The Dodgers have been lurking around the top of the baseball kingdom for the past seven years. They almost tasted all the glory. They’ve been so close, whether it was one broken Hanley Ramirez rib in 2013 or the bang of a trash can, followed by a charging whistle, in 2017.
Last season, the team had the best regular-season, franchise record, winning 106 games, but then came former Dodger Howie Kendrick’s grand slam in a win-or-go-home game in the Division Series against the Nationals. Once again, the Dodgers came up short.
Discussions all offseason surrounded whether manager Dave Roberts went to the right man out of the bullpen in that NLDS Game 5. Many called for the unseating of Roberts, but here we are again with the winningest manager, percentage-wise, since the team moved to Los Angeles.
Over the winter, the Dodgers went for all the marbles, acquiring former AL MVP Mookie Betts and former CY Young winner David Price, the latter who opted out of the shortened 2020 season amid health concerns. Dodger fans were worried that Betts would walk in free agency and never put on a Dodger uniform amid the lengthy battle between the owners and players association. Even though the 2020 season is a shortened one, a World Series trophy is still a World Series trophy, as the blood, sweat, and tears are all there to gain that ring.
After 2020, the Dodgers might be looking very different. They have 13 free agents, including fan favorites like Joc Pederson, Justin Turner, and Enrique Hernandez. Among those 13 is also the highly-coveted Betts.
Others include Pedro Baez, who’s been with the Dodgers since 2014, and Alex Wood, a former All-Star who’s back with the Dodgers for his second stint. The making of this team comes at an opportune time to capitalize with young flame-throwing right-hander in Walker Buehler, a hall of fame pitcher in Clayton Kershaw and a reigning 25-year-old MVP in Cody Bellinger at the forefront.
The Dodgers have certainly made the right moves to be in contention over the past several years, but still missed from the trophy cabinet is the elusive ring. A championship would certainly elevate Kershaw’s Hall of Fame chances even more and be the final puzzle piece. Players like Kenley Jansen, Pederson and Turner, who have been some of the longer-tenured Dodgers, would love to earn a ring for all their efforts.
Kershaw is now 32 years old and the talk of his career in recent years has been his ability to perform in the postseason. The Dodgers have had a run like no other winning seven consecutive division titles, and they find themselves as favorites to take that title once again. The Dodgers, alongside the Yankees, come in as the early favorites to win the 2020 World Series—two historic teams with deep pockets in the biggest markets.
Part of the reason why the Dodgers have been able to stay in contention is the team’s farm system. The ability of executive management, led by Andrew Friedman, to draft players who end up being coveted prospects is admired by rival front offices across baseball. This builds the Dodgers’ depth, while also giving them the flexibility to trade for superstar players. With designated hitter rule being invoked for the 2020 season, it gives the Dodgers another bat in a lineup full of mashing hitters.
The Dodgers payroll for the 2020 season is $227 million, and the team has a good amount of veterans mixed in with young talent. This year seems like the perfect fit for a championship, once the unorthodox 2020 campaign ends. Theoretically, the team might look completely different next year regarding player personnel.
While the Dodgers have proven their farm system is one of the best in baseball, fans are tired of waiting for players “to come of age.”
If the team does indeed make some postseason magic with the stands empty at Chavez Ravine this year, the fans will party like no other.