The Dodgers won the World Series. Lol.
That’ll never get old. But I don’t say that as a one-off. The fact the Dodgers won could influence their actions this offseason.
It’s looking like it’ll be a frigid winter for baseball free agency, thanks in large part to the uncertainty of when fans will, in full, be allowed back into stadiums. A raging pandemic that is far from under control is to blame.
This is where the Dodgers come in.
They have a ton of money (duh), even with the pandemic. The fact they won the Series means they’re getting an unexpected revenue stream — one this ownership group hasn’t had before. And, oh boy, have Dodger fans gone nuts (present company included).
That was the morning after, and you know fans are going to keep buying. I’m not sure how much more money the Dodgers will get from this, but it probably isn’t insignificant. This is on top of Mark Walter‘s $4 billion net worth, the $334 million in revenue from Time Warner/Spectrum for the TV deal and all the others in ownership who are worth multiple millions of dollars.
Another big factor in this is teams around the league are looking like they won’t be very inclined to spend this winter. Cleveland put Brad Hand — one of the better relievers in baseball — on outright waivers following the World Series. He had a $10 million club option. No one picked him up and Cleveland declined his option. Now, he has seen his average fastball velocity drop in three consecutive seasons, but at 31, he was still terribly effective for Cleveland in 2020 (2.05 ERA, 1.37 FIP, 29.1 K-BB%). But the fact no team jumped on him for that price — the same deal the Dodgers gave Blake Treinen last offseason coming off a horrible 2019 — should be concerning for free agents this winter.
The Dodgers have always done a good job in the Andrew Friedman era of building depth and being strong on the fringes. Going into the 2021 season, Friedman has a chance to make the Dodgers even deeper and stronger. They do have some of their own free agents — Joc Pederson, Treinen, Justin Turner, Alex Wood, to name a few — that they’ll have to either retain or replace. Turner seems like a good bet to come back, but all three of the others (as well as Pedro Baez, Enrique Hernandez and Jake McGee) aren’t as likely to come back. The Dodgers can attempt to replace them with players they have in-house, but if they choose to flex their financial might this winter, they can bring back whoever they want and basically sign whoever they want.
I’m not saying they sign a guy like Kolten Wong to be the backup second baseman. Wong is a quality player and — at worst — the left-handed part of a platoon at second base. But maybe the 27th- and 28th spots on the active roster could be filled by solid veterans rather than unproven rookies. Maybe they’re more inclined to bring back Treinen and sign Hand rather than rely, possibly, on Or maybe they improve the top of the roster and, in turn, improve the depth and fringes. That would be the Dodgers making a play for Francisco Lindor, simply because they can. They don’t need Lindor, but would you really say no to him donning a Dodger uniform? I’m not sure they will, seeing as he’s a free agent after the 2021 season — as is NLCS and World Series MVP Corey Seager. Also, Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler‘s big-money contracts are coming due sooner rather than later, even with the Dodgers’ payroll set up nicely for the next few years, they’re probably not going to pay 5-6 guys $25-30 million a season. Lindor would all depend on acquisition cost.
The biggest thing is, they could take advantage of other teams’ unwillingness to spend money this winter to improve a World Series Champion roster. That’s a scary proposition for the rest of baseball.
We all expect the Dodgers to be competitive for a long time. They’ve gotten here by following their plan. They aren’t going to abandon it just because they won a title (though, it definitely takes a lot of pressure off to make a big splash). Maybe they modify the plan according to the market this winter. If they do, the rest of baseball (outside of the Mets, Yankees and one or two other teams that might spend) isn’t going to be happy — and it’s their own damn fault.
So, we’ll see what the Dodgers do this offseason. They could just retain all their free agents and run it back. They could look for upgrades on the fringes or they can make a big splash. It’s almost completely up to them.
Friedman and friends are going to do what they think is best for the organization — both in the short- and long-term. And you know what? It’s worked out pretty well so far.