Early Thursday morning, the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly agreed to a six-year, $162M contract with first baseman Freddie Freeman, causing Dodger fans to rejoice and the rest of baseball world groan and/or marvel at the stacked roster the Dodgers have.
Indeed, the starting lineup is All-Stars top to bottom, with the exception of catcher Will Smith, who will very soon be one. Three former MVPs in their lineup, and another on the mound in Clayton Kershaw. What more could the Dodgers possibly need on their quest to get a second World Series win in three years?
While the Dodgers are indeed close to having an all time great team, there are still holes to be filled.
The starting rotation is the next place that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman should be working on. As it stands right now, the starting rotation should be Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, Kershaw, and Andrew Heaney. The fifth spot is up for competition. Tony Gonsolin could be that guy, or there are rumors of David Price working himself back up to be a starter. Andre Jackson showed promise last season, and could make a jump to more time in the majors. Mitch White also had some starts last season to varying success.
But after the first three slots there are a lot of questions. Heaney was 8-9 in 2021 with a 5.89ERA. Gonsolin, Price, Jackson and White haven’t made it through a full season yet (or in a long time in the case of Price). While Kershaw says he’s healthy, it’s a long season. And on Thursday afternoon, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to extend Trevor Bauer’s leave for nearly a month, until April 16. Another starter would go a long way to shoring up this rotation.
The bullpen also could use another pitcher, although that need is not the most dire at this moment. Who the closer will be is not known, and manager Dave Roberts has said he intends to use Blake Treinen in the most high leverage situation, and not necessarily the ninth inning. As such, he plans to take a closer by committee approach.
One thing the Freeman signing did help shore up some is the bench. Max Muncy will move to second base for most starts, where he feels more comfortable than at first base. That moves Gavin Lux into more of a utility roll, and a bat off the bench. Roberts has said that Lux will see time in left field in spring training games, allowing him to have more time to learn the position while not in an actual game.
The bench will now consist of Lux, Edwin Rios, Matt Beaty, and Zach McKinstry, along with whatever position player happens to have the day off. Utility man Hanser Alberto, while not on the 40-man roster yet as he is awaiting his physical, is also expected to contribute. While they could still use another bat off the bench, it’s still better than a lot of bench players on other teams.
No team is ever perfect, and we know injuries will rear their ugly heads at some point this season. But if the Dodgers can acquire another mid-to-top rotation guy, this team might be about as perfect as a team can get. The quest to get Kershaw another ring starts now.