Normally, over the winter months, there’s somewhat of a general timeline in the MLB as far as blockbuster trades and big-name free agent signings go.
Obviously, fans get a good idea as to which players are hitting the free-agent market after the conclusion of the World Series. Consequently, many MLB executives start the groundwork of productive conversations at the General Managers Meetings, which usually take place in the middle of November. After that, the action starts to happen at the Winter Meetings, perennially held during the first week in December, almost always at a very warm and pleasant venue.
From there on out, the hot stove becomes a free for all as teams jockey to put the finishing touches on their respective rosters.
However, as we are all clearly aware, 2020 is a completely different animal. COVID-19 is already impacting the offseason, as the league announced in late October the cancellation of both the GM and Winter Meetings. In their places there will be virtual teleconferences held, but it just won’t be the same as the traditional face-to-face affairs that are seemingly much more productive.
What’s more, as most clubs operated well below profit margins during the shortened season this year, there might not be much money to spend on players as new team budgets come to light over the winter.
Despite all that, the Dodgers are still being mentioned in some of the biggest rumors surrounding some of the biggest players, like infielder Francisco Lindor of the Indians and free-agent righty pitcher Trevor Bauer.
Of course, while front-office boss Andrew Friedman never leaves a stone unturned, the chances of either one of the aforementioned duo ending up with the Dodgers are very slim, just like any other high-impact, marquee player.
Certainly, the entire city of Los Angeles would welcome back third baseman Justin Turner with open arms, but there’s a good possibility that both sides never see eye to eye, particularly if Friedman and his crew are stingy on their offers regarding contract length.
Still, there are plenty of options for the infield even if Turner or super-utility man Enrique Hernandez end up somewhere else, specifically in the forms of reigning World Series MVP Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, Edwin Rios, Gavin Lux and the newly emerging jack of all trades, Zach McKinstry.
On the pitching front, the Dodgers have a well that’s eternally untapped. Fans already had a brief glimpse of what Mitch White can do. Plus, there’s a young righty named Josiah Gray who recently took over the top spot of the farm’s prospect rankings. Undoubtedly, Gray will see at least some big-league action in 2021.
Understandably, there will be a few minor moves made, especially when it comes to building the bullpen; but it wouldn’t be surprising at all if names like Victor Gonzalez and Brusdar Graterol emerge early as legitimate replacements for players like Blake Treinen and Pedro Baez, even if the coaching staff decides to keep Julio Urias in the starting rotation.
And, there’s always our site’s favorite reliever, Marshall Kasowski, who should be in the big league relief picture at some point of the year.
One thing that (hopefully) will be different in 2021 is the presence of a normal trade deadline, which will give Friedman the chance to upgrade based on his club’s first-half performance.
Until then, it’s not unreasonable to think there will not be any big splashes—especially for a team with many of the same pieces that were so dominant in 2020.