The Dodgers entered the winter in a gloomy state after a bitterly disappointing end to the 2019 season. But the team’s outlook remains exceptionally bright, with a compelling mix of established veterans, elite young talent, and quality role players along with the means to bolster and/or supplement that group as desired.
Despite the Dodgers’ regular-season and postseason successes — the team has seven-straight NL West titles and made it to the World Series in 2017 and 2018 — the lack of a ring and the stunning recent NLDS wash-out have left a lingering sense that something more or different could or even should be done. Reporting indicates there’s an internal a desire to shake things up in some manner, though obviously the front office isn’t inclined to reinvent the wheel.
It’s not unlike the sunny malaise experienced by the organization’s forebears in Brooklyn. Those Dodgers had an enormously successful decade without a crown (1945 to 1954) and fell short in the World Series four times in seven years (1947 to 1953). They waited ’til next year until finally breaking through in 1955.
The present-day Dodgers hope it won’t be quite that dramatic when they finally win it all. But there are quite a few more MLB teams and playoff rounds now than there used to be, making it harder to control randomness. That increases the appeal of prioritizing long-term competitiveness — the Nationals’ own recent breakthrough helps demonstrate this — but also perhaps speaks in favor of maximizing those clear chances that do arise to win it all.
The Dodgers have managed to walk an impressive line between long and short-term goals. Still, it hasn’t come together quite yet. With so many pieces already in place, the focus entering the present offseason was on adding true impact talent. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spoke of having a dozen-player wish list. While the club has made a few targeted investments in buy-low, high-upside pitchers, it has yet to swing a major deal for a star player.
Surely some or most of the L.A. targets are already off the board in one way or another — all of the top free agents have signed, of course — but there’s little doubt that a few remain available. We’ve long heard, especially, that the Dodgers maintain interest in superstars Mookie Betts of the Red Sox and Francisco Lindor of the Indians. Cleveland ace Mike Clevinger is another who has come up in rumors. And it stands to reason there are a few other high-quality players of interest.
Dodgers president/CEO Stan Kasten said earlier this winter that the organization is “laser-focused” on winning a World Series after coming maddeningly close in recent years. “There are guys that we think could be difference makers and we have pursued them, we are continuing to pursue them, when there is an opportunity we will certainly jump at it,” Kasten explained.
The clock is ticking but there’s time left before Spring Training opens. A mid-camp strike is less likely but perhaps not out of the realm of possibility. So … do you think the Dodgers will pull off a blockbuster before the start of the season?
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