Building a big-league team for sustained success is very hard, as evidenced by the fact that the Dodgers’ current 10-year postseason streak is the third-longest in baseball history. To make the postseason that many years in a row — with no end in sight to the streak — you have to be good at all the different ways of building a team.
Obviously, L.A. has a lot of money, which comes in handy when signing a free agent like Freddie Freeman or trading for and then extending a generational superstar like Mookie Betts. The money is also useful it taking on a bad contract to reduce the prospect capital in a trade, as when Los Angeles took on David Price and half of his contract to make the Betts trade possible.
But the Dodgers aren’t perennial contenders solely because of their money. The 2020 World Series championship team was led by Betts, but also by homegrown talents like Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Will Smith, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Julio Urias, Dustin May, and Kenley Jansen, along with garbage bin pickups like Justin Turner, Max Muncy, and Chris Taylor and players acquired as minor leaguers like Kiké Hernandez and Austin Barnes.
The Dodgers draft well, they develop well, they trade well, and the do well in free agency. General manager Brandon Gomes was on MLB Network last week and he talked about walking the fine line to remain effective in all the different facets of winning.
“It’s a huge part of sustaining success over a long period of time. We’re fortunate enough to have a great ownership group that allows us to go out and play in the free agency market. But in order to sustain the success, we have to continue to bring up those young guys that have been drafted or traded for.
“I think, unfortunately, things tend to play out, play themselves out, with injuries or different things, guys getting banged up and we’re able to get somebody a few at-bats here and there. So, in general, we’ll target a few guys looking to see, okay this is a good time to get them more playing time, and other guys, hey we’ll target something along the lines of, if there’s an injury this is our first layer of depth.”
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 6, 2022
The Dodgers are at a stage where they need to let some of their youngsters play, just as they did with Pederson and Seager and Bellinger and Buehler years ago. There’s risk there, but it’s essential to remaining in a position to be competitive each and every year.
As Dodger fans, I hope we realize how great it is that our “frustrating” offseason is that the Dodgers might only spend $230 million on their team in 2023. The Astros and Cubs had to completely tear down their teams and endure years of terrible teams to get their World Series titles in 2016 and 2017. Other teams are in perpetual teardown cycles without ever getting to the top. For the Dodgers, it’s occasionally cutting payroll a little bit to get below the luxury tax for a year. Most fans would kill for that.
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