Now that free agency is as quiet as it can possibly be, with only a few notable names (Michael Wacha, Gary Sanchez, Yuli Gurriel, Jurickson Profar, Andrew Chafin) remaining, it's perhaps time to evaluate the work the Los Angeles Dodgers have done since the first week of November.
Spend, they did not. Their "big" trade was for Miguel Rojas, which, in any other offseason, would've been a secondary one. A number of important players departed, changing the complexion of this roster more than any fan could've ever imagined.
Not to mention, the injuries to Blake Treinen and Walker Buehler set the pitching staff back big time. On the offensive side of the ball, LA swapped out Justin Turner for JD Martinez, Cody Bellinger for James Outman and Trea Turner for Gavin Lux.
For those on the roster, who are the winners and losers now that the dust has settled? There are a few obvious ones in mind. For the losers, hopefully they can turn it around with the odds stacked against them.
Dodgers Free Agency: Who were the winners and losers?
Winner: Noah Syndergaard
Thor signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Dodgers to round off the starting rotation. He couldn't have picked a better destination to rebuild his free agency value as he looks to rebound after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021. If the success of Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney tell us anything, Syndergaard, who's far more talented, stands to benefit in a major way.
Winner: James Outman
Following the departure of Bellinger, it was an open secret Outman would make the Opening Day roster, which was all but officially confirmed by Dodgers insider Juan Toribio of MLB.com this week. Outman will get a true shot on a full-time basis after his impressive 2022 cameo and could become a regular starter for LA.
Winner: JD Martinez
Though Martinez, per his agent Scott Boras, took a below-market deal to join the Dodgers, he's reunited with the hitting coach that revived his career back in 2013 (Robert Van Scoyoc). Not only that, but he escaped the toxic Boston Red Sox, who, despite an ALCS run in 2021, had been tearing down their successful operation since 2019 (for whatever reason). A fresh start for Martinez in a better enviroment couldn't be a bigger win for him.
Winner: Evan Phillips
The Dodgers barely addressed their bullpen despite various departures and injuries, which unofficially thrusts Phillips into the closer role based on his 2022 production. Treinen is expected to miss the entire season. Daniel Hudson is coming off a torn ACL. JP Feyereisen won't be healthy until late August. Victor González missed all of 2022 with injuries. Brusdar Graterol can't shake his health issues. Who else is there now that Craig Kimbrel and Chris Martin are gone? Looks like it's Phillips' time to shine.
Loser: Dave Roberts
For all the Roberts haters out there, 2023 is the year for you. The manager will be put to the test more harshly than ever. This is, hands down, the worst roster he's overseen. It's still good, but Roberts has been blessed with deep, star-studded rosters ever since joining the organization in 2016. Critics will say he's been on autopilot because of how easy he's had it. Now, he'll have to do much more navigating than he's ever done, thanks to a dearth of veteran talent and an influx of young talent.
Loser: Clayton Kershaw
This could be Kershaw's final year with the Dodgers or in Major League Baseball ... and this is how he'll potentially go out? By no means are we writing off the Dodgers in January, but if the 2021 and 2022 rosters couldn't get the job done, then how can we be bullish on the 2023 cast? Kershaw's now taken "discounts" the last two offseasons, but the Dodgers haven't responded with a title or blockbuster signings. Will he go out with a whimper in another early postseason exit?
Loser: Gavin Lux
We're still trying to figure out how Miguel Rojas fits into the 2023 picture. Is he the starting shortstop? Is he going to serve as a $5 million mentor? Is he going to be lurking behind Lux to take over at shortstop the moment the former top prospect falters? The Dodgers needed a capable backup shortstop, so the trade for Rojas wasn't all that shocking, but he's been a starter for quite some time and had his best career season from a defensive perspective in 2022. Are we sure Lux's job isn't threatened?
Loser: Michael Busch
Per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, "the Dodgers don't really have a place to play Busch" now that Outman, Rojas and Miguel Vargas are higher in the pecking order. Then you have the versatility of Chris Taylor and Max Muncy. All of those aforementioned players are superior defenders, too. Busch just logged 111 games at Triple-A and had a very good showing. But if there's no room for him on the big-league roster, then where does he fit? Has his Dodgers career ended before it even began?