Dodgers: Is the Off-Season a Failure if a Star Isn’t Signed?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals tosses his helmet after striking out to end the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in game two of the doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park on September 11, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals tosses his helmet after striking out to end the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in game two of the doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park on September 11, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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The Dodgers headed into the off-season with aspirations of signing Bryce Harper.  If the Dodgers don’t land a star player like Harper, is the off-season a failure?

The Dodgers headed into the off-season with grand visions of acquiring a star player to help finally get the Dodgers over their World Series hump.  It started with a recruiting pitch to Bryce Harper, then translated to trade talks involving Corey Kluber and J.T. Realmuto.  So far the Dodgers’ biggest off-season move has been trading away two high profile outfielders in Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig.

The question the Dodgers now face about their off-season is it a failure if they don’t land a star player this winter?  To check the pulse of Dodger fans I posted a Twitter poll online yesterday and 74% of fans believe the Dodgers’ off-season is a failure if the team does not land a star player.  While it would be disappointing if the Dodgers don’t land a star after resetting the luxury tax penalties last season, their off-season would not be a failure.

This winter the Dodgers’ main goals this off-season were to beef up their bullpen and to figure out who would challenge Austin Barnes for playing time behind the plate in 2019.  Both of those goals have been accomplished as the Dodgers signed Joe Kelly and recently traded for Russell Martin.  The addition of Kelly was huge as the Dodgers’ pen features plenty of good middle relievers but the club lacked that one dominant eighth inning reliever.  Kelly is as good as any reliever when he has control of his fastball.

Adding Russell Martin may seem like a “cheap” move and it is with Martin costing the Dodgers almost nothing but the move could pay dividends in 2019.  In an ideal scenario, Barnes will regain his 2017 offensive form and start the majority of games behind the plate.  If he doesn’t then the Dodgers have Martin who is excellent at drawing walks and can hit double digit home runs still.  He also helps the Dodgers defensively and is a good pitch framer.  Both Kelly and Martin were solid pick ups.

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While adding Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, or Corey Kluber would be huge additions, the Dodgers are still the team to beat in the National League without adding a star.  The rotation remains one of the best in baseball, and the lineup will get a boost by the return of Corey Seager.  Alex Verdugo figures to get his first real chance to start in 2019 and should fill the void left by Yasiel Puig.

It’s also important to remember that not all the work needs to be done now.  Andrew Friedman is always open to upgrading his roster in season and 2019 will be no different.  The Dodgers can see what they get out of players like Austin Barnes and Alex Verdugo, and if they struggle then a trade can always be found to upgrade the roster.  The playoffs are a long ways away and the team the Dodgers start the season with is rarely the team they enter the playoffs with.

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Like most fans I would love for the Dodgers to sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper and it would be a bit disappointing if neither ends up in LA.  That said the Dodgers are bringing back a squad that has been to two straight World Series and they have all the players they need to make another run at a World Series title.  The off-season will not be a failure if the Dodgers fail to land a star since they patched up the holes on their roster.