The Dodgers head into the 2020 off-season after being eliminated by the eventual World Series winner for the fourth straight season—at least you can say the championship runs through Los Angeles…
As it’s currently constructed, the Dodgers roster would likely compete for a playoff spot, which is a good start for any team heading into the off-season. The problem is the Dodgers haven’t won a World Series in 31 years.
This is the time for the Dodgers to make a splash, whether it’s Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Mookie Betts or another player of that caliber. They have the resources and the need to get a deal done, no more excuses.
However, even after acquiring a star, they will still have more work to do.
#1: Sign a front of the rotation starting pitcher
Right now, the Dodgers have seven starting pitchers on their roster: Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Dustin May, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin. While there is a lot of talent and potential there, it’s also filled with questions and inexperience.
Adding a pitcher like Cole or Stephen Strasburg would help answer those problems and give them another true ace to pair with Walker Buehler. Another pitcher who makes a lot of sense is Zack Wheeler. Signing Wheeler would be betting on a breakout, so it could be risky, but he has the talent to do it and could end up as a steal this off-season.
Right now, the Dodgers rotation is good, but they need at least one more starting pitcher with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill heading into the free-agent pool.
#2: Try to acquire a star for the lineup
Every regular season, the Dodgers have one of the best offenses in baseball. Every October, the Dodgers forget how to hit the ball at some point in the postseason and it ends their run.
While the Dodgers don’t need to add a star bat, it’s something they should do with the options who are available. The best two options are Betts or Rendon, but they could also swing a deal with Cleveland for Francisco Lindor.
I personally believe they should offer Rendon all the money, and then some more after that. But I would also be happy with Betts, who might even be a better fit position wise. I prefer Rendon because it wouldn’t cost prospects to get him and I like his bat more for the long term.
A Seager—plus something like Joc and Stripling—deal for Lindor makes sense, but Seager has been a more productive hitter throughout his career, so it likely wouldn’t have the same impact as Rendon or Betts would.
If they can’t add a top-tier bat, they don’t really have a need for a starting position player.
#3: Add upside flyers for the bullpen
Constructing a bullpen is arguably the most frustrating thing a general manager has to do in any sport. Simply put, relievers are volatile, so it’s rare to build a strong pen by paying relievers for past production. Paying large money for big-name relievers backfires more than it works.
The best way to do it is by getting all the options you can find and seeing what sticks.
You could bring in a guy who has talent but was injured, like Brandon Morrow. Maybe you move a struggling starter to the pen, such as Shelby Miller, or maybe you sign a guy with great stuff who just couldn’t produce and hope he turns it around, like Jake Diekman.
Or better yet, you sign them all and some more on cheap deals.
If they want to pay someone based on production, Chris Martin should be their target because he likely won’t receive a long-term, high money deal.
#4: Fill out the roster
At this point, the Dodgers should have a new starting pitcher, a lineup upgrade and strong bullpen competition. All that’s left is to put the finishing touches and add some depth or role players. This will depend on what else they do in the off-season.
If they trade Stripling or another starting pitcher, adding a veteran option such as Rich Hill would be wise. Adding a veteran catcher to compete with Austin Barnes for the backup job would be a good decision.
They should also look to bring in any players with upside who could help them. Scooter Gennett could turn into a nice bench piece coming off a down season. Another move they could make is to bring in a guy like Adam Jones to replace David Freese as the team dad and bring “veteran presents” to the clubhouse.
This is a vague part of the checklist because it’s dependent on their other moves, but it plays an important part of the team-building process.
The ideal off-season
The Dodgers should be willing to go over the luxury tax this year. It remains to be seen if they will, but if they are willing to handle it for a year, they can make some major upgrades to their already good team.
- Sign Wheeler (Cole or Strasburg likely takes them out of the Rendon and Betts sweepstakes)
- Acquire one of Anthony Rendon or Mookie Betts
- Trade for Lindor (send Seager, Pederson, Stripling)
- Sign upside relievers (such as Morrow, Diekman, Drew Pomeranz, Darren O’Day, Tony Barnette, Tyler Thornburg)
- Re-sign Rich Hill
What’s your ideal off-season for the Dodgers? Let us know in the comments below!