After the sports world was captivated by ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” a 10-episode series on Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls, some began raising the question of whether or not the 2020 season represented a final hurrah of sorts for the current iteration of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I’m not going to lie, there’s been a comment here and there,” Kiké Hernandez said last July. “Nothing in this life is guaranteed and right now the only thing we have guaranteed right now is this season that’s ahead of us.
“I think all of us feel though free agency can be at the back of our minds or whatever, it can creep into your thoughts here and there.
“But I think we’re all very focused in what we want to accomplish this year and what the goal for us as a unit is. I think we’re all looking forward to this year and not thinking really about next year because it’s going to be a short season, it’s going be a very different season.
“So we just want to make the best of it and find a way to make this season seem as normal as possible.”
Hernandez was in the final year of salary arbitration at the time of his comments, and so too were Pedro Baez and Joc Pederson. Kenley Jansen held a player option for 2021, and Mookie Betts, Justin Turner and Alex Wood were due to become free agents.
Of course, Betts signed a record-setting contract extension on the eve of Opening Day, Jansen did not opt out of the final year on his deal, and Turner was ultimately re-signed.
Baez, Hernandez and Pederson did leave the organization, but the Dodgers staved off a proverbial final run with their core roster.
The moment now appears to have arrived one year later, however, with the likes of Kershaw, Jansen, Corey Seager and Chris Taylor among those to reach free agency. Odds are against the Dodgers re-signing each of the aforementioned players, or other free agents such as Joe Kelly and Max Scherzer
Jansen was the Dodger who arguably enjoyed “The Last Dance” the most, but he stopped short of connecting it to the team.
“I’m not there yet, to be honest with you,” Jansen said during the National League Division Series. “All I think is win one game and try to win another championship here in Los Angeles. So that’s where the mindset is right now, and like you say, those times and moments will come when it needs to come.”
After the Dodgers were eliminated in the NL Championship Series, Jansen reflected fondly on his time in the organization and suggested he preferred re-signing to joining a new team
Roberts worried about free agency for Dodgers
With several members from the Dodgers’ core group on the open market this winter, manager Dave Roberts admitted to having some apprehension, if not concern.
“A lot’s going to be happening this winter,” he said last month. “I think part of the great thing about players and service time is you get a chance to choose where you want to play and earn what you want to earn.
“So we have some guys that are free agents and we all know who they are. So potentially to not see those guys back, it’s sort of a changing of the guard. If they’re not back, whoever is not back, I’m certainly going to miss them personally and our team’s going to miss them.
“The six years that I’ve been here it’s been a core group of guys that potentially could be turned over this winter. I’m not looking forward to it. I’m not looking forward to it.”
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