The Dodgers have an excellent farm system because they draft and develop players as well as any franchise in baseball. They’re also very good at identifying under-appreciated talents and helping them maximize their potential (think Evan Phillips, Yency Almonte, and Tyler Anderson). So when people on social media cry about the Dodgers trying to “buy a championship,” just smile and nod and keep all the accurate, rude thoughts about those people’s intelligence to yourself.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not helpful to be rich like Los Angeles. They can sign guys like Freddie Freeman (although LA usually sits out the bigger-dollar free agents). They can trade for Mookie Betts and sign him to an extension before he even plays a game. And maybe one of the biggest ways their financial advantage manifests itself: They can sign players who are at risk of injury, knowing they have the money to replace them if necessary.
Sometimes, it works out — think of Rich Hill and AJ Pollock. Sometimes, it doesn’t — Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy come to mind. But even the moves that don’t work out don’t cripple the Dodgers, because they can afford the replacements, too.
That brings us to this year’s starting rotation. There’s been a lot of talk that the Dodgers need to add another starting pitcher, although that talk has died down somewhat since all the good free-agent pitchers signed elsewhere.
But when you look at what the Dodgers have, they don’t need starting pitching right now. They have a rotation that, if healthy, could be very good:
- LHP Julio Urias
- LHP Clayton Kershaw
- RHP Tony Gonsolin
- RHP Dustin May
- RHP Noah Syndergaard
All five of those guys have been brilliant at times in their careers. All five of them have also spent significant time on the injured list. It’s kind of the definition of a high-risk, high-reward rotation.
The problem is, you have to take the risk to get the reward, and that means rolling into the season with this as your starting five. LA goes into the season knowing there will be missed starts here and there, and they have a handful of prospects ready to fill in. Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, and Andre Jackson have all pitched in the big leagues already, and top prospects Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone are basically ready.
So it behooves the Dodgers to go into 2023 and see what their rotation can do. Best-case scenario, all five guys are healthy and Los Angeles has to scramble to figure out ways to get playing time for the prospects. That’s a good problem to have. Worst-case scenario, there are injuries big and small, and the prospects fill in the holes.
If they get to the trade deadline and have more injuries than expected or the prospects just aren’t cutting it, then the Dodgers should flex their financial and farm system might at the trade deadline to bring in a replacement. But bringing in a replacement right now would be counterproductive to the plan.
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