The 2023 Los Angeles Dodgers flamed out of the playoffs before fans had the chance to process it. They had won 100 games, captured the NL West by a wide margin, and were believed to be better built for October this time around.
Turns out, that was far from the case. The Dodgers were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks because they had no starting pitching, which was essentially a problem the moment the season began. Even with guys like Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May in the mix before their season-ending injuries, there was plenty to question.
After they went down and the Dodgers knew Clayton Kershaw was going to be compromised for the rest of the year? The front office should've been all in on acquiring at least one top-end starter, or at least a couple with playoff experience, at the trade deadline. Instead? The Dodgers passed on Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Jordan Montgomery and even guys like Jack Flaherty and Michael Lorenzen in favor of Lance Lynn. This also doesn't include the various relievers they opted not to pursue.
Almost every other contender that was aggressive before the Aug. 1 deadline had the results pay off for them. The most notable is Montgomery joining the Rangers. Next up is Verlander to the Astros. And on Monday night, we'll be able to determine if Scherzer to the Rangers ends up being worth Texas' investment.
And we'll get clarity on whether or not history will treat Andrew Friedman and Co. kindly pending Scherzer's upcoming outing in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Astros.
Dodgers' 2023 trade deadline could be historically bad pending Max Scherzer Game 7
The Dodgers were reportedly in on Scherzer, Verlander and Montgomery leading up to the deadline, but they deemed the prices too steep for the veteran pitchers despite their playoff lives hinging on an upgrade (or two, or three).
The Astros and Rangers took plunges, though, and both are now one game away from the Fall Classic. Where has the Dodgers' aggression gone? Why did they let inferior rosters out-bid them for the game's top talent? Why did they feel making low-risk, medium-reward acquisitions were the right call to supplement the second-best offense in baseball?
Fans can understand not wanting to massively overpay for talent without a roster capable of making a legitimate run, but the 2023 Dodgers proved they were up for the task. The offense, in the end, did let them down, but that's because the starting pitching put them in an early hole for the first three games. Had that not been the case, the offense would've been able to play more relaxed and with confidence. But when Kershaw, Lynn and Bobby Miller cough up 13 earned runs in just 4.2 innings, there's not much you can do.
Scherzer's ALCS Game 3 outing has been the only blemish on this year's premier trade deadline acquisitions, and that's because he returned as quickly as he could from a shoulder injury. Both Verlander and Montgomery have largely been exactly what the Dodgers would've needed to battle and make a run.
If Scherzer propels the Rangers to the World Series on Monday night, you can bet the groans out of LA will grow louder, even though many fans aren't fond of the right-hander after the way his brief stint with the Dodgers ended. Scherzer's injury made it seem like the Dodgers made the right decision staying away, which is still likely the case because they wouldn't have had him in the NLDS, but it's the principle here. Acquire good players, get good results.
A second chance for Scherzer to redeem himself in Los Angeles may not have been the preferred option, but the Dodgers didn't have much to choose from. And he may not have even gotten to the Dodgers where they needed to go. But a successful Game 7 performance could officially emphasize that LA's front office made every wrong call at the 2023 deadline.