After a stunning first-round exit in 2019, it’s clear the Los Angeles Dodgers need to retool many facets of their organizational philosophy. While Dave Roberts was quickly assured of his job, one major change may come in Andrew Friedman being courted by the Boston Red Sox.
I’ll be honest: I don’t think this franchise is bringing home that flagged trophy with Dave Roberts at the managerial helm. I said just as much within hours of the season’s end. A true change in philosophy would have to start with that, but it won’t happen.
Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other changes that can be made. Whether it’s Friedman or someone else in charge this off-season, one thing’s for sure: it’s time to finally make big moves to seriously upgrade the team. Ones that are a clear departure from the frugality of recent winters.
The pickings of these past two hot stove seasons were miniscule. After building a perfect bullpen in 2017, the front office has since opted for the likes of Scott Alexander and Joe Kelly. A.J. Pollock’s contract last off-season now looks like a potential albatross after a historic disaster of an NLDS.
The biggest gets were arguably reunion projects Matt Kemp and Russell Martin, which while a boon for their respective squads (moreso Kemp in 2018) don’t exactly set the imagination on fire. On the other hand, the addition-by-subtraction Yasiel Puig trade proved a triumph on every level.
Looking back, this approach didn’t make sense other than to adhere to the luxury tax, an ownership concern few fans share. The team still won another pennant in 2018, and set the franchise record for wins in 2019, so they haven’t necessarily regressed from 2017. Yet those successes only further consideration of how much better the team could have been with more ambitious acquisitions.
This isn’t a retroactive lament of not getting Giancarlo Stanton or Bryce Harper, as passing on both was the right move. But it’s not like those were the only big transactions that could have been made.
For a sobering contrast, consider how the Houston Astros have operated in the same span of time. Fresh off winning a World Series, they acquired Gerrit Cole by trade for 2018, then stealthily picked up Michael Brantley this past off-season. Even if you take away trade pickups like Ryan Pressly and Zack Greinke, those two alone made a champion team even more supreme.
Now, more than ever, the Dodgers should make similar moves. To be clear, this also is not clamoring for a big move for the sake of it. The marquee names slated to be on the market in the coming months would stand to be enormous potential moves for the Dodgers, ones that could even put them over the top in 2020.
Most eminent is Gerrit Cole, currently in the midst of a world-conquering postseason. Cole is the perfect prospective Dodger: a Newport Beach native, a UCLA alumnus, and a record-setting machine on the mound. He’s also practical, as it would make parting with Hyun-Jin Ryu that much easier. Imagine a rotation of Cole/Buehler/Kershaw/May/Urias. That could prove unbeatable in October.
Next is Anthony Rendon, fresh off adding his name to the Clayton Kershaw October nightmare brigade. Especially as insurance for Justin Turner, it would make for perhaps the best infield in baseball, at least one of them. If the Dodgers were willing to pony up a plump contract to Joe Kelly for incinerating them in the playoffs last year, it makes infinitely more sense to do the same for an MVP candidate.
Free agency isn’t the only avenue by which Los Angeles can radically change. With layers of depth and young players, they also have surplus trade chips. One trade proposal that caught my attention is a package based around Corey Seager for Francisco Lindor.
My offseason wish list (in order).
1. Sign Gerrit Cole at all costs.
2. Build a package around Corey Seager and prospects for Francisco Lindor.
3. Sign Will Smith (LHP).
4. Take a flyer on Brandon Morrow.
5. Unload salary if possible, otherwise pay the CBT.
— #DoodleYourFriend ? (@dodgerdudel) October 12, 2019
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost five whole years since Friedman’s ambitious winter overhaul in 2014, when he took a cluttered roster and almost instantly reshaped it into something more functional and coherent. It’s now time for a similar shakeup in 2019, one that signifies the team’s willingness to acknowledge their current formula isn’t working and upgrade it accordingly.
The alternative is to continue the painfully demure approach of the past two off-seasons. An approach that, in retrospect, was truly unbecoming of a team coming off a tough World Series loss both times.
Now, following a playoff loss that is an unqualified failure and step back, it would make even less sense to continue in that vein. It’s time for an impact move or two to signify that the Los Angeles Dodgers mean business now more than ever.