After losing back to back World Series, it comes as no surprise that the Dodgers intend to be agressive. They’ve been linked to everyone. On the trade market, they have interest in JT Realmuto and Corey Kluber, while they’ve also expressed some interest in Bryce Harper. Whatever they do, Los Angeles will come in as the favorite to come out of the NL once again.
Current State: World Series Contender
Dodgers Extend Manager Dave Roberts
The Dodgers have extended manager Dave Roberts on a four year deal that will run through 2022. Roberts, 46, has an impressive 287-200 record in three seasons with the Dodgers, and has won three straight division titles. He’s also guided the Dodgers to a national league pennant in each of the last two seasons, and helped them reach the playoffs this season despite having just a 19.6% chance of making the playoffs on May 16, according to Baseball Prospectus. He also has a reputation for being a terrific manager on the clubhouse, while his success as a manager on the field is undisputed at this point. After losing the World Series for the second straight season, many Dodger fans wanted him fired. However, the Dodgers front office clearly sees the success he’s had as their manager, and there’s no reason to make a change.
Dodgers Sign RP Joe Kelly
In search for an effective set up man to Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers have signed reliever Joe Kelly to a three year, $25 million deal. Kelly, 30, had an uneven season last year. He had just a 4.39 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and a 3.57 FIP in the regular season, but the postseason was a completely different story. He gave up just one earned run in 11.1 innings, and threw 6 shutout frames in the World Series against these same Dodgers. With Kelly, the intrigue is all in his stuff, as his two pitch mix with his fastball and breaking ball can be deadly at times. However, he’s constantly struggled with his command, as he’s posted a BB/9 above 4 in each of the last three seasons. He’s also never posted a FIP below 3.49 in his career, so he doesn’t have a track record of being a reliable reliever like other available options. The Dodgers clearly feel that Kelly’s postseason success was not a fluke. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have a career year for them, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him continue to have an ERA around 4.00. That’s why it’s a little confusing a World Series contender like the Dodgers in deep need for a set up man wouldn’t go after a more consistent reliever, especially with a saturated reliever market.
Dodgers Acquire SP Homer Bailey, SS Jeter Downs, RHP Josiah Gray in Exchange For OF Yasiel Puig, OF Matt Kemp, SP Alex Wood, and C Kyle Farmer
In a blockbuster with the Reds, the Dodgers have acquired starting pitcher Homer Bailey, shortstop prospect Jeter Downs, and pitching prospect Josiah Gray in exchange for outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, starting pitcher Alex Wood, and catcher Kyle Farmer. Bailey, 32, was released right after the trade, but the Dodgers are still eating his $23 million salary. Salary is the main factor in this trade, as Los Angeles is saving at least $7 million. However, in Downs and Gray, the Dodgers are receiving two legitimate prospects. Downs, 20, comes in as the Dodgers’ 7th ranked prospect, according to MLB.Com. He had a .753 OPS in Single-A last year, and profiles as an all around player whether at short, second base, or center field. Gray, 21, is now the Dodgers’ 16th ranked prospect, and posted a 2.58 ERA in Rookie Ball. He has a terrific two pitch mix with his mid 90s fastball and his nasty slider, so he could turn out to be a terrific reliever if he fails to establish a third pitch and can’t remain a starting pitcher. Either way, both of these prospects are high quality ones who could impact the team by 2021, or can be used as extra ammunition in their pursuit for Corey Kluber and JT Realmuto. All the Dodgers gave up were two disgruntled outfielders with high salary, a backup catcher, and a starting pitcher that may have not made their rotation. They save salary and gain prospects, while clearing the way for playing time for some of their young outfielders, so this is a terrific trade all around for the Dodgers.
Dodgers Sign OF AJ Pollock
In a rather interesting move, the Dodgers have signed center fielder AJ Pollock to a four year deal worth $55 million. There is an opt out after the third season if Pollock accumulates enough plate appearances, and an option in the fifth year that bring the deal to five years, $60 million. Pollock, 31, was one of the most polarizing free agents this offseason. When healthy, he’s one of the best center fielders with a career .805 OPS and a 7.2 WAR in 2015. However, he’s had a hard time staying healthy the past three seasons, only playing in 237 games in that span. In 113 games last season, he posted a .800 OPS with a career high 21 home runs and a 2.5 WAR. Pollock is also one of the league’s best defensive outfielders, and he continued to be outstanding in 2018 with 6 defensive runs saved. After trading Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds, a move to upgrade the outfield was expected. While most Dodger fans likely wanted and expected Bryce Harper, Pollock may be a better fit. For starters, he helps balance out a lineup that is extremely lefty heavy with Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Joc Pederson all regulars in the lineups. Pollock improves Los Angeles’ ability to hit left-handed pitching by balancing out the lineup, and also gives the Dodgers another everyday regular they can rely on instead of having to use platoons. They also have enough depth in the outfield to allow Pollock to stay fresh and healthy, which also gives them an insurance plan in case his injury issues continue. Plus, Los Angeles now has all three spots filled in the outfield, which frees them to be able to use outfield prospect Alex Verdugo in a package for an impact player such as JT Realmuto and Corey Kluber. There’s no doubt that Pollock is a terrific player worth well more than $12 million per season when healthy. Considering that most of his injuries have been freak injuries, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he indeed stays healthy and completely outplays this contract as a result, though giving four years to a 31-year-old center fielder is always a risk.
Dodgers Acquire C Russell Martin In Exchange For SS Ronny Brito and RHP Andrew Sopko
The Dodgers have brought back catcher Russell Martin, acquiring him from the Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop prospect Ronny Brito and minor league pitcher Andrew Sopko. Toronto will also cover $16.4 million of the remaining $20 million of this contract. Martin, 35, comes back to Los Angeles for a second stint after serving as their primary catcher from 2006-2010, making two All Star games in that span. He’s coming off a rough season with the Blue Jays, as he had an OPS of just .663. Martin has been below average offensively for years now, so all of his value comes defensively. Martin’s fielding runs above average (FRAA) ranked 16th amongst catchers last season, according to Baseball Prospectus. That defense makes him a solid contributor to any team, but the Dodgers are a weird fit. Los Angeles already has a defensive-first catcher in Austin Barnes, who had ten defensive runs saved last season. Neither Martin nor Barnes is starting caliber, so unless they plan on carrying three catchers, which is a waste of a roster spot, this is a pointless acquisition. If this is the Dodgers’ answer behind the plate, then this is disappointing to say the least.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Dodgers Make