It's time to call the Dodgers' recent investments into question
The ownership group and front office seemingly wanted to enter a new era of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball after all the transactions that were made (or not made) over the last few offseasons. Outside of spending on Freddie Freeman, the team made no long-term investments, instead opting to make patchwork signings.
Instead of spending bigger on more reliable products that they could very much afford, the Dodgers opted to spend less (but not by that much) on fungible and/or damaged goods. The last three offseasons, they let ALL of these players walk:
- Joc Pederson, Kiké Hernandez, Corey Seager, Max Scherzer, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Tyler Anderson, Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner and Chris Martin
The last three offseasons, they decided to extend or sign these players for a combined ~$270 million:
- Trevor Bauer, Tommy Kahnle, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Nelson, Danny Duffy, Daniel Hudson, Andrew Heaney, Chris Taylor, Blake Treinen, Max Muncy, Noah Syndergaard, JD Martinez, David Peralta, Shelby Miller, Alex Reyes and Miguel Rojas (among others)
Bauer made 17 starts for the Dodgers. Kahnle pitched 12.2 innings. Hamels never appeared in a game. Nelson has pitched 29 innings. Duffy never appeared in a game. Hudson pitched in 24.1 innings. Heaney appeared in 16 games. Taylor has been dreadful ever since signing his extension. Treinen pitched five innings last year and is likely out for all of 2023. Muncy had a career-worst season in 2022. All of Syndergaard, Martinez, Peralta, Miller, Reyes and Rojas are downgrades, with four of them dealing with notable injuries between the last 6-12 months.
It's all becoming more and more magnified because the Dodgers opted not to dip below the first luxury tax threshold, all the while failing to upgrade. If they never signed Bauer or the multitude of pitching reclamation projects or guaranteed Treinen/Muncy more money despite the two dealing with significant injuries, that would've freed up more than half the money it would've taken to keep Seager or Turner in town on a long-term deal. At the very least, it would've allowed them to make one marquee pitching signing and a few better depth additions.
Some decisions were necessary. Not paying $18 million for Bellinger was understandable. Not getting into a bidding war with the Mets for Scherzer on a record AAV was too. Even passing on Seager for $325 million wasn't the most egregious call.
But prioritizing Taylor for $60 million as he entered his age-31 season and giving Bauer $102 million (even not taking into account his suspension) were two massive missteps when considering the other talent they decided to bypass.
To make matters worse ... the Dodgers' alterations didn't necessarily result in a new, definitive culture. And they still spent a lot of money! If they were conducting a complete teardown, why wouldn't Taylor, Muncy, Treinen and Austin Barnes (another $7 million!) have been included in the exits? Those are all clear regression candidates/injury concerns/depth pieces that weren't nearly as integral as other departures.
The Dodgers did well by getting Mookie Betts via trade and immediately extending him, then signing Freeman for $162 million, but beyond that, their decision-making has been riddled with bad luck, poor judgement or lack of foresight ... or all three.