MLB Offseason Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

MLB Offseason Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

by October 31, 2020 3 comments

The Los Angeles Dodgers are finally World Series Champions for the first time in 32 years. They have some work to do this winter if they are going to retain the title.

The Dodgers are favorites to win the 2021 World Series just days after capturing their first commissioner’s trophy since 1988. They made it to back-to-back World Series in 2017 and 2018 but were not able to get over the hump. It took the acquisition of former AL MVP Mookie Betts to put them over the top.

Clayton Kershaw, with the cloud of not performing in October hanging over his head, was dominant throughout the postseason. His Game 5 performance (5 2/3 innings giving up just 2 runs) set the Dodgers up to clinch in Game 6.

Most people forget that David Price, a former Cy Young award-winner, opted out of the season due to concern over COVID-19. That didn’t stop Los Angeles from handling the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, and finally the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. Price returns in 2021 to set up a “big three” in the rotation consisting of Walker Buehler, Kershaw, and himself.

Offseason Strategy

The Dodgers are obviously the best team in baseball heading into the winter. There are not many areas for Andrew Friedman to improve the club, but a big question mark is the status of the bullpen. Kenley Jansen was their closer at the beginning of the season but again struggled in big spots, most notably in Game 4 of the World Series. His night was capped off with him not backing up home plate on Brett Phillips‘ walk-off single.

Keys to the Offseason

Add Bullpen Depth

Blake Treinen, Pedro Baez, Alex Wood, and Jake McGee are all free agents this offseason. Friedman will have to make it one of his priorities to bring a combination of the four back or try to find the right bullpen pieces via free agency.

Treinen was the Dodgers’ best reliever in the postseason aside from perhaps Julio Urias. Treinen frequently stepped up in early and late-game situations with runners on and got out of jams, so he will be a valuable asset to the team that signs him.

Re-sign their fan favorites

There several Los Angeles fan favorites that are hitting the free-agent market that were instrumental to what the Dodgers accomplished in 2020. If they are not brought back, it might not be huge news but it will certainly make it harder for Los Angeles to repeat in 2021.

Offseason Targets

Justin Turner, 35, Third Base

Turner should be one of the biggest priorities for the Dodgers this offseason. If you ask any Dodgers player who the heart and soul of their team is, the answer is Turner.

He is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after he went back onto the field without a mask to celebrate the win, having tested positive twice for COVID-19 and being removed from Game 6 after the seventh inning.

The third baseman will be coveted in the free-agent market because he has shown that he is valuable with the bat, but he’s even more valuable defensively at the hot corner. He certainly showed that numerous times in October. Expect for Turner to want a deal in the three to five-year range if the money is there.

Blake Treinen, 32, Relief Pitcher

While most relievers are going to suffer from the millions of dollars that the owners have lost in 2020, Treinen should not be in that group. He proved this season that he is one of the most valuable relievers in the league, as he was able to bail out a struggling Dodgers bullpen during the postseason.

Treinen will likely go one of two routes:

  1. Look to cash in off a great 2020 season (deal in the three-year range)
  2. Get a high AAV on a one-year deal and go back into the market when owners have recouped some of their money with fans in the stands
Kiké Hernández, 29, Utility Infielder/Outfielder

Hernandez is a fan favorite in Los Angeles. Although he struggled late in the postseason due to a lack of consistent at-bats, he is still important to the Dodgers’ success. His versatility enables him to play wherever Dave Roberts needs him, so when he is hot at the plate he can replace their star players like Betts and Cody Bellinger when they need a day off.

Do not expect Hernandez to get a long term deal, however. There simply is not going to be a huge market for someone not among the top tier of free agents.

Trevor Bauer, 29, Starting Pitcher

Bauer has to be included in any list of potential targets for the Dodgers because, well, they’re the Dodgers.

Bauer is coming off the best season of his career which will likely result in a National League Cy Young award, as he led the Cincinnati Reds to their first postseason appearance since 2013.

You could say that Bauer is currently the voice of baseball, as he has been very vocal about the Astros cheating scandal and has already begun to tease fan bases about where he will go in free agency.

The right-hander is the most intriguing free agent this winter because nobody knows who or if there are even any favorites to sign him. Every team could be in on him and he could go a variety of different directions in terms of the length of his next contract.

He has said before that he will only sign one-year contracts for the rest of his career, but his agent Rachel Luba has said he will consider all offers. A team like the Dodgers could sign him to a one-year, $50 million contract which would be hard for him to resist. He could also cash in on his Cy Young-caliber year with a longer deal in the 5-year range worth $200 million.

Expect the Dodgers to go after Bauer but only on a very short term basis.

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