The Los Angeles Dodgers finally reached the pinnacle in 2020. After a 32-year drought and nearly a decade of disappointing finishes, they are World Series champions.
Of course, just reaching the top doesn’t mean the work is done for the Dodgers front office. This is a franchise that’s determined to stay on top for as long as possible. We’ve seen that commitment since a new group of owners fronted by Magic Johnson took over in 2012. And we’ve especially seen it over the last 10 months, when Mookie Betts was not only acquired from the Boston Red Sox, but signed to a 12-year extension.
The question, then, is what a franchise that seemingly has it all could possibly want or need during the offseason.
The answer is everything. The Dodgers want it all. And, to be perfectly honest, there are some things they actually need. They might be loaded and positioned to dominate baseball for the next decade, but the grind of a season has a way of exposing and sometimes even creating flaws. As we saw in 2020, the Dodgers bullpen became a liability that left them vulnerable to another crushing elimination in the NLCS. It’s not just about plugging holes, it’s about creating depth.
Below, we’ve formulated three potential offseason plans we believe would best position Los Angeles to solidify its place as MLB’s team to beat. Then we’ll let you decide which plan would work the best.
Sign Trevor Bauer
The rich get richer approach seems to be the Dodgers’ preferred plan every offseason. Spending big money to add NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer to a rotation that already includes Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin would certainly qualify.
Do the Dodgers need Bauer? They just won the World Series without him, so probably not. Why would we pursue him anyway as the Dodgers GM? Well, for starters, it would keep another contending team from signing Bauer and coming up to our level. All of the big spenders will be pursuing Bauer, and that group now includes the New York Mets.
On one hand, it’s a luxury. On the other, it’s insurance. Clayton Kershaw isn’t the workhorse he once was, now coming off several seasons of back and neck issues. Getting 30 starts from the three-time Cy Young winner is no longer the expectation. Having another ace would soften the blow if Kershaw needs to miss time.
Those are the pros. Honestly, we can’t think of any cons beyond potentially losing fan-favorite free agents like Justin Turner or Kiké Hernández if the Bauer bidding war soars.
Reload the bullpen
At times during the postseason nobody knew for sure who manager Dave Roberts could rely on out of the bullpen. Closer Kenley Jansen struggled down the stretch, which sent him toggling between mop-up duty and meaningful innings. Veterans Blake Treinen, Joe Kelly, Pedro Báez and Jake McGee all had closing experience, but also faltered when it mattered most. That forced Roberts to use starters Dustin May and Julio Urias as bridge relievers.
Treinen, Báez, McGee and Alex Wood are all free agents this offseason, meaning this is a time to overhaul the whole relief corps through trades, free agency or some combination of both.
On the trade market, Josh Hader and Rasiel Iglesias are clearly the best available arms. Hader wasn’t as sharp in 2020, posting a 3.79 ERA over 19 innings. But his past dominance is difficult to overlook. Iglesias was superb during the regular season, posting a 2.74 ERA and 0.91 WHIP while recording eight saves. Ideally, we’ll go out and get Hader, but we’ll take either.
In free agency, Liam Hendriks, Brad Hand, Trevor Rosenthal, Trevor May, Kirby Yates and Alex Colome have some appeal. We’re the Dodgers, so we might be able to convince one or two to take less money to pitch for a championship contender. Either way, we have the resources to turn the bullpen from a weakness into a strength if we pull the right strings.
Trade for Lance Lynn, re-sign Justin Turner
Perhaps the best of all worlds for Los Angeles would be making room for free agent mainstays like Justin Turner, Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernández, while compiling depth that wouldn’t cost nearly as much as Bauer.
In that scenario, the ideal move would be acquiring veteran right-hander Lance Lynn from the Texas Rangers. Many actually expected this move to happen at the 2020 trade deadline, but for whatever reason if never materialized. Now that the door is open again, we can bring in a veteran innings eater to shore up the rotation.
Going this route should create more flexibility for other needs. Again, we’re thinking about those bullpen upgrades.
Then again, we’re the Dodgers. Maybe we’ll just make all three plans work and still have money left to spend.
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