With Spring Training camps opening and Cactus League play less than two weeks away, the Los Angeles Dodgers will soon begin their quest to ending a 30-year World Series drought.
As it currently stands, the vast majority of last season’s roster will be on hand at Camelback Ranch for full-team workouts. But while the Dodgers have largely stood pat this offseason, the rest of the division has made plenty of moves to challenge the reigning National League West champions.
“The division is considerably better,” manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s something we don’t take for granted. I think people maybe think it’s easy to win the division. I thought it was the best division last year in baseball, and I think this year is going to the same thing.
“Arizona, Colorado and San Francisco got considerably better. The Padres have as much young talent as anybody in baseball. We’re going to have our hands full.”
As Roberts notes, the NL West — at least on paper — has vastly improved since the start of the offseason. And that’s especially impressive, considering three teams represented the division during the 2017 postseason.
The Arizona Diamondbacks added catcher Alex Avila to the fold, while additionally signing Japanese reliever Yoshihisa Hirano to fortify their bullpen.
The Colorado Rockies primarily focused on improving its relief corps, retaining southpaw Jake McGee while also inking former Cleveland Indians setup man Bryan Shaw and former Chicago Cubs closer Wade Davis to lucrative contracts.
The San Francisco Giants, after a dreadful 2017 campaign, have their eyes set on returning to the playoffs. To help achieve this goal, they acquired a pair of All-Stars in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen to revamp their starting lineup.
And though the San Diego Padres remain in the midst of a rebuild, they have stockpiled a plethora of young talent in recent years through the draft and trades. What’s more, they figure to still be in the running to sign free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer, who would further accelerate their timeline if added.
After reaching the World Series last season, Roberts is appreciative of the experience, but is also mindful of not letting the past carry over into the new year.
“The challenge is to not forget that feeling, but to not have it carry over as far as the ’17 season,” he stated. “It is an entirely different season. I think for us, it’s understanding where we were at, the feeling of losing Game 7, but what we have to look forward to.”