Regardless of whether or not the Chicago Cubs manage to dig themselves out of a significant hole against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, the National League champions figure to remain a formidable team for years to come.
The Cubs stand as the biggest obstacle between the Los Angeles Dodgers and their first trip to the Fall Classic since 1988. Chicago’s nucleus is comprised of a bevy of players under 27 years old.
They naturally serve a benchmark of sorts for other NL clubs. But that’s not on the mind of Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
“Our focus is on being as good as we can be and balancing the now with the future,” he recently said.
“We’re pretty focused on ourselves and improving areas we feel are not as strong as we want them to be, and just creating as well-rounded and balanced of a team as we can.”
Friedman has juggled a win-now mentality and effort with planning for seasons ahead since he joined the Dodgers organization. It’s a vision Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten has emphatically defended.
Friedman has worked to trim the club’s payroll while revitalizing a farm system that once produced five consecutive NL Rookie of the Year winners. With Joc Pederson and Corey Seager now cemented in the Majors, the Dodgers have the likes of Cody Bellinger, Jose De Leon and Julio Urias knocking on the door.
Los Angeles became the first team in NL West history to win the division title in four straight seasons. The Dodgers have won at least 90 games each year during that span. They reached the NL Championship Series under rookie manager Dave Roberts for the first time since 2013.
“I think we’re right there in the mix. It’s about making us as good as we possibly can be,” Roberts said. “I think if we do that, we can match up with anyone. [Cubs] a good club, but there are some other good clubs, too.”