First off, Merry Christmas Dodgers fans. While the Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t put a big present under the tree this off-season as of yet, there is still time on the talk.
In a long column in the LA Times, writer Dylan Hernandez takes the current Dodgers’ regime to task. Undeniably, some who click through to read the column below will feel like Hernandez is speaking for you. In contrast, others will feel that Hernandez is a villain whose goal in life is to be critical of Dodger baseball. Still, he gives us an interesting read on the holiday.
Who's to blame for #Dodgers' refusal to win a free-agent bidding war? The other owners in the NL West, our @dylanohernandez says: "These franchise owners have essentially created an unobstructed path to the postseason for the Dodgers."
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) December 24, 2019
First, Hernandez hypothesizes that the Dodgers’ goal is not to win a World Series. Simply, they just want to win the division and have a lottery ticket to be in the sweepstakes.
Their objective isn’t to win a World Series. It’s to win another division title. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure they want to win a World Series. But wanting to win a World Series isn’t the same as doing whatever is necessary to win one.
Second, Hernandez brings a point in which I agree with fully. I see a fair degree of ‘but they offered Cole a fair deal’ here and there. However the Dodgers are privy to knowledge we aren’t, and conversations with agent Scott Boras. They knew their best and final was in second place when it was made.
The attitude was reflected in their courtship of Cole. Did they want him? Sure, but not enough to make the kind of offer that would have brushed back the New York Yankees, who signed him to an nine-year, $324-million deal. Once Cole came off the board and eliminated the most obvious shortcut to a World Series, the Dodgers reverted to their old tricks.
Finally, Hernandez exhibits how the Dodgers’ strategy to pivot to the trade market may not be one that is sound.
The absence of competition has spared the Dodgers the obligation to pay for premium free agents. When the free-agent prices have made them uncomfortable, they have been able to explore the trade market, which is less predictable but also often less expensive. Most of the game’s elite players are on teams that won’t dump them for prospects. To acquire quality players, the Dodgers will likely have to give up quality players, meaning they can only make marginal improvements in a trade. Potential trade partners hold a degree of leverage over the Dodgers at this point, as they know the Dodgers can’t pivot back to the free-agent market. The Dodgers’ only recourse will be to wait.
It’s hard to say that the Dodgers have gotten better. In this example, I admire Hernandez for being objective, if that’s what he was trying to do. Certainly I hope that something bigger is coming, who else is with me?