While the first month or so did not go according to plan for the Los Angeles Dodgers, we all knew it was only a matter of time before they found a way to leapfrog the Arizona Diamondbacks in the standings.
Here we sit, the Dodgers have played 49 games and are now looking down on all other clubs in the NL West. Somewhat surprisingly, the team actually has the second-best winning percentage in all of the National League, thanks in large part to an impressive 17-7 home record and a run differential of +48.
What is perhaps most impressive about this team's recent performance is that they've put together some solid wins with an awfully un-Dodgers-like team. Let's face it, the 2023 club does not have even close to the amount of starpower that they've had in the recent past, but somehow, the wins are still coming.
Aging position players like J.D. Martinez and David Peralta have been getting consistent at-bats. While they haven't been great, Martinez has a 111 OPS+ and Peralta has been contributing nicely as of late. Heck, even reliever Shelby Miller has put together a quietly promising start so far, posting a 2.91 ERA and 153 ERA+ through 18 appearances.
While the Dodgers didn't end up with any of the top-of-the-market names that had been available in the 2022-2023 offseason, they've still been able to maintain a contending identity. But what if they had signed some of these big names who landed elsewhere and are struggling or dealing with injuries?
Let's take a look at five free agents the Dodgers should be grateful they avoided.
LHP Carlos Rodón - New York Yankees
After beginning his career as a decent-but-not-great starter for the Chicago White Sox, Rodón didn't truly begin to break out on the mound until 2021, when he made 24 starts of 2.37 ERA-ball, posting a 13-5 record, 2.65 FIP and 185 ERA+. That year, he not only threw a no-hitter, but he made the first All-Star Game of his career and finished fifth in the AL Cy Young voting.
In 2022, he signed on with the San Francisco Giants, who saw him continue his dominance on the mound. The southpaw made 31 starts (the first time he's ever made over 30 in his career) and cemented himself into the conversation of one of the best pitchers in the game.
After going 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA and league-leading 2.25 FIP, Rodón elected to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract and return to the open market. While he was smart to do that, the Dodgers were equally smart in choosing to avoid him, despite being interested in bringing him aboard.
Here we are just about two months into the 2023 regular season, and the Yankees' prized lefty has yet to throw a single pitch for them. Instead, he has been on the shelf with a multitude of injuries. After beginning the season on the injured list with a forearm strain, he began dealing with a back issue that continues to keep him out of game action.
This is most unfortunate for the Yankees, as Rodón is locked up on a massive six-year, $162 million contract. He has been notoriously injury-prone and is not off to a good start in the Bronx. Even though the Dodgers have had some uncertainty in their rotation, they dodged a bullet here.