The Los Angeles Dodgers underwent a reload and reset this offseason, adding low-risk veterans on cheap-ish deals (Noah Syndergaard, JD Martinez) while tossing the keys to the kids.
The same can't be said for the rest of the NL West, a division featuring the Dodgers' new primary rival without a cap on their checkbook. Also featured are a scary upstart team making wise moves at the margins, the Classic Brand Rivals in San Francisco, and also the Colorado Rockies. They're also there.
The Dodgers and Padres are clearly favored to battle it out for the top spot in the division, and the Pads are the early favorites at the moment, as most prognosticators have been won over by their big-money additions and superstar core. That doesn't mean AJ Preller is the only executive whose offseason work will throw a wrench into LA's best-laid plans, though.
These offseason NL West upgrades should all put a scare into the Dodgers, especially in a division where the margin for error could rival 2021, where LA was edged by a bizarre Giants team by a single one of their 107 wins.
San Diego Padres: Xander Bogaerts, SS
The San Diego Padres ultimately inking Bogaerts was not the scariest possible addition they could've made. Rather, it was the capper on an absurd few weeks of the offseason that left the MLB world with one conclusion: the Padres, as currently managed, are willing to do anything and everything to obtain stars. And they're apparently not done yet, based on the rumors that they plan to scrounge up more cash to re-sign Manny Machado after he opts out, as well as chase Shohei Ohtani, who's been the Dodgers' White Whale for several very obvious seasons.
Bogaerts is an excellent ballplayer (who maybe, kind of, sort of should've been a Dodgers target). Ignore his somewhat-regressing advanced metrics; there aren't many shortstops like him, in terms of power and calm in the clutch, and he'll be an effective hitter for the next 4-5 years, no matter what position he plays.
That said, San Diego signing him wasn't the worst-case scenario for the Dodgers. That would've been Aaron Judge accepting SD's $400 million offer, keeping him in the NL West even after the Giants struck out.
The Bogaerts deal should have the Dodgers sweating because he's the nightmare addition. It should have them on guard because it was representative of the fact that the Padres would not be denied in their quest for a star -- unlike the Giants, who were rebuffed several times over (and skittish when they briefly landed one in Carlos Correa).
Somehow, despite the intense financial commitments already laid down on their books, this is just the beginning of the Padres being a gilded thorn in the Dodgers' side. Frustrating, to say the least.