The winter meetings have concluded while the baseball offseason marches on as we continue towards the Christmas and New Years holidays. As customary in the Andrew Friedman era the Dodgers are standing still while all the other teams around them are making moves and improving their rosters. We watch as all of the big free agents come off the board one by one all across the league yet the Dodgers made no major signings or trades during this period. The lone exception was the team resigning future hall of famer Clayton Kershaw to a 20 million dollar one-year contract, inking injury prone right handed pitcher Shelby Miller and signing old and busted Jason Heyward to a minor league deal. Miller hasn’t had a productive or healthy big league season in years.
This kind of inactivity is not uncommon during Friedman’s reign. We’ve seen this sort of thing play out before. The Dodgers are reported to be in on almost every free agent (including their own free agents) on the market but the deals never get done. They even let their own free agents walk. The Friedman fans rejoice and come up with excuse after excuse claiming that every move he makes, including not making any moves is genius. They tell me I don’t understand, or are outright hostile towards me calling me an idiot and telling me I should be thankful he’s in charge.
Let me preface this by saying that if you feel the need to fervently defend a guy making ten million dollars a year like he’s a member of your family then you have some deep mental problems. I don’t root for executives. I root for the guys wearing the Dodger blue across their chest. The focus should be on the players on the field and not on millionaire executives or front office personnel. To be fair it’s possible the Guggenheim owners have ordered Friedman to not spend any money to stay below the luxury tax. We’re hearing this since the season ended and reportedly the Dodgers are waiting for final word on Trevor Bauer’s suspension appeal to find out whether they are on the hook for that terrible contract.
Let me tell you that when a team removes a player’s merchandise from their team store, it is highly unlikely that he will ever play for that team again. Don’t expect to see Bauer in a Dodger uniform again. His suspension will hold no matter what anybody thinks of his situation. Regardless of Bauer, it is obvious that Friedman’s primary job is to maximize profits for the Guggenheim group and his focus is not to win championships. Profits should go back onto the field, not in the pockets of ownership. As a writer and hardcore fan my job is to tell it like it is and not blow smoke. Our job as fans is to demand excellence from our team. Fans want championships because that is the whole point in all of this.
To be fair Friedman did win one championship. But that was in the Covid shortened season of 2020. The rest of the years the Dodgers have pathetically lost in the playoffs or World Series. They’ve had a huge opportunity to win multiple championships with the talent on hand but have not been able to do it. As the seasons move on watching the Dodgers do nothing to improve the roster during the winter and suffer soul-crushing playoff losses year after year is getting tired. Season after season the postseason defeats pile up while Friedman doubles down on his predictable and failed strategies.
This upcoming season is going to be the worst yet. The club actually has a bunch of holes to fill on the roster. Cody Bellinger signed with the Cubs after the Dodgers non-tendered him. Shortstop Trea Turner signed a massive 400-million dollar contract with the Phillies. The team declined longtime clubhouse leader Justin Turner’s option and let Tyler Anderson sign with the Angels. They don’t have a Center fielder, shortstop, third baseman, closer, full time DH, or fifth starter. We’re told they are planning to fill those holes by playing the prospects. Yet we’re not given any indication of which prospects. Judging by the few we saw last year, I find that difficult to believe. Other than a few weeks of Miguel Vargas, and some starts from Ryan Pepiot and Andre Jackson we did not see any of those highly touted prospects. For the record, I would love to see the kids get a shot. I would love to see the Dodgers get younger, healthier and hungrier. I believe team chemistry was a problem this year and calling up these kids might help with that.
I’m not sure I see that happening. It hasn’t happened yet, and I’ll believe it when I see it. After all when roster spots opened up due to injury we saw Friedman acquire and play aging veterans like Trayce Thompson and Jake Lamb, or worse acquire and play sub .200 hitting utility players such as Luke Raley and Sheldon Neuse. Thompson and Lamb played well in 2022, Raley and Neuse were predictably horrible in 2021. Then we saw Joey Gallo towards the end of this year get playing time that should have gone to guys like Michael Busch or Andy Pages. Either the Dodgers are not confident in these prospects or Friedman’s ego is getting in the way.
I’m assuming we won’t see many of these young players in 2023 if any. My best guess is that Jason Heyward will make the opening day roster and play center field, or he’ll make it as a fourth outfielder while someone like a Trayce Thompson will be in center. They’ll move Gavin Lux to short and Chris Taylor will play second base. Max Muncy will probably move to third permanently if the Dodgers don’t bring back Justin Turner and who knows who will DH. I won’t be surprised if we see the Dodgers pick up another .180 hitting utility player off the waiver wire to DH and play third. Shelby Miller might be the fifth starter (in a rotation behind Kershaw, Julio Urias, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin) and god knows what the bullpen will look like.
I’m not saying that Friedman never does anything during the winter months. There was that horrid contract to Bauer, the acquisition and signing of Mookie Betts, and the Freddie Freeman contract last winter. But for the most part he does little to nothing during the offseason. The winter is the time of year when teams fill out and upgrade their rosters for the new season. Most of the work is done during the winter meetings. That’s just how it works. If you do nothing during this time most of the good players have already been signed or acquired by January. Making no moves at all makes it very difficult to improve let alone plug glaring holes on the roster.
The Dodgers still have the talent on hand to be very competitive again in 2023. I hope I am wrong and we see the prospects playing every day next season. There’s still time left in the offseason for the Dodgers to recruit players that will help them in 2023. They can make trades and there are still a few decent players left on the open market. But Friedman and the Dodgers are as frozen as frosty the snowman. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Happy holidays everyone!