A lot of bets were made by the Los Angeles Dodgers' front office since the end of the 2022 season. Though a good amount of fans don't feel the greatest about the risky business, they can't help but trust Andrew Friedman and Co., who have rarely steered this organization wrong over the last eight years.
The Dodgers' gambles range in severity, but two of the more notable ones were their reliance on Max Muncy and Chris Taylor to have bounce-back seasons in 2023 after dreadful showings last year (and the team still won 111 games despite their backslides).
Betting on Muncy and Taylor isn't necessarily out of the question on the surface ... but when you remove Trea Turner, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger from the picture, it's an entirely different equation. Now you're limiting the number of bounce-back candidates while also removing proven offensive and defensive forces from the roster.
When you consider the team is also relying on guys like Trayce Thompson, James Outman, David Peralta, Miguel Rojas and Miguel Vargas, Muncy and Taylor become exponentially more important.
Based on the early returns, the Dodgers look as if they'll break even with their two veterans: Muncy has been surging this spring while Taylor has been plummeting (despite a home run on Sunday).
Dodgers look to break even on Max Muncy, Chris Taylor gambles
Muncy, in recovery from his elbow injury from last season that clearly hindered his offensive production, has had a great spring, citing his improved mobility and mechanics as a result of his healing process.
Spring Training stats aren't everything, but the fact he's hitting .293 with a 1.030 OPS, 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 7 RBI and 9 walks after a career-worst season is perhaps a sign of good things to come. The Dodgers extending him seems to be a worthwhile investment and if he can return to his 2019 and 2021 form, LA won't miss a beat despite the free agency departures.
The same can't be said for Taylor, though, who's had a disastrous spring after a career-worst campaign himself. He's hitting .137 with a .522 OPS with 23 strikeouts in 51 at-bats as he continues to work on his swing.
His homer on Sunday was nice to see, but there's still much work to be done, and it doesn't help that Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA is saying Taylor will primarily be used against left-handed pitching. Why? Well, a $15 million AAV player being utilized as a part-timer isn't really what you want and ... Taylor is equally effective against righties and lefties! It seems he's getting squeezed because there are more lefty bats on the roster.
Taylor wasn't supposed to be supplanted by guys like Thompson, Outman and Peralta. He wasn't supposed to be the backup shortstop. He was supposed to be the league's best super utility player replicating the offense that was lost the last few offseasons.
That could still change, but right now the Dodgers look like they'll be splitting these bets and looking to get ahead with another.