The Dodgers came within one game of a World Series title last season, and some fans still regard last season as a failure. The truth is, the Dodgers had one of the most remarkable seasons in history and much of their core remains for 2018. They’ve been quiet this offseason as they don’t have dire needs at any one spot. #Depth
What Happened Last Year?
The Dodgers limped out of the gate last season, starting 9-11. Then they called up Cody Bellinger. He would only go on to smash 39 home runs, drive in 97 runs, and earn a .933 OPS on his way to unanimous National League Rookie of the Year. Around him in the lineup, Justin Turner finished top 5 in the batting title race with a slash line of .322/.415/.530. He also hit 21 homers. Corey Seager hit 22 home runs while hitting .295. Chris Taylor enjoyed a breakout year at the top of the lineup, hitting 21 dongs and hitting .288. Yasiel Puig, finally healthy, smashed a career high 28 homers while maintaining his elite defense and Cuban flare.
Clayton Kershaw, who again missed time with a back injury, tossed 202 strikeouts, a 2.31 ERA, and 0.95 WHIP in only 175 innings. Alex Wood won his first 11 decisions en route to a 16-3 record. Rich Hill nearly threw a perfect game in Pittsburgh and lost in a season where his blister was never much of an issue. Kenley Jansen set a record for strikeouts to start a season without a walk (50) while co-leading the NL in saves with 41 along with a sparkling 1.32 ERA. Brandon Morrow emerged as a top reliever, achieving a 2.06 ERA and 50 punch outs in only 43.2 innings. All of these fantastic talents were tested at various points of the World Series where the Astros hitters and pitchers seemed to have the right answers at the right time. The Dodgers fell in Game 7 after a wild back-and-forth series.
Key Additions: Scott Alexander, LHP; Tom Koehler, RHP; Matt Kemp, OF
Key Losses: Brandon Morrow, RHP; Adrian Gonzalez, 1B; Brandon McCarthy, RHP; Yu Darvish, RHP; Tony Watson, LHP
The Dodgers made a splash early sending four pieces to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Matt Kemp in a salary-driven deal. Without a demand for Kemp, it seems the Dodgers are willing to give him a shot in Spring Training, despite rumors he would be released. Their only notable free agent signing has been hard throwing right hander Tom Koehler. I’ve heard multiple people, fans and analysts, suggest that he may be the 2018 version of Brandon Morrow. We’ll see about that. The Dodgers could do well to add another depth starter, though if Walker Bueheler works out, their won’t be much space for anybody. Yu Darvish’s decision to join the Cubs eliminates that possible option. The catching situation with Yasmani Grandal, Austin Barnes, and Kyle Farmer should be one to keep an eye on moving forward.
Prospect to Watch
Alex Verdugo, OF, AAA
The Dodgers have a wealth of prospects worth keeping an eye on, including Walker Bueheler, Keibert Ruiz, and Dennis Santana. Verdugo draws particular interest because of his position. With the addition and seeming re-commitment of Matt Kemp, along with the return of Andrew Toles, Verdugo’s potential role is not clearly defined. The Dodgers’ #2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Verdugo is a quality hitter with a plus arm in the outfield. He struggled in his stint as a September call-up, only going 4-23 (.174) with one RBI coming on a solo home run.