The National League West went through an arms race over the offseason, with division rivals Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants all focusing on starting pitching.
Zack Greinke was long believed to be the apple of the Dodgers’ and Giants’ eye, only for the Diamondbacks to swoop in at the 11th hour with a six-year, $206.5 million offer that landed Greinke in the desert.
Arizona soon after emptied their farm system to acquire Shelby Miller in a trade with the Atlanta Braves.
Meanwhile, San Francisco set their sights on Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, both of whom at the time of signing were among the marquee names still available.
The Dodgers took a more methodical approach — passing on a bonafide ace in favor of signing Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda to improve the overall depth in their starting rotation.
While some now view the Dodgers as the third-best team in the NL West, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale isn’t writing off the three-time defending division champions, via ESPN’s Doug Padilla:
“One of the things we talk about are the expectations, and everybody wants to know what you think,” Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. “The expectation for us is that our division is going to be really good. The Giants have really loaded, they’re really good, and the Dodgers are excellent. They might have lost Zack, but they have a lot of depth, good hitters, bullpen arms and depth in their system.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy also spoke highly of the Dodgers, noting their talent currently on the roster and in the organization:
“They have so much talent there and it’s not one guy that helps you win a division,” Bochy told ESPN.com at an annual spring gathering of Cactus League managers and general managers. “They’re going to be there, everyone knows it, and we know how strong they are. Their pitching is still strong, they have young players coming and they will be a team to contend with.”
Hale is entering his second season as Diamondbacks manager. He guided the club to a 79-83 record last season, which was good for third in the NL West. Arizona recently extended Hale’s contract through at least the 2017 season.
The Diamondbacks have won the NL West five times in their 18 seasons of existence, last sitting atop the division in 2011. The Giants most recently won the NL West in 2010 and 2012, which overlaps with their World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
First-year manager Dave Roberts inherits a Dodgers club that’s won three consecutive division titles for the first time in franchise history. Additionally, Los Angeles has won at least 90 games in each of the past three seasons for the first time since 1976-78.
However, the Dodgers advanced beyond the NL Division Series only once in the three seasons they won the NL West.