As the steam from this winter’s hot stove has seemingly subsided, hopefully the anger and frustration resulting from the Houston and Boston scandals follow suit. The fallout from these improprieties has been especially hurtful to all those affiliated with the Dodgers, but like anything else, perhaps the coaching staff and the players can try to turn these negatives into positives, producing a boundless energy that will lead them to success during the upcoming campaign.
Even though these sign-stealing scandals have dominated the news, one secondary subject among fans of the Dodgers has been whether or not the team is finished making additions to the player roster. While there were a few additions, none of them were deemed to be overwhelming by any standards.
Nevertheless, all three of the newest Dodgers—Blake Treinen, Jimmy Nelson and Alex Wood—do indeed have the capabilities of making significant impacts in 2020. In the case of Treinen, it’s just a matter of recapturing the mojo he had during his 2018 campaign (which might be a tall task) when he posted a ridiculous 0.78 ERA and 1.82 FIP with 38 saves over 68 appearances. For Nelson and Wood, the biggest factor might be whether both veterans will be able to maintain their health.
If he’s throwing well, Treinen is certainly an upgrade to a bullpen that has faced plenty of scrutiny over the past few seasons. However, where and if either Nelson and Wood contribute remains to be seen. One thing we do know, though, is that both players were signed to big league contracts and neither have options remaining, so there’s a good chance both will be part of the Opening Day roster. And, unless the Dodgers decide to employ a six-man rotation, one of the two will probably find himself assuming the duties of a reliever.
In essence, I guess you could say that front-office boss Andrew Friedman has addressed the needs of both the starting rotation and the relief corps, although the success of those additions he made depends on quite a few variables. And gambles.
One area that hasn’t been addressed is the absence of a quality right-handed bat to compliment Justin Turner. The Dodgers have been plentiful when it comes to lefty hitters over the past several seasons, but they haven’t been quite the same in the power department since they lost righty hitters Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Yasmani Grandal. When we view the raw numbers that Puig, Kemp and Grandal contributed in 2018, along with those of Manny Machado and Brian Dozier (just when they were with the Dodgers), the tally comes out to a whopping 86 home runs and 278 RBI—just between those players.
As far as current right-handed hitters go on the prospective 26-man roster, Turner is flanked by A.J. Pollock, Will Smith, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Austin Barnes—a group that’s certainly nothing to write home about. Andy discussed Pollock a bit in her column on Thursday, indicating the potential role he could play in 2020. If Pollock can indeed capture some of his old form, it will definitely go a long way in balancing out the team’s power attack. Still, the fact that two-thirds of the starting pitchers the Dodgers will face will be right-handers sets the team up to succeed (most of the time) on the offensive side of things.
I don’t expect any big moves between now and the beginning of spring training, although there might be a few additions to help solidify the fringe between Triple-A and the majors. There’s still a little money left over between the payroll budget and the Luxury Tax Threshold, but this is currency which might be put to good use should the team decide to upgrade at the summer trade deadline.
Nevertheless, Friedman has stunned followers of the team with some of his surprise moves in the past. For all we know, he might have a big splash up his sleeve that will be revealed over the next few weeks. We shall definitely see.