It's World Series or Bust for the Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers' roster now boasts two recent MVPs and two Cy Young winners
If the 2020 MLB season was a poker game, Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman just raised the stakes by about $57 million.
That’s how much the Dodgers are now on the hook for in 2020 to pay the salaries of Mookie Betts and David Price, both of whom were acquired from the Boston Red Sox as part of a three-team trade that went down late Tuesday night.
The deal, which required the Dodgers to send 23-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo to the Red Sox and 31-year-old pitcher Kenta Maeda to the Twins, caused L.A.’s odds of winning the World Series for the first time since 1988 to jump from 7-1 to 4-1 at Caesars Sportsbook and bumped their projected win total up from 99 to 100 — with good reason.
By adding Betts to a squad that led the NL in runs scored, RBI, home runs and slugging last season, the Dodgers made one of baseball’s most lethal offenses even deadlier for opposing pitchers.
Betts, who won the AL MVP in 2018, will slot into a potent lineup which includes reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger, All-Star Max Muncy, rising star Corey Seager and top prospect Gavin Lux.
A four-time Gold Glover and three-time Silver Slugger, Betts is arguably the best position player in baseball after Mike Trout — he’s second only to the L.A. Angels star in FanGraphs wins above replacement since being called up to the majors in 2014.
And the trade, as Dodgers fans know all too well, doesn’t just benefit Los Angeles on offense thanks to Price being included in the deal.
Price, after all, beat the Dodgers in Game 2 and Game 5 of the 2018 World Series, only allowing three runs over 13 innings of work while striking out 10.
The winner of the 2012 Cy Young award in the American League, Price will slot in as the third starter in a rotation that already includes 2019 All-Stars Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler.
Though rotational depth is somewhat of a concern after L.A. lost Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill in free agency and dealt Maeda to Minnesota, Kershaw, Buehler and Price make for a dynamic 1-2-3 punch that should give the Dodgers the edge in almost any potential playoff series as the team will be able to shorten its rotation and potentially start its aces on short rest.
On paper, the Dodgers look like the most talented team in baseball and, though it may seem the opposite thanks to the costly addition of Betts and Price, Friedman isn’t even all-in yet.
As good as the team should already be to start the season, Friedman has all the ammo he needs to acquire additional talent during the year should the team need it thanks to an over-stocked L.A. farm system that boasts top prospects like infielder Jeter Downs, catcher Keibert Ruiz and pitchers Dustin May and Josiah Gray.
Also, thanks to the relatively low salaries, a number of the team’s young stars are making, Friedman shouldn’t be hamstrung from adding even more salary to a payroll that, amazingly, may not even be over the luxury-tax threshold despite adding $57 million on Tuesday.
Barring a barrage of injuries, there’s simply no conceivable excuse for the Dodgers — who have gone to the postseason for seven straight years but only made the World Series twice and lost both times — not to be playing deep into October.
If the Dodgers make it to the World Series and end up losing to an equally loaded New York Yankees team that added ace Gerrit Cole this offseason, perhaps L.A. should get a pass, but only perhaps.
After all, should a team with two recent MVPs, two Cy Young winners and a roster full of talented players with a substantial amount of playoff baseball under their collective belts really be losing to anybody?
Probably not. Not that it hasn’t stopped the Dodgers from doing it before.
But if this locked-and-loaded L.A. team somehow manages to fall short of the World Series this year, it might be time for Friedman to push away from the table.
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