The Dodgers were the best baseball team of the regular season, winning a franchise record of 111 games. They outperformed the closest team, the Astros, by five games, and finished ten ahead of everyone else in the National League.
That didn’t translate to post-season success, however, as Los Angeles lost three out of four to division rivals Padres in their Divisional Series. As they enter the off-season ahead of schedule, baseball operations president Andrew Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes met with reporters this afternoon (link via Jack Harris of the LA Times and Fabian Ardaya of Athletic).
Executives predictably voiced their disappointment at the post-season early exit, with Friedman suggesting it was the most painful streak loss of his term on top of baseball operations. Yet he quickly downplayed the need for sweeping organizational changes, pointing to the volatility inherent in a short playoff series. While Friedman credited the Padres for beating the Dodgers during the Division Series, he noted that the lack of situational shots that plagued Los Angeles post-season is the sort of thing that tends to ebb and flow all year round. .
At that point on the team not requiring any kind of drastic overhaul, Friedman confirmed that former reporting manager Dave Roberts would be returning for an eighth season. “I feel like Dave and his coaching staff have done an incredible job during the regular season to bring this team to 111 wins“Friedman said, noting that the skipper would”100%“Return to the role in 2023.”It doesn’t seem to me that it was a switch that was then turned off or that the players needed a different voice in those games (playoffs). This is my personal belief.“
Friedman added that he does not expect there to be any changes in Roberts’ coaching staff, which implies that everyone will be offered the chance to return. Every off-season, teams run the risk of seeing a manager leave to take on a bigger role with another club. Bench manager Bob Geren and first baseman Clayton McCullough received some managerial attention last winter, for example, and it’s possible their names have surfaced in searches this off-season.
As for the game staff, Friedman and Gomes touched upon some key decisions they will need to make at the start of the off-season. Los Angeles will see the franchise icon Clayton Kershaw hit the free agency for the second consecutive winter. Last offseason, the Dodgers surprisingly chose not to make Kershaw a qualifying offer. Friedman later explained that the Dodgers did not want to pressure the future Hall of Famer into making a decision on whether to return within the 10-day window allotted for qualified free agents. Kershaw didn’t make a decision until after the lockdown and eventually signed a $ 17 million one-year warranty in Spring Training again.
Since Kershaw did not receive a qualification offer last winter, he is eligible again. Friedman did not explicitly rule out QO this time, but strongly suggested that they would again opt against it. “Like I said last year, I think he takes the time and puts his head on (his wife) Ellen and understands what makes the most sense for their family is what we’re going to give them the time to do.Said the president of the Dodgers. Friedman called it him “strong hope”That Kershaw chooses to return for a sixteenth season in Los Angeles
This year’s qualifying offer was set at $ 19.65 million. This is a perfectly reasonable price to pay for the three-time winner of Cy Young, who remains among the best holders in the game by rate. Kershaw pitched at an ERA of 2.28 pounds in 126 innings and 1/3 last season, hitting 27.8% above average against an elite walk rate of 4.7%. He lost about a month each from hip and back injuries, but he didn’t seem to feel any negative effects of the forearm discomfort that disrupted his 2021 season.
Kershaw has stated a few times in recent weeks that he is currently inclined to continue his career. Immediately after the loss of the series, he told reporters that “as of now, i would say i will play again. ” He added that spending time with his family early in the off-season has the potential to change his mind, however, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kershaw take his free will process slower than most players. Last winter’s decision seemed to hinge on a return to Los Angeles, joining his hometown Rangers or his retirement. It looks like it’s a similar story this winter, with both the Dodgers and Rangers sure to have a significant interest in signing him. (Of course other teams would call if Kershaw expanded his geographic area, but that would be quite surprising.)
While the ball is mostly in Kershaw’s court as far as the return to Dodger Stadium is concerned, it is up to the team to decide how to proceed with the NL 2019 MVP. Cody Bellinger. Bellinger is eligible for arbitration for the last time this winter, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz expects him to receive a salary of $ 18.1 million if he is offered a contract. Alone Juan Soto has a higher arbitration projection, a testament to Bellinger’s early career successes. Those earned high salaries early in his career, and the arbitration system is designed in such a way that salaries almost always increase year after year.
However, Bellinger’s offensive production has evaporated in recent seasons. He followed his 47-homer MVP campaign with a slightly above average result (.239 / .333 / .455) in 2020. While it seemed like a potential drawback in an anomalous season, he has seen a steady steep decline. to the plate. Bellinger reached .165 / .240 / .302 out of 350 trips to the plate last year. He rebounded slightly last season, but his he line .210 / .265 / .389 out of 550 plate appearances was still significantly worse than average.
Of the 172 batters with more than 800 appearances on the plate in the past two seasons, Bellinger finished last with a 0.256 base rate. His .355 slugging mark is in the bottom ten. Bellinger’s 7.7% walk rate and 27.1% strikeout rate are both below average, and his hard contact rate is considerably lower than the 2019 peak. Those long fights would seem to indicate that Bellinger isn’t was offered in lieu of such a high salary, but it was a strong lead outside the batter’s area. He wiped out 14 bases in 17 attempts last season and ranked as an above average base runner overall. More importantly, he has been checking in as an extra center-back throughout his career, including +5 points above the statcast average this season.
Neither Friedman nor Gomes have made a definitive statement on the possibility of a no-race, but Gomes generally praised Bellinger’s overall value. “Belli has had successful shots throughout the season”Said the GM. “I think the elite defense has continued to be there and we still think there is an advantage (offensive). So these are discussions that we will move on as we examine what 2023 will look like.“
Friedman offered similar sentiment when asked about the club’s $ 16 million option on third base Justin Turner. Friedman called Turner “a huge part of our successBut noted that the front office needed more time to think about key decisions on the list. Turner appeared to be leaning towards a $ 2 million buyout with a .256 / .330 / .403 showing in the first half of the season, but he made a tough call to the front office by posting an excellent .319 / .386 / Line. 503 coming out of the All-Star Break.