Well, Christmas has come and gone and Dodgers fans did not find a new starter or another right-handed batter under their tree. While many times here I have said that the Dodgers don’t need to make immediate upgrades, it still would have been nice to have a holiday surprise.
As Dodgers fans well know, they have won the West for seven straight seasons, the most in franchise history. Aside from the 2018 season when the division title went down to Game 162, they also have won the division pretty handily. They have won at least 91 games in those seasons, and last year won a record 106 games.
The second place teams have changed behind them, but the Dodgers are a juggernaut in the West. And so even while they haven’t done much so far this offseason, they are still a huge favorite to win the division again for the eighth straight time.
“The Dodgers,” an NL West official said to McCullough, “just make things so much harder for us.”
Thus, says McCullough, the Dodgers don’t really feel the need to urgently make upgrades, as the rest of the west just can’t keep up.
Not that teams aren’t necessarily trying. The Giants are in a bit of a rebuild, so they won’t be competitive for awhile. But they do have Farhan Zaidi, once of the Dodgers front office, who will no doubt use what he learned in Los Angeles to improve his current club. They finished 29 games behind the Dodgers last season in third place. So far this offseason, they have selected Rico Garcia, Kean Wong, and old friend Trevor Oaks off of waivers. Tyler Anderson was re-signed, and Kevin Gausman will compete to join their pitching rotation.
The Rockies have been quiet so far this winter. They finished one game behind the Giants with 71 wins and fourth place in the division. Shortstop Eric Stamets was signed as a free agent, and they selected pitcher Tyler Kinley off waivers from the Marlins.
After finishing in second place, albeit 21 games out, the Diamondbacks only have made one major move thus far, signing free agent Madison Bumgarner. While he said he was interested in joining the Dodgers, Bumgarner chose Arizona so he could be closer to his horses (incidentally one of which is named after Clayton Kershaw). The Snakes also signed utility man Stephen Vogt, also a former Giant, as well as right-handed pitcher Junior Guerra.
And last but not least, there are the Padres. Signing one of the two biggest free agents last year in Manny Machado did little to help them get out of the cellar in the West. The Friars have been the busiest of the NL West teams so far this winter. They re-signed utility man Seth Mejias-Brean. Also, Drew Pomeranz, another former Giant, signed as a free agent. But the Pads have been busiest on the trade front.
In November, they traded Eric Lauer and Luis Urias and a player to be named later to the Brewers for Zach Davies and Trent Grisham. December saw two trades, one sending Austin Allen to the Athletics for infielder Jurickson Profar. The other was with the Rays, which sent minor leaguer Xavier Edwards and Hunter Renfroe to Tampa in exchange for minor leaguer Jake Cronenworth and outfielder Tommy Pham.
None of these transactions amongst the four team seem like they will make a huge impact on the way the NL West will shake out next October. But, as we all know, the divisional rivals aren’t the true competition for the Dodgers, it’s which team wins the other two divisions and the Wild Card game, as they well learned this past season.
And so we will continue to wait until the front office deems it time to make a move.
The beat goes on.