorado, Miami) could emerge as well.

The offense needs to be more second half and less first half in 2017. The hot-cold bats got L.A. off to a slow start, but when they came around it was game over in the NL West. Justin Turner is in limbo, while Chase Utley (probably), Josh Reddick and Howie Kendrick are gone. Our own Trevor Vernola proposes the Dodgers pursue Andrew McCutchen. We’ve talked Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe. Vernola and other media have written about Ryan Braun.

The same things are always brought up with Braun. He’s from L.A., he’s right-handed, he’s a needed power bat, he cheated and lied, his contract isn’t good, etc. What hasn’t been brought up is his performance against the Dodgers’ primary playoff foe. In the last two seasons, Braun has amassed 103 at-bats against the Cubs. He’s slashed .344/.401/.703 with 10 home runs and 26 RBI.

A proven Cubs killer is available, but some fans would rather stay bitter about 2011. Braun would be a tremendous asset to the club over the next few years. And his contract – $76MM over four years – is less than what he would receive as a free agent, so that hitch is blown a bit out of proportion. That’s not a franchise crippling contract on the level of an Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera. It’s a deal the Dodgers could take, especially sending near offsetting salaries. Even if the Brewers picked up nothing on it, Braun’s contract is substantially better than the $110MM+, four year deal Cespedes just signed. Braun was used a specific example, but there are plenty of game-changing options for the Dodgers to investigate. But rumors are just that; fans need moves of substance.

As for the prospect cost, L.A. continues to poach minor league talent at an unbelievable rate. More so than its payroll ability, the team has been sensational at building the farm, even with a few blown risks (which the monetary power does mitigate). Moving highly regarded prospects is not a move anyone likes making, but if a guy like Sale and/or Braun helps you win the World Series, who cares? The Dodgers can replenish that talent quickly. The purpose of the sport is to earn the trophy, not hoard prospects.

On a personal note, I cannot relate to many of you. I grew up a Braves fan (so I guess I actually can relate to a childhood of playoff disappointment). I’m viewing it objectively. I know from my interactions with many life-long L.A. fans, you are starved for a title. There are Dodgers fanatics across the country who never saw Kirk Gibson’s homer. There are older supporters who long to witness their team return to baseball’s pinnacle. The organization has the means to do it, even with the recent news. It is time to hunt down that overdue championship that Los Angeles and the fan base deserves. The Dodgers needn’t be playoff laughing stocks anymore. Swing for the fences and go stop the Cubs’ dynasty before it begins.

9 Responses

  1. GeorgeInnes

    I have been a Dodgers’ fan since 1955, and seeing them win another World Series would be a dream.  I am as disappointed as anyone over the playoff results in the last 4 years, but I’m also really pleased to see the Dodgers again building a strong farm system.  I am old enough to remember the 1960s through the 1980s, when the Dodgers’ farm system produced some of baseball’s best prospects, that later earned them championships.  There is a certain excitement in watching prospects move up through the system, and then finally seeing them arrive on the major league roster.  I remember following Pedro Martinez through the minors and seeing him finally make it to the majors; only to feel the disappointment in seeing him traded for Delino Deshields.  After all these years since 1988, I can wait one more year to experience the joy of seeing Dodgers’ top prospects arriving in the majors.  Let’s not undo all the good that has been done in rebuilding the farm system, just to land someone like Sale or Verlander.

    Reply
  2. pauldodgerfan1965

    GeorgeInnes
    All good points and Dodgers meanwhile are in the longest Pennant drought in franchise history.  that being said, I don’t want to see the farm ripped up just toget Sale or Verlander. Teams know of our farm system and are wanting guys like Bellinger, Urias, Verdugo, DeLeon and al.  I know y have to give up some to get some, but if teams are insisting upon Bellinger especially talks are over as far as I am concerned.

    Reply
  3. GeorgeInnes

    The Dodgers should just sign Rich Hill.  They only need a short term solution until prospects are major-league ready.  Signing Hill doesn’t involve giving up prospects, and the Dodgers don’t even get a compensatory pick as a result of losing Hill.  Just get it done.  Then they need to sign Turner and a closer.  The can lose Jansen (and get a compensatory draft pick) and instead sign Melancon, who won’t cost them a draft pick and will come at a lower cost than Jansen.  Maybe some of the money will need to be deferred to avoid more luxury tax, but these front office folks just need to be creative.

    Reply
  4. nodrog60

    man that was a well written, on the mark article. la writers just don’t get this or more probably don’t understand it..But i think the fans do.

    Reply
  5. AlwaysCompete

    I am a Dodger fan, first and foremost.I know of way too many players who cheated
    with PED’s and were never caught.So the
    fact that Ryan Braun used PED’s, and lied, I can live with it if he helps LAD.He paid his price.Fans balk at $76M for 4 years for Braun, but
    have no problem with JT 4 years at $80M.Braun is one year older than JT.Some
    are saying JT is going to get 5 years.JT has had one healthy year.The
    Dodgers were pitiful hitting LHP, and need the RH power.The Dodgers will throw in McCarthy or Kazmir
    to help balance the contracts, so the overall hit to the contracts/luxury tax
    should be minimized.

    I would like to see the Dodgers still sign JT, but not for more
    than 4 years and not more than $15M AAV.Give a 5th year option with a reasonable buyout, and give him
    more than $60M guaranteed.But I would
    rather pay Braun $76M over 4 years rather than 4 years $80M for JT.I still would really like to try to pry
    Jeimer Candelario away from the Cubs.

    The Dodgers have to have a #2.That pitcher is going to have to come via
    trade.I do not believe Sale is on their
    plan.Archer, Quintana, Carrasco, and Salazar
    are legit #2.Odorizzi is a 2-3, not
    really a legit #2.I do not know what
    Sonny Gray is.In order to get a #2, De
    Leon is going to be included.They also
    need a RH bat for 2B (Brian Dozier, maybe??).Sign Melancon for less $$$ and get the draft pick for Kenley.De Leon, Verdugo, Calhoun, Puig,
    McCarthy/Kazmir, Wood, Stripling, Stewart, De Jong, SVS, Thompson, Toles, Johnson…
    would all be potential trade pieces.There
    are also a good number of potential OF and pitchers at the A level that might
    be desired by some teams.I would say no
    on Bellinger and Alveraz.Buehler and
    Diaz are also near that point.Abdullah not
    far behind.I would agree that the Dodgers
    do have the assets to make a run at the players they need to turn the corner.

    Reply

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