The San Diego Padres have worked tirelessly this offseason to still remain second fiddle to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, though there is an argument to be had about the Pads’ latest addition of Joe Musgrove beginning to change the discussion a bit.
That leaves them with a formidable 1-5 in the starting rotation, with Mike Clevinger set to return in 2022 and Mackenzie Gore, their top prospect, ready for action fairly soon. But all it’s going to take is for the Dodgers to make one more move in order to completely blow up everything general manager AJ Preller has worked for in San Diego.
And it comes in the form of this latest rumor about the Dodgers and Trevor Bauer. If Los Angeles adds the reigning NL Cy Young winner to their rotation, we can perhaps consider this “game over.”
If we’re being honest, we have no idea what Bauer’s market is. No ace-caliber starting pitchers have signed this offseason and he’s clearly the top option out there. The free agent market has moved incredibly slow due to the pandemic and various owners’ apprehensiveness to add considerably to the payroll, but the Dodgers aren’t really one of those organizations.
They’re the reigning World Series champs and are one step below from literally printing money. They have a powerful farm system that can either help them in the near future or be used to acquire more Major League assets. They’re a behemoth and they’re going nowhere. Plus, it’s important to remember they’ve always been somewhat of a leading candidate for Bauer.
And if they are concerned about finances, perhaps they can take solace in the fact that their payroll situation after the 2022 season is … quite empty. Mookie Betts is the only player guaranteed a salary, though Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Dustin May, Will Smith and others will be due arbitration raises. Nonetheless, right now, they have only $105 million committed in 2023 with guaranteed contracts and arbitration salaries.
For the near term, in 2021, adding Bauer would give the Dodgers three aces with ample depth as Urias, May, David Price and Tony Gonsolin will be hanging out right behind them.
Yeah, if this happens, it’ll serve as a huge blow to all of the work the Padres have done this offseason. Once again, the Dodgers could have the last laugh.