The Dodgers have had a slow offseason. Some of that is likely by choice, as they’ve never really been a team to get involved in crazy bidding wars, and this year’s free-agent market has been pretty ridiculous. Some of it was also forced on them by uncertainty about the Trevor Bauer situation — if Bauer’s suspension had been overturned, Los Angeles would have owed him back pay and likely also additional luxury tax for 2022.
Whatever the reasons, LA hasn’t really jumped into the free-agent market this offseason, with their biggest acquisitions being one-year deals for Noah Syndergaard and JD Martinez. After winning 111 games last season, Los Angeles has definitely taken at least a small step back for 2023, with Trea Turner leaving for Philadelphia, Justin Turner heading to Boston, Tyler Anderson signing with the Angels, and Andrew Heaney joining the Rangers. On the other hand, the Dodgers also lost closer Craig Kimbrel and center-fielder Cody Bellinger, and both of their replacements figure to perform better than they did.
Max Muncy talked with Dodgers Nation recently, and he was asked if this LA team, despite the slow offseason, has what it takes to win the World Series in 2023.
“Absolutely. There’s no question about it. We’re still the Dodgers. I know that we haven’t been making the $300 million moves this offseason. But you guys got to trust Andrew [Friedman]. He’s the best in the business at this. Those guys are putting together what they think is going to be a special team, and I know is going to be a special team.
“We have all the pieces that we need. Anyone that gets added from this point on is just going to be icing on the cake for us. We have all the big pieces. We have all the little pieces. We have guys in the minors that are going to come up and help us just like every single year. I don’t think people talk about that enough. We always have injuries every year and we always have people step in and fill the roles. And some of those roles are going to be a little bit bigger this year because it’s not necessarily the injuries, just departures from the team. And I have no doubt that the guys we have are going to be able to perform and help us out to win games every single night.”
Muncy speaks the truth. While there are question marks about who will play where, who will bat in which spot in the lineup, etc., the answers to those questions are all really talented ballplayers. It’s probably not wise to assume every young rookie is going to perform like a star, but it’s not crazy to picture Miguel Vargas being an above-average hitter and James Outman performing better than Bellinger has the last two years.
Again, this team won 111 games last year. FanGraphs says they’ve lost a net of 14 wins this offseason, which still puts them at 97 wins, and that’s without expecting much of anything from Syndergaard or Outman or other guys with potential to outplay their projections.
As Muncy knows all too well, the key to winning the World Series is to get to the postseason and then get hot at the right time. The 2023 Dodgers, as constructed, are absolutely a postseason team, and they’re just as capable of getting hot as any other team.
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