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The Dodgers watched the Padres and Diamondbacks each make a half-dozen improvements this offseason, burning money and talent to take shots at the division title. Then, with camps about to open, they big-footed both NL West clubs by acquiring the second-best player in baseball–without touching the top of their roster or their farm system. It’s good to be the kings.
Adding superstar Mookie Betts, 27, formerly of the Red Sox, to MLB’s deepest roster gives Los Angeles a third MVP to go with 24-year-old Cody Bellinger and lefthander Clayton Kershaw. Five of the eight projected everyday players have had at least one five-win season in the last three years. Two others, catcher Will Smith and infielder Gavin Lux, have yet to play a full season. A.J. Pollock, who signed a four-year, $55 million deal before the 2019 season, is the fourth outfielder behind Betts, Bellinger and Joc Pederson, now a potential trade chip. Even with all that talent in the majors, the Dodgers still have seven of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, second only to the Rays.
Yes, you can certainly pick at the edges. Supplanting Kershaw as L.A.’s ace, righty Walker Buehler (3.26 ERA, 1.042 WHIP) fronts a rotation filled with questions after two starters left in free agency (Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu) and a third via trade (Kenta Maeda). The bullpen, always a source of concern, could get a huge boost if Blake Treinen, signed from Oakland to a one-year, $10 million deal, finds the form that made him the game’s best closer in 2018. But if pitching problems persist this summer, GM Andrew Friedman will merely enter the trade market and exit with, say, the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard.
Despite their almost annual status as the NL favorite, the Dodgers still haven’t won a title since 1988. All L.A. can do is what it has done: build the best team in baseball. — Joe Sheehan
Projected Record: 107-55, 1st in NL West
Adding Mookie Betts alone makes the Dodgers better—and they won 106 games last year. Still, L.A. may need a midseason trade or two to end its 31-year title drought.
Key Question: Will the Dodgers Have an All-Time Season?
To set a club record for wins, Los Angeles needs one more win than it had last year, when it set the franchise's high-water mark with 106 regular season victories. — Matt Martell
Moving Up: Julio Urías, SP
Still just 23, the Mexican lefthander with the stuff to be a No. 2 starter should finally stick in the rotation after a solid 2019 (9.6 K/9, 1.079 WHIP).
Moving Down: David Price, SP
L.A. took Price and half his contract to make the Mookie Betts deal happen. The lefty lost 1.7 mph off his fastball in the last two years.
Watchability Ranking: Please Watch
The Dodgers are so deep, so balanced, so damn good that they almost break the idea of watchability. They’re the best team in baseball. If disaster strikes, well, just look at that bench and that farm system. For most of the season, the stock reason to want to watch anything—to find out what comes next—is rendered useless, because, really, don’t we all know what comes next? But perhaps that’s its own form of watchability. (And, also, if you haven’t heard, they now have Mookie Betts. Quite a watchable guy.) — Emma Baccellieri
Preview of the 2030 Preview
Gavin Lux, SS: Is anyone better suited to shine in Hollywood than someone whose last name is Latin for light? Lux assumed the mantle of Next Big Thing in L.A. as a second baseman in 2019, then took over shortstop from the previous Next Big Thing (Corey Seager) in ’22. He enters his age-32 season with six Silver Sluggers and three top-five MVP finishes, on the precipice of eclipsing Maury Wills as the Dodgers’ all-time WAR leader at short since the club moved from Brooklyn. — Craig Goldstein