Status: Pushing for a title
The Dodgers represented the National League in the World Series in 2017 and 2018. Losses to the Astros and Red Sox were painful for Dave Roberts and co., but they are many people’s favourite to feature in the Fall Classic once again.
After letting free agent Manny Machado leave to eventually land with the Padres on a 10-year deal, the Dodgers were one of the teams strongly linked to Bryce Harper, although a deal never came to fruition.
They were active in the free agent market, though, with A.J. Pollock signing after his seven years in Phoenix came to an end and Joe Kelly coming in from the Red Sox. Kelly is likely to serve as a permanent setup to Kenley Jansen, a role the Dodgers struggled to fill at times last time out.
Yasmani Grandal signed a one-year deal with the Brewers after being left to leave for free, leaving a spot on the roster for Russell Martin, who was brought in from the Blue Jays with Andrew Sopko and Ronny Brito going the other way.
What to watch
The Dodgers will be looking for more of the same to a certain extent, and despite grumblings from fans who might have wanted more big moves in the offseason, the roster is balanced and deep.
Lots could hinge on the health of several key figures, as questions remain about Clayton Kershaw and his dreaded ‘left shoulder soreness’. It is unrealistic to expect him to be at his very best this season, if ever again, yet it would not be a massive surprise if he added a fourth pitch to his arsenal and found more ways to make outs at a highly-competitive clip.
It remains to be seen how well Corey Seager finds his feet after such a long while out of the game, and after committing to four years of A.J. Pollock the front office will first be looking for the center-fielder to stay healthy – he’s only managed 500+ plate appearances once in his seven year career.
Such is the extraordinary depth of the organisation, however, that even with question marks hanging over the health of Seager, Pollock and Kershaw, there is reason for optimism in Los Angeles. Further development might reasonably be expected of Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler, to name just two, and who knows who this season’s Max Muncy might turn out to be?
Suffering 10 losses more than their Pythagorean record, the Dodgers were probably the victims of some bad luck in the regular season last year, and the NL West should never have been so tightly-contested. Widely projected to win the division for the seventh straight year, the Dodgers would be forgiven for being disappointed with anything less than a deep run into the postseason.
Blessed with incredible depth and the capacity to retool at the deadline should any weaknesses arise, it is hard to bet against them reaching their third consecutive Fall Classic, and they won’t want to walk away empty-handed again.