Spring Training is still several weeks away and Opening Day of the 2020 MLB season is beyond that, but with a flurry of free agency activity in the past, it warrants a look ahead at the Los Angeles Dodgers roster.
Plenty of time remains for potential changes during the offseason, but as it currently stands, there is reason for optimism next season. Largely because of the depth the Dodgers are returning throughout their roster.
While yes, signing an elite talent such as Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon would have further improved the team, the Dodgers are still in a strong position as is.
Retired: David Freese
Free Agents: Russell Martin, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jedd Gyorko (team option declined)
Pretty fascinating set of decisions to make here. Martin was fine this past season and came up big in the playoffs, but the decision the Dodgers make here has more to do with what they think of Austin Barnes than anything else.
Decisions looming on Hill and Ryu are fascinating. Both seemed really comfortable in L.A., but the Dodgers’ level of interest in Ryu wasn’t clear and he’s gone on to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hill remains a free agent and has expressed a desire to return.
If the Dodgers elect to pass on all their free agents and stick to players they still have under team control (even if that means arbitration), here’s what the position groups look like (* denotes arbitration eligible):
Starting pitchers: Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, Caleb Ferguson, Dennis Santana
Even without Hill and Ryu, the Dodgers have the makings of a really strong rotation. Buehler is an absolute ace, while the likes of May (22) and Urias (23) still have plenty of time to develop into the front-line pitchers many thought they might become.
Kershaw — despite postseason struggles — was really good this year (albeit not “great” as many have become accustomed to). Gonsolin was strong in his first MLB audition, and Maeda remains one of the team’s most consistent starters in recent memory. Ferguson and Santana offer nice depth in case of emergency.
Relief pitchers: Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez*, Joe Kelly, Yimi Garcia*, Ross Stripling*, Scott Alexander*, Dylan Floro, Adam Kolarek, JT Chargois, Casey Sadler, Josh Sborz, Blake Treinen
This group remains pretty much the same as last year, with the same overall outlook: solid depth, but lacking high-end arms. Jansen isn’t going to improve dramatically, and Kelly remains an undesirable rollercoaster.
Baez is a solid bridge guy, but unless the Dodgers can find a dominant arm or too, this group will always remain disappointing to most fans. The signing of Treinen could dramatically swing things.
Garcia, who was non-tendered, went on to sign with the Miami Marlins.
Catchers: Will Smith, Austin Barnes
As mentioned above, it will be fascinating to see what the front office does with Barnes — who has now put together more underwhelming seasons than positive ones. With so much catching depth amongst high-end prospects, re-signing Martin might be the best option short-term.
Furthermore, Barnes reportedly was the subject of trade interest from the Houston Astros.
Infielders: Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Max Muncy*, Gavin Lux, Tyler White, Edwin Rios, Kristopher Negron, Kiké Hernandez*, Matt Beaty
Obviously it’s tough to figure out what to do with Cody Bellinger, Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Matt Beaty, etc. as far as their positions go, but we’ll stick with this list.
As it stands, the 2020 starting infield is Turner, Seager, Lux and Muncy — which is pretty freaking good. Add in the depth of Hernandez, Beaty and Rios and this is a really strong group.
However, at some point the Dodgers would be better off trading some of their depth to create established roles — but who knows if this is the offseason that happens.
Outfielders: Cody Bellinger*, Joc Pederson*, A.J. Pollock, Chris Taylor*, Alex Verdugo, Kyle Garlick, Andrew Toles
Again: pretty strong group, especially when you consider the versatility of some of the players who also are listed as infielders. Obviously, Pollock ended the year on a down note, but he’ll be as motivated as ever to bounce-back next season to the level the Dodgers paid him to perform at.
For Pederson, the questions about whether this is the winter he gets moved will swirl, but he seems to have found himself an important role here. Verdugo should take another step forward next season as he competes for an everyday role on this team.
If you’re reading this you probably already knew it, but even without any big splashes this offseason, the Dodgers will likely be the National League Favorites again in 2020.
Their strength remains their depth, but if the young talent of Verdugo, Smith, Lux, May and Gonsolin can take another step forward next season, they could have the star power to match everyone else as well.
All that said, this is unlikely to be the group that takes the field on Opening Day — with trades seeming more and more likely.
With manager Dave Roberts back at the helm, the Dodgers will need to find the motivation to grind through another long season in hopes of achieving the goal of winning their first World Series in what will be 32 years.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our live shows, and more!