Despite opening the season with the rosiest possible projections, the Los Angeles Dodgers have already been forced to search for in-season upgrades far and wide in 2021.
These moves have ranged from the patchwork to the bizarre, and have already brought a few unexpected names to Dodger Stadium through just two months of play.
While we’re not sure what deals were made out of desperation and which were borne out of serious advanced scouting, the Dodgers have made a few unexpected moves in recent weeks that either went under the radar or way over the radar, dominating MLB discourse in a way we didn’t think possible.
So far, so good for two of the pickups, and very, very bad for the third.
All told, the Dodgers have been some variety of “disappointing” in 2021 only because of a losing stretch that defied logic from mid-April through May. Following a 13-2 start, a 5-15 jag when any level of disaster felt possible unfairly colored their record on the whole; outside of that “throw things at the wall” stretch, Los Angeles has gone a ridiculous 27-8.
While trying to buoy themselves against the current, the Dodgers made two pickups that further proved they’re among the best risk-takers and talent-identifiers in the league, and a third that feels like a continued swing-and-a-miss.
Per our assessments, two of these Dodgers have justified the team’s faith in them — while one remains an enigma.
Dodgers: 2 pickups who’ve justified team’s faith and 1 who hasn’t
Dodgers Win: Albert Pujols
When Albert Pujols was signed off the Los Angeles Angels’ scrap heap, it felt like an attempt at vengeance that was bound to go awry quickly.
When it was revealed that Pujols would be starting way more than anyone expected, this started to trip from “curious mistake” into “outright disaster.”
Seems like the Dodgers might’ve known what they were doing here, though. As usual.
In 13 games (10 starts), Pujols has socked three homers, with two coming over Memorial Day Weekend in yet another pivotal series against the surprisingly frisky San Francisco Giants. During his time in Los Angeles, with the expectations as low as they could ever be for a name like his, the great Pujols has already shown that he’ll look fairly solid while emptying the tank for a contender instead of playing out the string for the woeful Angels, one of baseball’s great experiments. “Can a team still be dreadfully boring even with some of the game’s brightest stars?” Yes.
In the smallest of small sample sizes, Pujols currently sports a 114 OPS+ during his time in Hollywood, bucking a league-wide trend of offensive downturn and his own steep aging curve. Los Angeles must be careful over the course of the next several months not to overuse the MLB icon they’ve stumbled into rostering, but they took a serious chance and bet on talent when no one else would — let alone an NL team without a DH slot!
It’s early, but Pujols has absolutely justified Los Angeles’ willingness to take a shot on his last chance.