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Dodgers: Truths About LA Going Into 2022: Corey Seager, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and More



This is the fourth time where I write some truths about the Dodgers going into the next season. The report after last season was the best one to write about, for good reason. This off-season promises to be the most turbulent one we’ve seen since after the 2014 season. There are so many players that will be free agents, labor issues, and possible rule changes that could turn the off-season into quite a mess. So, here it goes.

The 2020 World Series Championship Is Even Sweeter

The sting of losing to the Braves in the 2021 National League Championship Series just doesn’t seem as strong. Winning the 2020 World Series in an incredibly turbulent year for the whole world was a true sports highlight I’ve ever experienced. Now, that won’t last into next season and we want to be able to enjoy a parade. Plus, you never know when the next championship might come.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement Expires

Almost three years ago I wrote about a possible baseball armageddon and how the Dodgers had three years to win a World Series before it possibly goes away. Again, I am very thankful for the 2020 World Series win but now I am a bit afraid of how the negotiations for a new agreement will work. Some items that are up for negotiations:

  1. Young players getting underpaid
  2. Older players getting pushed out for cheaper young players
  3. Service time manipulation

Ultimately, the management teams in baseball have found many ways to manipulate the payroll and service time. Let’s hope and pray that an agreement can be hammered out. Some things to expect if/when they come to an agreement:

  1. Post-season changes – more teams
  2. The designated hitter in the National League
  3. More changes to the luxury tax

There Are A Lot Of Free Agents

  • Danny Duffy
  • Cole Hamels
  • Kenley Jansen
  • Joe Kelly
  • Clayton Kershaw
  • Corey Knebel
  • Jimmy Nelson
  • Albert Pujols
  • Max Scherzer
  • Corey Seager
  • Chris Taylor

If the Dodgers were to lose all of these players, they’d have huge gaps in the starting rotation, the bullpen, the top of the order, depth, and versatility. Last season, some of the free agency losses, especially the depth and versatility suffered all season.

Personally, I would like the Dodgers to keep all of them. The Dodgers payroll for 2022 projects to a little over $205M WITHOUT any of the above free agents. However, it does include $34M for “The Redacted One” but we have no idea how that all works out. If the Dodgers get out of that payroll commitment then the payroll goes down to $181M. No matter what, they will end up in some type of luxury tax penalty unless the CBA changes in the Dodgers favor.

Related: Corey Seager Would Like to Return to Los Angeles Next Year

Just to keep you informed about after 2022, the following players are eligible to be free agents:

  • Trea Turner
  • Austin Barnes
  • Blake Treinen
  • Tommy Kahnle
  • AJ Pollock

Big-Time Prospects Are Coming

The Dodgers gave up a lot of prospect capital to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Two of them, Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz, would have factored into the 2022 plans. At the moment, I don’t see any of the top 10 prospects, other than Andre Jackson, making much of an impact on the 2022 Dodgers. However, the Dodgers will have a glut of top prospects ready to impact the team in 2023 and 2024. We will cover these players on this site and at Dodgers 2080 over the next few months. Here are just a few of the names we’ll be discussing:

  • Bobby Miller
  • Miguel Vargas
  • Ryan Pepiot
  • Diego Cartaya
  • Michael Busch
  • Andy Pages

The 2021 Bench Was A Weakness

For once, the Dodgers had a depth issue. Losing players like Kiké Hernandez and Joc Pederson to free agency and Edwin Rios to injury hurt quite a bit. All three of those players were factors in helping to win the 2020 World Series. Albert Pujols was signed and was better than expected, but he will be a free agent. Matt Beaty had his moments, but I see the Dodgers trading him. For some reason, it seems Beaty is not a preferred player for management.

The lack of quality bench parts did not emerge from Triple-A as was expected and it definitely cost the Dodgers a few wins during the season. Before 2021 almost every bench piece for the Dodgers could start for at least half of the teams in MLB.

Defense (Still) Matters

According to FanGraphs, here’s how the Dodgers defensive players ranked at their position with a minimum of 300 innings played:

  • C – Will Smith – 14th out of 60
  • C – Austin Barnes – 23rd out of 60
  • 1B – Max Muncy – 18th out of 44
  • 1B – Albert Pujols – 22nd out of 44
  • 2B – Trea Turner – 19th out of 40
  • SS – Trea Turner – 14th out of 41
  • SS – Corey Seager – 35th out of 41
  • SS – Gavin Lux – 37th out of 41
  • 3B – Justin Turner – 30th out of 47
  • LF – AJ Pollock – 36th out of 45
  • CF – Cody Bellinger – 15th out of 47
  • CF – Chris Taylor – 42nd out of 47
  • RF – Billy McKinney – 6th out of 46
  • RF – Mookie Betts – 19th out of 46

As a team, the Dodgers were 25th out of the 30 teams on defense. Overall, the bad defense causes more free outs to be given away and the pitchers have to throw more pitches. That is at least three years of the Dodgers being mediocre to bad on defense. For a team that tries to be efficient in getting outs, this defensive performance will continue to be a problem. Something needs to change.

Cody Bellinger Will Be Better

We all know the story of Cody Bellinger in 2021. He had shoulder surgery in the previous off-season and had leg issues almost the whole season. The shoulder surgery itself would be enough to cause hitting issues. My compadre at Dodgers 2080, Casey Porter, has a great breakdown on the swing adjustments Bellinger made at the end of the season.

What Do You Think?

What might the 2022 team look like? Drop your thoughts in the comments below! Some of these thoughts started very early in the season, especially the defense and the pending free agents. I tried to stay away from speculating about the future during the season. Despite winning 106 games this team never felt quite right. Corrections will be made and I expect the Dodgers to win the 2022 World Series and we can have our parade.

NEXT: Dave Roberts Hopeful for Contract Extension this Offseason

Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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  1. Mr. Rogers, perhaps you mis-read the data from Fangraphs or Fangraphs has bad data. There is no way that Billy McKinney is 6th and Betts is 19th best in RF. No way CT3 IS 42 out of 47 in CF either. This is just plain wrong.

  2. You mentioned Andre Jackson but failed to mention Mitch White. Perhaps you were already assuming he would be on the 40 man roster? I’m pretty sure White Is further along than Jackson is.

  3. The Dodgers killed it this year. Look at Game 5 again if you think otherwise. I hate all these fair weather fan comments. “Stay on the wagon no matter what” fans are the best fans. Tickets going for only 50$ a pop at the end was ludicrous. See you next year,Braves.

  4. I would think that not much happens until the CBA is completed except some obvious moves.
    Sign Kershaw to an incentive contract
    Sign Taylor no matter what
    Scour the league for versatile bench players/ depth
    See what happens w Bauer

  5. The question that we don’t have an answer to is what the Dodgers are looking at in terms of payroll. So many of the free agent questions will be determined by that. If they want to rein payroll back in (and don’t get a mulligan from MLB on Bauer) it would be a challenge bringing back any of the free agents. Do they make a serious run at Seager (unlikely), do they make a serious run at Scherzer (more likely), do they resign Kershaw at a club friendly deal (more likely), do they let Kelly, Jansen walk (most likely), do they resign Taylor (after what happened with Pederson and Hernandez, they have to). It will be a most interesting Hot Stove Season.

    • No doubt. I think everyone will sit tight until they the results of the CBA. Folks there is a very good chance we have no baseball in 2022. Anyone recall the winner of the 1994 WS? Ooops. There wasn’t one. Could be the same next year.

  6. Only reason dodgers fell short is Roberts he gets nervous and starts making dumb changes mishandling rotation sitting our best defensive catcher and pitcher handler Smith only focus on hitting while Barnes studies weaknesses of opposing hitters. Then using Lux in the most difficult outfield position Centefield. With no experience causing to loose game 2.Roberts is a good man but bad manager

    • Good point Luis.

      Did anyone notice during the Giants series how every time the camera would close in on Posey how he would always be looking at the batter BEFORE HE PUT DOWN A SIGN?? This is the sign of a veteran catcher. The single most important defensive position on the field. Is involved in every play of the game! Major reason Dodgers won in 2020 was the DH allowed Smith to DH and Barnes start at catcher! Folks when will you get this through your thick skulls?

      • I will add that it just happened to work out that Barnes caught several of Max Scherzer’s starts in the 2nd half of the season. Max would go out of his way every post game interview to give Barnes credit for calling a great game and being creative! Unfortunately this fell on deaf ears! Guess I was the only one listening! Truly tragic! Think it would have been a different outcome. Smith only hit .200+\- for the series anyway. Oh well

        • For those you interested, Smith batted .217 for the NLCS. Travis d’Arnaud, Braves catcher who is not known for his bat but is renowned for his DEFENSE batted .211! Just sayin! Folks wake up and smell the coffee!

  7. I agree that this season never “felt right” but maybe that blame goes to the Giants. Don’t feel like Kershaw and Scherzer are good investments because of age but do feel like Knebel and Jansen are worth it. Maybe put Trae Turner at short, move Seager to third and JT as DH with occasional backup to Seager. Lux can try 2nd again, keep Muncy on first. Pollock, Bellinger and Betts is a great outfield! Like Smith and Barnes behind the plate. Rios is back so finding two more bench guys is paramount. I would sign Taylor as a roving guy, trying to get him at least 450 ABs.

    • Greg, like most of what you say. Need to find out what CT3’s demands are and absolutely #1 FA priority above anyone else. If it’s a guaranteed starting spot? Sorry AJ, LF is CT3’s then. Pollock will be 34 and final year of his deal. Next highest priority FA are bullpen pieces. If 2021 hasn’t taught anything else it’s the value of a strong pen! Jansen, Kelly, Knebel (if feasible) should all be re-signed. Seager? Too expensive if you ask me. If $ no issue with ownership fine then. Starters: hopefully MLB provides a mulligan on the human dumpster fire. Max bring back on 2 yr deal, Kersh team friendly deal only, health sure a big concern.

      Bench most definitely needs reinforcements.

      Overall outlook still very bright looking forward.

      • DF4 … I appreciate your compliments but why do you always make me correct you. Please compare AJ and CT3 stats over the last 3 years.

        • Bum4, I’m only talking postseason. NL West titles don’t cut it. WS or bust. You don’t really want to go down this road here do you? AJ is wonderful during the regular season. Take away is wonderful performance in game 5 & 6 and what do you have left? Garbage! And you know it. Sorry buddy. Facts are facts. I know he’s your homie and I get it. I don’t blame you for wanting to stick up for him.

          • I’m no fan of Trea either because of his dismal postseason record as well. What good does it do you if can get to playoffs only to face plant once you get there? I don’t see the point.

        • Bum4, please don’t misunderstand my criticisms of AJ. I think he’s class guy. Good family man. I root for him all the time. Just wish his postseason record would match his regular season one! That’s all I have a problem with. 2019 0-13 with 11 K’s? Brutal.

    • I agree with everything expect I replace pollack with Taylor and move Pollack into. PH position.

  8. Been a Dodger since 1959 and when we won it all that year my third grade analysis resulted in this conclusion: we will win it every year from now forward. I thought that Podres, Drysdale, Koufax, Snider, Wills and Hodges were unbeatable and they would always be there! Needless to say, the intervening years were characterized by inestimable joy as well as lots of utter disappointment…I came to realize that for those of us who love it, “that’s baseball.” And, perhaps, that’s why we love it, especially for Dodger fans because every season we believe we’ve got a chance to win it all (that said, from 1989-2019 that belief was mightily challenged, but not quite to the level of the pre-2004 Boston fan who said he wanted the Red Sox players to be his pallbearers so they could let him down one more time). BOTTOM LINE: I feel sorry for all of us Dodger faithful and I feel a certain grief for the magnificent athletes who wore the uniform this year. Despite the disappointment, they were a superb group that will look much different next year. I’m no longer a third grader and now understand that change is life. So it will be with this team. But think about it, we’ve got to see JT, Seager, Kershaw, Jansen, Betts, Taylor, Muncy, Bellinger, Scherzer, Smith, T. Turner and Pollock (and the others) on the field in Dodger Blue, most at the same time. What a team! Is it any wonder they won 106! “Roll down the window, put down the top Crank up The Beach Boys, baby Don’t let the music stop We’re gonna ride it till We just cant ride it no more!” I love L.A.

    • Arthur, thank you for your recount. It is truly a blessing to be a Dodger fan. We field a competitive team each year. More than I can say for the other 29 MLB teams. Imagine the lament of being a Padres fan? Sheesh

      Saddled with MM’s contract and attitude? No thank you.

  9. However you look at it, however you read it, however you interpret the data, whichever way you spin it, the Dodgers blew it this year. Mookie Betts gets paid almost a half a billion dollars and he isn’t much of a clutch hitter. For that price he ought to be. The bench, noticeably weakened from last year, isn’t managed very effectively, either by executive or managerial decisions or both. It was a failure from top to bottom, unless of course you happen to believe that was the strategy going in. To only have a competitive team, not a world series championship team in order to keep fan interest high and paying to come out to the games but not to lose interest because winning became passe.

    • Ron, no one could have anticipated losing two key players on the final weekend of the year. Dodgers were in position to repeat. Came up just short. Pretty solid year if you ask me. I really think they got a raw deal having won 106 games and not having home field advantage against a team with 88 wins. MLB has some really stupid rules. Even with the injuries, having home field advantage most likely would have found Dodgers in the WS again. Just sayin

  10. Seager wants Tatis money. He can get that from the Angels. Trea to short and maybe Lux has figured out the hitting enough to play 2B. Scherzer and CT3 are MUST RESIGNS. I’m afraid max will bolt to his hometown Cardinals. Albert & Kersh should be signed to 1 yr “valedictory” contracts so that they can retire together and go into the HoF together. Resigning the bullpen pieces is critical too.

  11. IF the DH comes JT is perfect. IF Seager & agent are REASONABLE he makes most sense @ 3B if willing. TT @ SS & Lux/CT3 @2B improve defense? REASONABLE contracts for CT3, Kershaw, Scherzer, & Kenley after unload Bauer embarrassment. Focus on TEAM not personal $$ brings championships (who can spend $1 million a MONTH in salary?)

  12. That’s what happens when you win a Championship during a 50 game season. The next year it’s back to runner up status. If any championship deserves an asterisk, it’s the Dodgers 2021 SHAM title. 50 games is a joke!!!

    • Sorry but you’re completely wrong. The 2020 run to the championship required 2 extra wins and was played without home field advantage (at least fans) for the best team. It was the most difficult run in MLB history. Now you can torture the numbers how ever you see fit to make them confess to your distorted view but facts are facts. Anyone claiming it was a sham, joke, or asterisked is simply spewing nonsense inspired by their hatred for the team.

      • Sorry but you’re the one that’s wrong. Playing an extra playoff game or 2 does not make up for the fact that you played a 50 game season. You sound like a homer. The Dodgers still don’t have a real Championship since the 80s..

        • I am a homer which is why I visit this board but that doesn’t change the facts. The 50 game season was irrelevant to playoff run. It was the most difficult playoff run to a championship in MLB history and it’s indisputable.

      • Bum4, obviously Parker is a cheaters fan. Pay no attention to the nitwit.

        Hey Parker…nice 5 home loses in a row in the WS for your stinking cheaters! Lol

        • Sorry but I can’t help myself. One of the biggest problems in world today is tolerance for those who arrogantly spew opinions without a shred of fact.

    • And if your team had won, I am sure they would’ve rejected the trophy, and you would have been thrilled that they did.

      Why did MLB even bother playing any games in 2020, then? All teams were up against the same circumstances. Someone was going to win. And the Dodgers had to win more playoff games than any other team in history.

      Give it a rest.

  13. Baseball has gone Political , So sad . I was wondering if the games were going to be played in Atlanta for the W orld Series Manfred gave his soul to a Certain Political Party look at what has happened in just 9 short months , who knows what restrictions will be made in 2022 pertaining to MLB keep up the good work Manfred ! On another note , Thank You Dodgers , wish you all success .

  14. I agree that Manfred Mann (Commissioner of Baseball) is pathetic. However, look at it from his prospective. He has a position in name only – basically no responsibility. As any commissioner who is hired by the owners, he is their puppet. He makes far more money than he could in any other job in the entire world. I guess from my perspective (and probably from his too), he “has it made”.

    • No responsibility? Are you serious? He has the upmost in responsibility! To uphold the integrity of baseball is the ultimate responsibility! He is a complete failure!

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