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Dodgers: The Fallout From Missing On Strasburg and Cole

With franchise altering talent off the board, Los Angeles needs to step up in another way.



This week the Dodgers were outbid by the Yankees in their pursuit of right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole. Not exactly a shocker for Dodger fans. Since the start of the Friedman era, the Dodgers have yet to really outbid anyone, let alone the Yankees. They have typically opted to scrape the bargain bin for the diamond in the roughs. To their credit, it has worked pretty well. Additionally, the Dodgers have won seven consecutive division titles and have advanced to the World Series twice in that time.

However, this off-season was supposed to be different.

It was what the off-season they’ve been targeting for some time — the reason they’ve worked hard to get below the luxury tax threshold. Add in an early NLDS departure from the 2019 postseason following a record 106-win season and more pressure was put on the front office to make some kind of splash in this free agent market.

So far, Stephen Strasburg is off the table, and now Cole. Additionally, star third baseman Anthony Rendon is gone now too, but this article is about pitching.

I don’t blame the Dodgers for not going nine years on Gerrit Cole, but they didn’t even seem in the hunt on Strasburg. So, as far as starting pitchers go, who’s left? Hyun-Jin Ryu and Madison Bumgarner.

Ryu

Many have clamored for the Dodgers to re-sign Ryu, but so far little has been spoken about how “in” the Dodgers are with him. And while Los Angeles has overlooked their team ace from a season ago, other teams have made their pitch.

Ryu was fantastic in 2019. In fact, he’s always been great, when healthy. Key phrase being, “when healthy”. Ryu’s career has been marred with various sidelining injuries. Scott Boras, Ryu’s agent, will likely spin the injury time as less innings on his arm. With Strasburg and Cole off the market on 7 and 9 year contracts, the Cy Young runner-up will likely seek a 4-6 year pact.

Pushing age 33, the Dodgers know Ryu isn’t likely to start an injury-free trend, which is probably the hesitancy to re-sign him — especially until he’s 37 or 38 years old.

Bumgarner

Moments after the Cole signing it was reported that the Dodgers would shift their focus to Madison Bumgarner. 

The news immediately turned the Dodger Twitter-verse into a pillow fight of opinions. 

Some admire his grit, intensity and postseason lore. Others can’t get past his tantrums and history against the Dodgers. Furthermore, in 2019 Bumgarner’s stats were very comparable to that of Kenta Maeda who costs just $3.1M per year. Bumgarner’s rumored to be seeking around $20M a year.  While Maeda’s value is certainly team friendly and would likely solicit more on the market today, Bumgarner is clearly seeking compensation for the pitcher he was between 2013-2016.

Current Rotation Status

Despite falling short on Strasburg and Cole and despite Ryu and Bumgarner having their flaws, the Dodgers are still sitting on a good foundation. Their starting rotation can be built from the likes of Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Julio Urias, Dustin May, and/or Tony Gonsolin. 

I’m in agreement with Blake here, acquiring another quality starter would definitely bolster the rotation. I don’t even think it needs to be a Cole or Strasburg-esque starter. A health-ish Ryu would be plenty as would a golden years Bumgarner, whoever the Dodgers could get on a shorter contract.

That said, their current foundation could be enough to carry the club to the trade deadline.  At that time they could trade for a pitcher to put them over the top. Additionally, Rich Hill could be a bonus add-on as he is questionable free agent. He could likely be a cheap buy since he will miss at least half of 2020, but also because the surgery he opted for and is recovering from is experimental and teams may not be sure what to expect.

Final Thoughts

Despite how it seems the Dodgers have not “lost the off-season”. Two top-tier starting pitcher free agents demanded a whole lot of money and years. The Dodgers made a genuine attempt to acquire one of them.

At the end of the day they swung and missed, but all is not lost. If they can add a solid starter, some additional bullpen help, and that right-handed power bat they’ve been seeking, they’ll have improved and won in my eyes. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether the front office signs or trades for that help. What matters is that they stay in the game and do what they’ve done for the past seven years, keep the Dodgers in contention.

NEXT: Stan Kasten Talks Playoff Losses and More

Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

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  1. I think LA needs two SP,s. My suggestion: make a trade for Lindor/Kluber happen, then re-sign Ryu. Can’t get my head around a Bumgarner signing. Maybe Josh Donaldson now?

  2. 34 years now……..Great job Friedman…You are a loser and always will be. Go Lakers and Rams….

    • I’m betting the Lakers win a championship Before the Dodgers and the Rams. The Rams lost their chance this past Super Bowl and may Miss the post-season this year.

      • Yeah Robin, I wouldn’t take that bet. The Lakers are what the Dodgers should be, going for it all!!! The Buss family understands what the FANS want and pay for by putting it back into the team 100%. Great Org. and we’re lucky to have them. The Rams did have their chance but most of all they went ALL In to get there. Signing the top FA DT in Suh, signing and Trading for Cooks etc. receivers, Peters etc. the list goes on. The Rams for 15 years relied on their draft only and wouldn’t sign any Big name FA’s in St Louis, which cost them the team as Kroenke moved them home where they belong. The Dodgers seem to think that their cheap route to win a title will work, even though it never has, nor never will. And there’s a bet I have for you as well. I’ll bet you Dave Roberts won’t have to worry about dissing the Country and President over his invite to the white house.

  3. Good article Jason.

    I didn’t understand why Wheeler wasn’t on their board. I would love to ask their scouting department why he wasn’t, to me he made the most sense; I was shocked they weren’t in. Instead he goes to Philly quickly on a deal the Dodgers could have signed.

    • Question here for you, Clint and other fans here as well;
      Which team is the biggest loser at these Winter meetings this year?
      MY ANSWER IS THE DODGERS, it’s as simple as that.

        • Yes, bigger than the Astros because other than the alleged cheating scenario, they DID REACH THE WS in 2019, taking it to 7 games and they did WIN A WS just a couple of years ago. the Astros already have a solid productive INF with Bregman, Correa, Altuve and whoever is at first. Plus they have Brantley and a former Dodger farmhand in Alvarez, whom they got in a trade with Dodgers. The Astros have also if I am correct have 3 straight seasons with 100+ wins.

          • Hey Paul, the Dodgers are always the biggest losers at the meetings.Just think, if Friedman get’s Verlander instead of Darvish, we would be the Astro’s with a Championship! But as the old saying goes “If the queen had ——lls, she’s be King”

  4. I think it is time for the Dodgers to stop the act. Not one time has this organization crossed the finish line for a class A fee agent and quite frankly, I’m sick of them getting my hopes up. The dodgers are not willing to “pull the plug” to do whatever it takes to sign one of these guys. So let’s stop putting it in the clouds that the Dodgers are “up” for Cole or Rendon or stras. Know what, if they wanted any of them they could have done it. Give Cole 10 yrs. Give Rendon 8 yrs. but they are never able to be anything but a “tease”.
    Having said all that, just stop even trying and getting our hopes up and do what you do best. Grow our own (which we do better than anyone in the history of the game) and make our master pieces at the trade deadline. That’s what the Dodgers are. That’s what the Dodgers do. And they get “A” in those categories.
    Want to prove me wrong, go get Kluber and Lindor in a blockbuster trade. Give them Gavin. Give them Ruiz move Corey to 2nd and we have a great infield to play behind Kluber.
    But until then, as a lifelong Dodger fan even from Dallas (where I watch every game on mlb) stay out of the free agent signing market for the big boys.
    One other note. I’m glad about Harper…I’m glad about Manny…I’m even glad about Cole. So please don’t think my rant is just because you didn’t sign them. I just wish you would stop telling everyone you are trying to.

  5. We need to be numb about the Dodgers ever signing a big free agent. Maybe we should not even
    show up to the stadium for games. Tired of NO GAME Friedman

  6. We should have a world series with the Darvish trade had the Astros not cheated, I’m okay with the Dodgers staying classy, the money and years thrown at these guys is ridiculous, its worked out in recent years but throughout history these bad contracts strangle teams for a decade or more

  7. Joel Sherman (MLB Insider) reported that the fact is Dodgers are just not comfortable dealing with the top of any FA class, meaning guys like the big 3 this year that the Dodgers struck out on all 3

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