As a prelude to the beginning of spring camp, many media outlets have been featuring previews and predictions as to what may happen with the Dodgers during the next six weeks, offering up some bold forecasts on which big storylines might soon emerge.
To make this perspective even more interesting, I thought I would plunge into the regular season and share a few of my own predictions as to what might conceivably happen with the club’s roster. Of course, there will likely be a number of occurrences that nobody has even considered by the time the All-Star break rolls around, but it still never hurts to stretch the imagination every now and then.
Here are four somewhat surprising roster-related predictions surrounding the team during the upcoming 2020 season:
Alex Verdugo Remains a Dodger—Undoubtedly, the trade speculation between the Dodgers and outfielder Mookie Betts is currently at its peak, as some reporters close to the situation feel that a deal will happen at any moment. Consequently, most believe that outfielder Alex Verdugo will be the centerpiece of the package heading back to Boston. My prediction, though, is that Verdugo remains with the Dodgers throughout the year, garnering more than 400 AB while tallying a .300-plus batting average alongside double digits in doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases. Indeed, health will not be an issue.
Corey Seager Returns to All-Star Form—Subject to trade rumors of his own earlier in the season, it appears as if Corey Seager‘s standing with the club is safe, at least for the first part of the year. Last season, Seager racked up a 3.3 bWAR, slowly re-approaching the 4.6 mark he posted in 2017 and the 5.9 mark during his benchmark year back in 2016. My guess is that he’ll be playing with overwhelming enthusiasm as his free agency year starts to come into sight, tallying more than 40 doubles and 30 long balls in the heart of the lineup. He’ll be just one of a handful of starting players for the Dodgers when Los Angeles hosts the Mid-Summer Classic on July 14.
A Big Roster Shake-Up at Trade Deadline—I’m one of those folks who hasn’t seen the 2019-20 offseason as a big disappointment, especially if the Dodgers do not land Betts. That said, I see the 2020 summer trade deadline as an even bigger opportunity to improve the club’s roster. Primarily, it will allow the team to evaluate its personnel after having more than a half-season under its belt. Second, teams who may have not necessarily been sellers over the winter may emerge as dealers during the summer months when they haven’t lived up to their self-expectations in the win-loss column. I look for some big roster upgrades this summer, specifically in the starting rotation and relief crew.
Clayton Kershaw Proves He’s Worthy—There’s probably no other player on the team in recent years who has faced more scrutiny than Clayton Kershaw. While it’s certainly no major consolation, there may be minor relief in knowing that some of his playoff performances against the Astros and Red Sox may not have been as bad as the box scores indicated. Last year during the regular season, Kersh still had his fair share of critics after posting a 16-5 record and very respectable 3.03 ERA. My prediction is that he throws even better in 2020, while shrinking the number of home runs he allows to under 15. What’s more, skipper Dave Roberts won’t even think twice before naming Kershaw the team’s Opening Day starter on March 26 against the Giants.