It’s the MLB offseason and there’s a lockout, so naturally, the prognosticators are giving out offseason team grades. Jim Bowden of The Athletic released his grades for all the teams in the National League.
What grade did he give our Los Angeles Dodgers?
Dodgers grade: C
We passed! Wait sorry, channeling my high school math reaction. This is the Dodgers, so a C grade for the Dodgers is not acceptable. Let’s break down why.
“The Dodgers lost their 2020 NLCS and World Series MVP, Corey Seager, when he signed with the Rangers, then lost their ace, Max Scherzer, when he signed with the Mets. However, they were able to re-sign the versatile Chris Taylor on a four-year deal that includes a fifth-year option. The Dodgers plan to move Trea Turner to shortstop, his natural position, and give Gavin Lux the first shot at being their everyday second baseman. Los Angeles also improved its pitching depth by signing lefty Andrew Heaney and righty Daniel Hudson to one-year deals. The Dodgers’ biggest need remains starting pitching, but it’s more likely to come from trades than free agency at this point. They’ve talked to both the Reds and A’s about their available, proven starting pitchers, and I would anticipate they might be able to make a deal with one of those teams after the transaction freeze is lifted.”
Can We Apply For Extra Credit?
Breaking down Bowden’s insights, there are some alternative ways of looking at some of them. Yes, losing Corey Seager definitely hurts. This blow can be lightly softened by moving Trea Turner back to shortstop, however. Turner and Seager’s OPS+ and OPS were virtually identical in 2021, give or take one or two points apart. Sliding in a mixture of Chris Taylor/Gavin Lux doesn’t make up for the lost production entirely, but overall the Dodgers are not losing a ton of offense with the loss of Seager. Just a little.
Defensively, one could argue Turner is a massive upgrade at shortstop.
Pitching is where this hurts the most. For all the opinions about Scherzer’s decline given his age, he has not exactly shown it. He still had a tremendous 2021, albeit his arm showed signs of decline at the end. Kershaw’s fate is undecided, but we would like to hope he comes back to LA. Heaney is a nice ‘upside’ pickup who could easily be the Dodgers’ 5th starter. LA did not have a real 5th starter for most of 2021. So if Heaney even throws 180 innings and posts something like a 4 ERA, that is as much as you can ask of your 5th starter.
Hudson will likely set up Blake Treinen. It’s feasible that they fight for the closer role, but Treinen as a Dodger has certainly earned the right to keep it. This hinges on Kenley Jansen leaving in free agency, as most pundits agree he will.
In reality, the grade is unfair. If this were a true test from a teacher, the more correct version would be “incomplete.” The MLB lockout put a freeze on the Dodgers front office, so for all we know Andrew Friedman had a couple of big tricks up his sleeve. Many Dodger fans were dreaming of a Freddie Freeman for Christmas as well as a top-tier starter.
Dodger fans will just have to wait.