The Los Angeles Dodgers are as close as a franchise can get to completely untouchable. In the modern era of player empowerment and payroll collusion, Andrew Friedman has somehow managed to supplement his young core with mega-deals for Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman while still retaining plenty of payroll flexibility.
He’s even been able to make some massive mistakes and keep on ticking. When’s the last time you’ve thought about the Trevor Bauer contract? Exactly.
Friedman’s ridiculous roster, featuring the best lineup in baseball and an endless stack of pitchers built by Mark Prior in a lab, should be even better in the years to come — and not just because Betts and Freeman will age gracefully while passing the baton to Gavin Lux.
Below the surface of a team that leads the supercharged Padres by 17 games in the NL West is a farm system that’s managed to work its way back to the top tier, even during a season where it was supposedly “gutted” following the losses of Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray.
Led by catcher Diego Cartaya, slugger/Justin Turner replacement Miguel Vargas, and a group of fast-rising pitching prospect, LA’s farm is back to being No. 2 in baseball, according to Baseball America. They can’t keep getting away with this!!
Dodgers prospects continue to rise up MLB rankings, Baseball America
The Dodgers sit only behind the Baltimore Orioles, an uncatchable farm system behemoth that inarguably contains three of the game’s top 10 prospects (the just-graduated Adley Rutschman, pitcher Grayson Rodriguez and shortstop Gunnar Henderson).
And that’s … a pretty good place to be in, considering LA’s big club has passed the 80-win threshold midway through August.
In addition to the names everyone knows, the Dodgers have piled up depth on the mound, even as Ryan Pepiot threatens to graduate from the system.
No. 1 pitching prospect Bobby Miller has had a subpar year, but the stuff still pops, and he’s about to get a taste of Triple-A after striking out 117 men in 91 innings at Double-A Tulsa (with a 4.45 ERA).
LA’s makeover in the pitching department also includes breakout Nick Nastrini and top-100 riser Gavin Stone, both of whom received recent bumps, too.
After struggling to find a role for Lux for a few seasons now, the Dodgers also seem to have incorporated natural succession plans for their next generation. When Turner departs at the end of the year (most likely), Vargas will be ready. In fact, he’s already had a successful cameo, with James Outman as his running mate.
When Clayton Kershaw is ready to depart, the Dodgers have several names that could ascend below Walker Buehler — or, of course, it could be someone from the lab who nobody’s expecting.
That’s the thing about being No. 2. There’s talent you haven’t even heard of yet, lurking below your favorite MLB stars on the pecking order, ready to make Padres and Giants fans’ lives miserable for decades to come. All part of the machine.