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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Dodgers’ Quiet Offseason Is Perfectly Defensible

The Dodgers’ offseason has been perfectly fine.

It does not take much to see it this way. Start with some foundational information: The Dodgers entered as the favorite to win the NL West, and a strong candidate to win more than that, and they remain the favorite to win the NL West, and a strong candidate to win more than that. This winter was never going to create any new holes for them; they had relatively few departing free agents, and they have considerable young talent on the rise, anyway. Add the actual record of their offseason action: Their first move was to add Blake Treinen, capably addressing last year’s lone problem area, the ‘pen. They went on to make the no-risk-potential-reward signings of Jimmy Nelson and Alex Wood. They have not done anything else, but if that concerns you, well, circle back to that foundation. Did they have to do anything else? It’s… fine!

But an offseason is full of material besides the foundation and the raw action. There’s all that fits in between; there’s what a team could have done, what it claimed that it tried to do, how all of this matches what it did last season and the one before and the one before. There’s context. And to evaluate the Dodgers’ offseason in context is to see a winter that had room to be unusual.

It started with talk that had been rare for the team under Andrew Friedman, rumors about the race for not just one of the best available free agents, but for each of Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon. This was new: The Dodgers’ previous few winters involved minimal (reported) engagement with premium free agents. That wasn’t the condemnation that it could have felt like for other teams; they’d still spent money, and, above all, they’d won anyway. But those wins had not included a World Series, even after seven consecutive division titles, and so it did not seem wild to wonder if all of this had led them to a tipping point. Simply by seriously talking about Strasburg or Cole or Rendon, they’d established an interest in a different move here. They just didn’t make one.

Is it just me, or does this reek of “famous last words”?

 

QLE Posted: January 14, 2020 at 01:06 AM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dodgers, offseason

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   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 14, 2020 at 10:51 AM (#5915556)
They won 106 games last year. They have two top prospects coming up in Lux and May and the rest of their division is garbage. They’ll be fine.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: January 14, 2020 at 05:05 PM (#5915753)
The Dodgers’ previous few winters involved minimal (reported) engagement with premium free agents.

Other than the reports of a 4/$180 offer to Harper last year. There were also reports they made an offer to Machado although I saw no specifics and he was kinda one of their own FAs.

Anyway, sure, they're an excellent bet to win their division but that's not really the Dodgers' goal. There's of course only so much they can do to give themselve slightly better odds in the postseason but they haven't done those this offseason. Staying pat doesn't seem to work all that well in baseball -- see the Cubs and the 2019 Red Sox. The Astros didn't stand pat adding Cole a couple of years ago, grabbing Greinke last year, signing Brantley. (Of course the Nats did stand pat and lost Harper and they turned out OK.)

Not that they had much chance of repeating but Ryu and Hill gave them 42 starts of about a 175 ERA+ (or 6.4 WAR). They are far from hurting at SP, heck might be the best rotation top to bottom, but they'll be reasonably lucky to replace half those wins. The bullpen clearly could improve but maybe that's where all those extra SP are headed.

On the one hand, it's hard to see them winning fewer than 95 games (partly due to their weak division)** but it's looking like a slightly worse team than last year in true talent meaning they'll need a little more luck than before to win the WS. No, I don't have a crystal ball and obviously if Lux is the next Utley and the young pitchers are as good as Buehler and Muncy continues to be a poor man's Giambi and Bellinger continues to be the player we thought Bryce Harper would be, etc. then there's no drop off in talent and they could easily win more than 100 again.

** This is just meant as recognition that almost no team ever projects to 95 wins much less more than that. Maybe these guys will (don't recall last year's) but more likely 92-93 in some absolute sense then the weak division hands them a few extra wins. They are a very strong team with depth and versatility and will probably only play a handful of games this year where they aren't the more talented team on the field but ... baseball.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: January 14, 2020 at 05:32 PM (#5915761)
Of course the Nats did stand pat and lost Harper and they turned out OK


I don't think the Nats stood pat. Sure, they lost a big ticket guy, but the signed Corbin to a nice deal, then complemented that with FA deals to Sanchez, Dozier, Gomes and Suzuki. To their credit (and reward), they didn't treat the loss of Harper as a reason to go into shutdown mode.
   4. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 14, 2020 at 07:48 PM (#5915801)
Other than the reports of a 4/$180 offer to Harper last year.


I guess, but what were the odds that Harper was going to take that? It strikes me more or less as a, "Hell, if he says yes, we've got the money," kind of situation. Not at all like trying to lock down Machado or pursue Trout or Betts.

signed Corbin to a nice deal, then complemented that with FA deals to Sanchez, Dozier, Gomes and Suzuki


Yep. The Nats realistically assessed their situation and made some adjustments. Going wild would have been an overreaction to losing a good-not-great player like Harper, and they've consistently had one of the best rosters in the NL for years. They similarly resisted overreacting after 2015.
   5. Sunday silence Posted: January 14, 2020 at 08:12 PM (#5915810)
Going wild would have been an overreaction to losing a good-not-great player like Harper, and they've consistently had one of the best rosters in the NL for years.


this.

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