The Los Angeles Dodgers are flush with upper-level pitching talent, which explains why they've been so readily connected to Pittsburgh star Bryan Reynolds in recent trade talks (somebody's gotta do it!).
It also explains why the team seems self-satisfied with their rotation at the moment, despite losing Walker Buehler and with Julio Urías on the verge of free agency/Clayton Kershaw on the verge of his annual delusion about departing for the Rangers.
This season could be another 100-win campaign in Los Angeles. Sure, it could. You put any executive's feet to the fire and ask them to swear they went as far as they could to ensure success this offseason, and they'd be unable to confirm it, but shedding Justin and Trea Turner and replacing them with more Gavin Lux, Miguel Vargas and James Outman at-bats doesn't necessarily portend doom.
That said, this season is all about a mindset reset with 2023-24's free agency in mind, and the Dodgers' youth movement will be a major part of this shifting reality. Expect Ryan Pepiot, Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller to all make the rotation at various points of the 2023 season, and when Stone gets there, see if you can spot a few similarities to current Atlanta Braves All-Star left-hander (and future Dodgers target) Max Fried.
Sure, one's a left-hander and one's a flame-throwing righty. But take a look for yourself, flip it, and reverse it.
Los Angeles Dodgers top prospect Gavin Stone looks like a right-handed Max Fried
It really is freaky.
In 2022, Stone rose three minor-league levels to the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers, laying waste to his competition every step of the way. In his final stop, he whiffed 33 batters in 23.1 innings, allowing a .169 batting average against in six brilliant starts. All told, his ERA was 1.16 at Triple-A, 1.60 or below at every level, and 1.48 on the season (168 Ks in 121.1 innings overall).
AND he might've been doubling up as Fried the entire time, tossing with his off hand in Atlanta?! Color us impressed.
The real Fried is a Harvard Westlake alum and free agent at the end of the 2024 season. He also seems like one of the rare Braves who isn't under some kind of spell and inclined to agree to a below-market extension. When he's ready to talk trade or contract, the Dodgers will be ready. They'll also have a mentee for him, in addition to a well-placed mirror.