With Spring Training and Opening Day seemingly around the corner, the intrigue that lies within the National League West will at last be settled on the field.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants were some of the most active teams in free agency, and now the three-time defending NL West champion Dodgers are no longer considered by many as the frontrunner to win the division this season.
While it came at the expense of their farm system, Arizona added a complement to their signing of Zack Greinke by trading for young righty Shelby Miller.
Most recently, the Diamondbacks completed a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop Jean Segura.
The Giants bolstered their starting rotation by signing Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. San Francisco also signed veteran center fielder Denard Span.
Despite the additions both clubs made, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is far from ready to concede defeat solely based on offseason transactions. “Well, last year we were talking about the Padres being so good,” Gonzalez said at the Dodgers fourth annual Fanfest on Saturday.
“You’re obviously going to have teams that these so-called experts are going to be saying that they’re the team to beat, or they improved, or this or that. But at the end of the day we know that we’re a team thats going to be right in the middle of the pennant race come September.”
Gonzalez went on to praise the Dodgers’ improved depth throughout the roster. “I think we have probably the deepest team in baseball,” he said.
“We’ll be able to afford basically any injury, which a lot of teams can’t say.” Los Angeles found themselves in a bind last season as Hyun-Jin Ryu missed the entire season, and Brandon McCarthy made just four starts before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The Dodgers replaced Greinke by signing Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda, giving the club a minimum of six viable starting pitchers with Major League experience. Howie Kendrick’s expected re-signing also gives the Dodgers a surplus of infielders.
Moreover, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated Kendrick may receive time at third base. How the roster pieces eventually fit together, Roberts said, will be determined in Spring Training.