The Dodgers announced that they’ve reached an agreement with manager Dave Roberts on a contract extension that runs through the 2022 season. Los Angeles had previously exercised Roberts’ option for the 2019 season, but he’ll now be under contract for an additional three guaranteed season. That it was announced as a four-year contract may indicate that Roberts was also given a raise for the upcoming season.
“Keeping Doc as our leader on the field was a top priority this offseason and now that we’ve accomplished that we are excited to collectively shift all of our focus to doing all we can to bring a World Championship to our passionate fans,” said president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman in a statement announcing the move.
Since Roberts was hired in the 2015-16 offseason, the Dodgers have gone 287-199 in regular-season play, won three NL West Division titles and won two National League pennants en route to consecutive World Series appearances. Despite the glowing results, Roberts has drawn the ire of some Dodgers fans — as is the case with most postseason managers who ultimately fall short — particularly with regard to bullpen management and a rather rigid reliance on platoon-based lineup construction. Of course, it’s easy to zero in on relatively isolated incidents in a short series and lay blame on any manager when those moves don’t work out. Sticking with Enrique Hernandez throughout a prolonged slump in the postseason, for instance, was a particular point of contention among Dodger fans, but Roberts was surely more focused on Hernandez’s generally strong numbers against lefties over a much larger sample.
Regardless of which side of that type of issue on takes, it’s tough to dispute Roberts’ results in terms of the team’s performance in getting to the World Series in two straight years. While he undeniably had plenty of star power on his side, Roberts also at times had to lean heavily on rookies and relative unknowns while dealing with injuries to high-profile talent. Clayton Kershaw has missed time in each of the past three seasons. Corey Seager was a non-factor in 2018 due to Tommy John surgery early in the year. Players like Chris Taylor, Max Muncy and Ross Stripling have emerged from obscurity to play prominent roles in the team’s success, while veterans such as Brandon Morrow and Matt Kemp have enjoyed career renaissances in L.A. in recent seasons.
To that end, Roberts has also done well to manage what has, at times, felt like an overcrowded roster — one with numerous high-profile players who have been accustomed to much larger roles than they found on a deep Dodgers roster. By all accounts, Roberts has done well to maintain a strong clubhouse environment and to get veteran players to buy into more limited roles with an eye toward the bigger picture. That’s no small task, and while a pair of crushing World Series losses has made Roberts a polarizing figure for Dodgers faithful, the front office is clearly more than confident that he’s the right person to return the Dodgers to another Fall Classic and take care of unfinished business.
“When I was hired to lead this team three years ago, I said at the time that managing the Dodgers is truly the opportunity of a lifetime and I feel the exact same way today,” said Roberts in a statement of his own. “We’ve worked hard to develop a team and culture that will put us in position to win the World Series every season, but we still have yet to achieve our ultimate goal and that is what drives me each day. I want to thank Andrew, Stan Kasten and our outstanding ownership group for believing in me and keeping me in Dodger Blue, a uniform I’m so proud to wear.”