The LA Times’s Jack Harris offers a recap and analysis of the Dodgers’ relative inactivity this offseason.
For most of Andrew Friedman’s tenure as the club’s president of baseball operations, this is how the Dodgers have operated.
They’ll flex their financial muscle on deals they believe to be worth the value, but rarely expand their financial strike zone beyond what they deem a deal to be worth.
In recent offseasons, that has meant hanging around “the backboard,” as Friedman likes to say, in hopes of scooping up a loose superstar on the rebound.
Sometimes it works, such as their blockbuster trade and extension for Mookie Betts in 2020, or the shock signing of Freddie Freeman after the league’s lockout last spring. Sometimes it doesn’t, such as when the Dodgers missed out on Bryce Harper in 2018 and Gerrit Cole in 2019.
But for a club that prioritizes “sustained success” — another Friedman principle — and considers multi-year outlooks when constructing its roster and payroll, it has become the default course of action.
This winter proved no different.
While Rodón and Jacob deGrom got nine-figure guarantees, the Dodgers filled out their pitching staff with Noah Syndergaard and Shelby Miller (they were also heavily linked with Seth Lugo).
While Trea Turner, Bogaerts and Correa secured long-term deals, the Dodgers added J.D. Martinez on a one-year deal, and Jason Heyward and Steven Duggar on minor league contracts (they also made a strong push for Kevin Kiermaier).
The team never completely abandoned the thought of another marquee signing. With Dansby Swanson, for example, they positioned themselves as a shorter-term alternative for the All-Star shortstop in case he didn’t get the mega-deal he was seeking. Swanson eventually agreed to a seven-year contract with the Chicago Cubs before the holidays.
But in the end, the Dodgers effectively decided to double-down on themselves, bypassing the very top of the free-agent market with the belief they could contend in 2023 in other, less expensive ways.
I don’t have major complaints about the team’s unwillingness to spend a fortune on long multi-year contracts for guys in their thirties, although I’d like to have seen them keep Trea Turner and re-sign Justin Turner (for a lot less than Trea). We’ll just have to wait and see how this younger team does and trust that Friedman and Company will be able to find competent help at the trade deadline.