The Dodgers are known as a team that flexes its financial might. In 2019, the Dodgers continue to dominate the league led by its homegrown talent.
Across Major League Baseball, the Dodgers are known as a team that has the financial might to “buy” wins with its top five payroll seemingly every season. The 2019 Dodgers are dominating the league with their homegrown talent. One of their free agent prizes, A.J. Pollock, has missed significant time and Joe Kelly has struggled to translate his World Series success into a strong 2019 campaign.
With Pollock on the IL, the current twenty-five man roster has a whopping sixteen players that are homegrown players. Outside of the homegrown 16, two big contributors were free agent imports in Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Neither was considered big money signings but they have proven to be smart investments by LA.
Beyond the homegrown talent, the 2019 Dodgers have several big-time contributors that were brought to LA in under the radar moves. Justin Turner was a small free agent signing after being non-tendered by the Mets and Max Muncy was a minor league free agent signing after being released by the Oakland A’s. Chris Taylor was brought to LA in a trade for first-round bust Zach Lee.
Rich Hill was brought to Los Angeles in a trade with the Oakland A’s and later re-signed to a new deal to keep him in LA. Enrique Hernandez and Austin Barnes came to the Dodgers in a trade for light-hitting second baseman Dee Gordon. Then there are several bullpen pieces that were amateur free agent signings such as Julio Urias, Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, and Yimi Garcia.
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In fact, the only current reliever that was a big-time free agent signing was Joe Kelly who has started to turn things around lately. J.T. Chargois and Dylan Floro are the only relievers who were not draft picks or amateur signings and Chargois was picked off waivers while Floro was acquired last year in a deal with the Reds.
When you dig into the rest of the roster, nearly everyone else was drafted by the blue. Even Russell Martin who the Dodgers brought back last winter, was a draft pick by the club in 2002. This year the Dodgers have seen new contributions from draft picks like Alex Verdugo, Will Smith, Kyle Garlick, and Matt Beaty.
Tony Gonsolin will join the mix in his MLB debut today, and he was also a Dodger draft in 2016. While many will try to play the narrative that the Dodgers are only good because of their large payroll, this year the Dodgers have shown they operate more like a small market team.
The Dodgers rank 4th in payroll for the 2019 season and a good chunk of that salary is dead money waiting to clear. Andrew Friedman has done a great job building an annual contender that is mostly homegrown and with salaries clearing starting next offseason, they should be able to keep their core intact for many seasons to come.