If baseball returns in 2020, the Los Angeles Dodgers are prepared to take the field with a stacked roster of talent. However, there are a few players who could make them even better.
It’s hard to find a weakness on the 2020 Dodgers roster. The only real uncertainty surrounding the team is when they will play again. As Major League Baseball continues to monitor public health conditions and grapples with when they should start the season, the Dodgers are sitting at home, ready to dominate the National League West again.
Winners of seven consecutive division titles, and having appeared in the World Series in two of the past three seasons, the only thing left for this group to achieve is a world championship. Imagine winning 106 games and adding one of the best players in baseball to your roster? That is where the Dodgers find themselves after acquiring Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox.
So how does a team with seemingly everything find a way to improve their roster? A good way to answer that question is by looking at a group of players who could become difference makers in 2020 if acquired at some point during the season.
MLB rosters are currently frozen, probably until a clearer picture emerges of when a 2020 season will begin. Who knows how trades will be managed in this unique landscape, whether a new trade deadline will be set, or not. It will also be interesting to see how teams react to a shortened season in terms of being able to remain in contention longer, and thus, perhaps less likely to trade players they otherwise would have over a full schedule.
Without knowing the particulars, we can at least think about the type of players the Dodgers might look to acquire to help them win their first World Series since 1988.
Of course, the type of players they are able to acquire will largely be dictated by luxury tax considerations. It’s unclear how salaries and luxury tax considerations will be calculated over a shortened season, so we will work with the current numbers.
After pulling off the Betts deal, Los Angeles finds their payroll at $232.7 million. This puts them more than $20 million over the $208 million threshold, forcing them to pay a 12% surtax for every additional dollar spent above $228 million, up to the $248 million mark, when they would pay an additional 42.5% surtax for every new dollar spent. In other words, their payroll flexibility is pretty limited.
This is why Joc Pederson remains a possible player that could be moved in a deal that actually goes through. He is making $7.8 million in his final arbitration-eligible season before free agency. Obviously, the Dodgers would prefer to move a player like AJ Pollock, who counts as $12 million against the luxury tax payroll over the next three seasons, but the market for him might not be as strong. As we explore players the team could trade for in 2020, keep in mind that moving salary out, either in the same deal, or a separate transaction, might be required in order to improve the team with these players.
With all of that said, away we go.