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Even With Critical Offseason Decisions Looming, The Los Angeles Dodgers Are An Elite Team

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 25, 2021

A few things you may have heard over the weekend: The Los Angeles Dodgers, arguably MLB’s best regular season team, are done, knocked out of the NLCS. Also, the team’s chokehold on the NL West has been severely loosened. And finally, the Dodgers have some impactful offseason decisions to make, further weakening their standing as the best team in the league.

The proper response to those statements is something along the lines of, “Yeah, but…”

Once the Atlanta Braves dispatched the Dodgers on Saturday, the takes flew about how their run as the best team in their division and National League had finally come to an end. The foundation of that hotness is the Dodgers have some critical pieces – some of them part of the nucleus – entering free agency, and even the ultra-rich can’t afford to bring back all of them for 2022.

That argument also makes assumptions, some of them grand. The first being that the San Francisco Giants, the team that ended Los Angeles’ eight-year run atop the West, will again be able to win upward of 100 games after ripping off a stunning 107 in 2021. The belief ignores the fact that the Giants also have significant free-agent decisions to make – mainly on the pitching side – and that some old veterans made unexpected contributions that will be difficult to repeat.

The Dodgers and Giants both lost a lot to injuries, too. But assuming some better health next year, the Dodgers are currently in the better position to win the division. 

That’s because the players still under team control and contracts are enough to make the Dodgers the favorites to win a ninth division title in the last 10 years. After a strong playoff performance, expect Cody Bellinger to return to some better form of the 2019 MVP. Gavin Lux also moved his progression forward, and Trea Turner won the NL batting title and hit 28 home runs. Then there’s Mookie Betts, Will Smith and Max Muncy all anchoring that lineup. Oh, and Walker Buehler and Julio Urias – both are arms who will get Cy Young votes – holding down the rotation.

Those are the makings of a team that could, and maybe even should, win the division.

But those free-agent decisions mentioned before are important. Losing the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor and Kenley Jansen would hurt. A lot. Together, their deals could total half a billion dollars.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, they can expect to bring back some of those names. Kershaw may be willing to take an incentive-laden one-year deal. The team should make a real run at Seager, who seems willing to move off of shortstop if the situation makes sense for him to do so. 

Taylor and Scherzer might get better offers elsewhere, although the Scherzer decision likely depends on what happens with Trevor Bauer and his 2022 salary. And as for Jansen, he’s said he wants to retire a Dodger, so maybe he wants another World Series run with the only franchise he’s ever known. And the Dodgers may welcome him back now that he’s one of baseball’s elite relievers again.

Plus, president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman usually makes a surprise run at someone impactful – think Betts, Bauer, Scherzer and Trea Turner. The Giants will also make their runs – think Scherzer – making this all the more interesting. 

While the Dodgers’ season didn’t end with a repeat World Series championship, they are still the best team in the National League as things stand, even with all their impending decisions.


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