How should the Dodgers respond to the Padres’ moves?

(Via @Dodgers)

I listened to a lot of MLB Network Radio yesterday. After the Padres went on an AndrewFriedman-2014-Winter-Meetings-like transaction spree, the two most common questions asked — as it pertains to the Dodgers — were:

  1. Are the Padres now contenders for the NL West?
  2. What are the Dodgers going to do to respond?

Addressing the first one first: Yes, the Padres are contenders in the NL West. But guess what? They already were before the reported acquisitions of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Ha-Seong Kim. Yes, Mike Clevinger being out for 2021 was a big blow, but as long as Dinelson Lamet was going to be relatively healthy for ’21, the Padres already had the pieces to be a legitimate threat to the Dodgers’ reign as NL West champions. Remember, the Padres were on a 100-win pace last season (.617 winning percentage), so it isn’t like they were slouches to begin with. The Snell and Darvish additions just make them that much more formidable.

The second one is where we’re going to spend the most time. The loudest thing the MLBN Radio folks were saying is this makes it more likely the Dodgers will sign Trevor Bauer. Aside from not being as good as everyone thinks on the field, Bauer is a complete garbage can off the field, so I suspect (hope?) the Dodgers won’t be interested in his services. Besides, the rotation is already pretty full as currently constructed:

  1. Walker Buehler
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. Julio Urias
  4. David Price
  5. Dustin May
  6. Tony Gonsolin
  7. Josiah Gray

That’s pretty damn good. And if Price comes back strong after (basically) a year off and Urias takes a step forward, that’s a formidable and deep rotation. Now, if the Dodgers wanted to trade for a Luis Castillo (who, lukewarm take, was better than Bauer last season), Sonny Gray or Carlos Carrasco, I’m sure they could accommodate that. But if they don’t add a starting pitcher this winter while keeping all the guys above, I’m sure they’ll be perfectly fine with that.

Perhaps they pull the trigger on a Nolan Arenado trade — should the Rockies stop being so stubborn about trading within the division. Maybe the go get a Kris Bryant for pennies on the dollar. Eugenio Suarez would be an interesting fit at third base, seeing as the Reds are selling. Or maybe they ask Corey Seager if he’s OK sliding to third and go get the guy they likely would have gotten last winter in Francisco Lindor (if not for the Red Sox selling off Mookie Betts … thanks again!). If not, a completely appropriate response would be to re-sign Justin Turner and maybe an right-handed-hitting outfielder for some depth.

They could still go after a Liam Hendriks or Brad Hand or re-sign Blake Treinen to strengthen the bullpen. They could trade for Josh Hader (ugh), Jose Leclerc or Amir Garrett to make up for some of the losses. But if they don’t, they have plenty of internal pitching to pick up the slack.

Also keep in mind: The Dodgers have been quite active at the trade deadline in almost every year of the Friedman regime, so if they don’t make a big splash or land a back-end reliever this winter, there’s always the middle of summer for that to happen.

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It’s quite impressive to see what A.J. Preller and Co., has done with the Padres’ offseason thus far. He has definitely given the Padres a better chance of dethroning the Dodgers in the West. But let’s not forget that the Dodgers just won the World Series (lol, they did!) and were winning games at a historic clip (.717 winning %; 116 wins). While they’re likely to lose some of their veteran depth pieces (Pedro Baez, Enrique Hernandez, Joc Pederson), they still don’t have many holes to fill. They need to figure out third base and have said they want a right-handed bat. We’ll see what they end up doing, but there probably won’t be any knee-jerk reactions to the Padres’ flurry of moves from the last couple days. If they make a big trade, it’ll be because they’ve already been working on it for weeks. If they re-sign Turner and add a reliever via free agency or trade, it was likely already in the works.

While it’s a bit annoying to see the Padres doing smart things, it’ll just make for a much more exciting 19(?) games the two teams play this upcoming season. And if both perform as expected, there’s a very good chance they could meet for the right to go to the World Series — where either team would probably be favored.

If the Dodgers hadn’t won the World Series, I’m sure we’d all be thinking and saying different things. But they did, so ‘tevs.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.