Dodgers: Stadium Cosmetics Are Nice, but a Team Overhaul is Nicer

A year after the unprecedented drag that was the 2018 off-season, the MLB hot stove has been a bit quicker to fire up in 2019. Will Smith, likely the best reliever on the free agent market, was almost immediately claimed by the Atlanta Braves. The San Diego Padres one-upped them with an even bigger contract for Drew Pomeranz. 

On the Dodgers front…well, nothing. Unless you count re-signing Rocky Gale as a big move. Many fans fear another off-season of big expectations and no payoff. Andrew Friedman, perhaps just to stave off bad publicity (although hopefully being honest), insists the team is in on all the big name free agents this time around. 

The biggest developments thus far have instead been in the much ballyhooed renovation of Dodger Stadium. With the park hosting its first All-Star Game in 40 years, it’s the right time for a fresh makeover, including improving accessibility and actually making use out of the dead zone beyond the centerfield wall. 

To which I say: sure, great. As much as I love the steady familiarity of the stadium (especially as the third-oldest park in MLB), all of the changes being made are necessary ones that will modernize it in time for a special event, and beyond. 

However, these tune-ups to Chavez Ravine will be utterly meaningless without a similarly renovated roster to play there. If anything, the fact that the franchise is so ambitious in remaking its cherished home creates the perfect backdrop for what was already obvious: the team, after a pathetic first round exit despite 106 wins, needs a serious roster reboot. 

By every measure, there is no greater time for Los Angeles to finally go big than this off-season. In the spending department, they’re around $40 million under the luxury tax threshold, made possible by building from within and two massive salary dumps. By avoiding previous albatross contracts of the past two off-seasons in Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper (wisely against my clamoring), they can now splurge on a big name that actually addresses a need this time around. Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg (preferably Cole) is a must to create the ultimate rotation, while Josh Donaldson or Anthony Rendon bring defensive and offensive prowess that would greatly boost the hot corner. 

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In terms of trading, they have plenty of capital both in terms of league-ready players and promising prospects. As always, an extra outfielder like Joc Pederson can be moved, or Corey Seager if the infield is reshuffled. With respect to signing either Cole or Strasburg, they could realistically move one of their surplus starting pitchers like Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, or Kenta Maeda. 

Especially after cultivating perhaps the best rookie class in franchise history in 2019, there is also breathing room to trade prospects. The Yasiel Puig trade last year yielded extra ones in Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray, either or both of whom could be flipped for someone like Mookie Betts or Francisco Lindor. Think of how Friedman, in one of his first moves as president of operations in 2014, flipped Andrew Heaney to the Angels to get Howie Kendrick. 

Furthermore, recent World Series history provides a compelling antithesis to the Dodgers’ obsession with winning on a budget. The 2018 Red Sox paid a hefty luxury tax for their title, but no one in Boston is complaining. Sure, the Sox are now trying to emulate Friedman and company’s demure financial approach after dismissing Dave Dombrowski, but they do so with a trophy three decades fresher than ours.

The Nationals sunk more than $87,000,000 collectively into Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg in 2019. Scherzer and Corbin alone made every penny worth it by teaming up to win game seven of the World Series, with Corbin the pitcher of record in relief. Strasburg, meanwhile, did nothing other than win World Series MVP.

Now is not the time to continue hot stove reticence. With the right amount of big moves, the Dodgers can truly give gravitas to their stadium’s overdue makeover. It would be a marketing dream: a new look team to go with a new look ballpark. And it’d be reasonable to anticipate it hosting both of MLB’s marquee events in the same year, summer and fall. 

Otherwise, it’s all window dressing…quite literally. Without an ambitious array of signings and trades this off-season, 2020 will be nothing more than business as usual for this franchise. The only difference being you’ll be able to watch a crushing postseason defeat from the new standing room area of the left field pavilion.

NEXT: Friedman Talks a Big Game


  1. Dodger FO talks a good “hot stove” game, but are probably still smarting from last year’s big signing of Pollock which turned out (so far) to be a complete bust! Just don’t see them spending even bigger bucks on this years FA’s! If change comes, it will probably be through a big trade.
    Dodger Stadium is a great place to watch a game. Can’t wait to see the changes!

  2. Over at the SNY Mets Blog the news is that Zack Wheeler could sign soon for something in 100M 5 year range and the Dodgers aren’t mentioned as a possible landing spot. Meanwhile, Andrew Friedman and Stan Kasten were seen deciding on color options for the new men’s bathroom in the revamped pavilion section.

  3. It would be awesome if the LA Dodgers signed (1) Gerrit Cole and (2) Anthony Rendon to start the 2020 season with the new renovations and to host the All Stars game at our beautiful stadium and to Win it All.

  4. You do not “overhaul” a team that won 106 games in 2019 and has averaged something like 98 wins per season for last 4 years. You build upon what you already have, add the needed pieces — call it a tune-up — once again win the NL West and take your best shot at post season which seldom ends with the best team winning.

    1. I agree w you SoCal Bum. Yes an ace pitcher is a big piece but it’s not a roster overhaul. People clamor for big free agent signings but give me a good hearty trade anyday!

    2. Where are the statistics to support your claim? I think you mean that the team with the most regular season wins seldom wins the WS? Because the “best” team is the team that wins the WS every year. Don’t buy into that talk the playoffs are a crap shoot. That’s what all losing teams say to make themselves and their fans feel better about losing!

    3. The best team always wins the WS. They are the team that wins the 11 biggest games of the post season. They are the ones with the rings, the trophy, the parade, and the big check!
      You probably meant to say the team with the most regular season wins seldom wins the WS?

      1. Exactly Tim. People need to say most regular season wins doesn’t always win the World Series and seldom is THAT team the best. The crapshoot theory is so annoying and kind of arrogant. Ask any champion if they got lucky or if they went out with their teammates and got the job done.

  5. If Clayton Kershaw does not give up the tying runs maybe this “overhaul” isn’t needed. To claim a team that won a 106 games needs one is hysteria at its finest. As nice as it would be to pair Gerrit Cole with Walker Buehler at the top of the rotation, the bigger improvement would be to send Dave Roberts packing.

    1. James, I concur with you last sentence here but it won’t happen. Now should Dodgers miss the PS altogether in 2020, and there is a good chance of that happening then a change may take place. And the padres just may be the team who could possibly un seat the Dodgers for the division.

      1. There’s a “good chance” of the Dodgers missing the playoffs next year? Let’s not go overboard. Missing the playoffs would be a huge surprise. Sure, it COULD happen, but there’s miles of difference between “could happen” and “good chance of happening.”

  6. All they need to do is sign Cole and Betances and then make smaller type moves that Friedman is good at. We are pretty set after that. We’ll have 2 aces in Cole and Buehler and Gonsolin and May with choker as our 5th guy. Then with Betances we’ll have a true late inning guy who can close if need be

  7. I have sang the same song for the last 5 years! The Dodgers WILL NEVER WIN A WORLD SERIES when its LEADER and and HIGHEST SALARIED PLAYER (by a lot) is such a POOR PLAYOFF PERFORMER especially when COMPARED to his REGULAR SEASON PITCHING RECORD.
    Therefore, save your breath,energy,and tears during the next two seasons!

    1. 106 wins. You want to overhaul that? Why don’t we all just buy brand new cars and take them to the first mechanic we see and tell them, “This car runs way too good. Please overhaul the engine and transmission. And please charge me the highest possible amounts for parts and labor OK?”. And now back to reality. Go ahead and let Floro, Garcia, and Ferguson go. You won’t get anything for them, but at least it would free up roster space for some guys who might be able to pitch. Releivers are cheap. May and Gonsolin are already doing a better job than the veterans.

      1. I agree. The Dodgers simply ran out of gas at the end. Like a race where the fuel was mismanaged. The driver had the race with a few laps to go and miscalculated his fuel and died on the last lap, while a better managed pit won the long race.

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