The Los Angeles Dodgers have been on a tear this season, winning more games than they have in the past decade. One of the main reasons for their success is general manager Andrew Friedman’s willingness to be aggressive when it comes to making trades and signing free agents.
The dodgers manager is a person who manages the team of professional baseball players. Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ general manager, says that his willingness to be aggressive was key in making big trades at the deadline.
Andrew Friedman’s image as a realistic CEO who looks for value on the margins and avoids the big-ticket purchases is no longer valid. The president of baseball operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who began his career in the front office of the notoriously thrifty Tampa Bay Rays, is now a big-game hunter.
Friedman has acquired Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer, Max Scherzer, and Trea Turner during the past four years, either via free agency or trade, a sextet of players who have combined for 25 All-Star Game appearances, four Cy Young Awards, and one MVP.
The Dodgers’ most recent move, acquiring Scherzer and Turner from the Washington Nationals in exchange for a package of four prospects led by catcher Keibert Ruiz and pitcher Josiah Gray, may have given them some breathing room in the National League West and made them favorites to repeat as champions.
“With the mix of skill we have and the players coming back from injury, I feel like we had a championship-caliber team before this,” Friedman said Friday. “However, if you’re in a position to win a title and have impact-type players to add, our mentality is to go all-in and attempt to balance the present and the future. And we’ve been in a position to accomplish this in the past when we’ve balanced the future.”
The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants were both interested in Scherzer, who was by far the greatest starting pitcher available. Bauer was an obvious target for the Dodgers, who had a glaring need at the top of their rotation due to the sexual assault accusations around him. They didn’t want to give up premium possibilities for someone who would be a rental, however. Turner, a talented shortstop who is under contract through 2022 and might provide positional versatility, provided a way for both clubs to get what they wanted.
Now the issue is where Turner will appear.
After missing the past 11 weeks with a fifth metacarpal fracture in his right hand, Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ starting shortstop for the last five years, was reinstated off the disabled list on Friday. While Turner navigates Major League Baseball’s health and safety procedures after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, Seager will return to his normal position, although it’s uncertain how the lineup will look when both are active.
Turner played a lot of center field and second base in 2015 and 2016, while Seager has spent his entire professional career at shortstop. Turner could be used in center field, which would allow the Dodgers to put the struggling Cody Bellinger in a left-field platoon with the right-handed-hitting A.J. Pollock, or second base, where he could sometimes replace the youthful Gavin Lux.
Friedman and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, on the other hand, are being coy.
“I’m going to speak to him and see where the best fit is for him, our team, but this kid can do so many things on a baseball field,” said Roberts, who met Turner while on the Padres’ big league coaching staff. “He’s a Dodger right now, and Corey is a Dodger. It all comes down to winning, and we’ll put the puzzle together.”
The Dodgers started their weekend series against the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks three games behind the Giants, who added four-time All-Star Kris Bryant to their lineup. The Padres, who added Adam Frazier, the major league leader in hits, as well as another back-end bullpen component in Daniel Hudson, are two-and-a-half games behind the Dodgers. The Dodgers have won the NL West in each of the past eight seasons, but it is far from certain that they will do so again this year.
The dynamics of the split were “certainly a role” in Freidman’s approach, he acknowledged.
Friedman added, “Right now, we’ve got to really look long and hard about August and September.” “It’s safe to say that had a part in this.”
The Dodgers haven’t decided when they’ll see Turner, but Scherzer, who threw six innings of one-run ball on Thursday, will join the club on Saturday, throw his side session on Sunday, and make his first start for the Dodgers on Wednesday against the Houston Astros. Duffy, who is recovering from a flexor injury, isn’t scheduled to return off the IL until September, when the Dodgers will evaluate his role. In an ideal world, the 32-year-old left-hander would serve as a dynamic multi-inning relief, comparable to Julio Urias’ position in previous years.
Urias was one of several starting pitchers available to the Dodgers before the season started. However, Dustin May has been sidelined due to Tommy John surgery, while Bauer has been sidelined due to legal issues that have kept him away from the club since June. Due to these conditions, as well as Clayton Kershaw’s forearm irritation and Tony Gonsolin’s inconsistency, the Dodgers decided to concentrate on starting pitching before the trade deadline.
“We all thought that moving the needle to give us the greatest opportunity to win the World Series in ’21 was a high objective for us,” Roberts said.
Roberts hand-picked Scherzer to start the National League’s All-Star Game earlier this month, describing him as a “fierce competitor, champion, and winner.”
“The effort he puts in each day before and between starts is very similar to Clayton’s, which is well-documented among Dodger fans,” Roberts said.
Scherzer, 36, has 131 wins, three Cy Young Awards, eight All-Star Game invites, and a 2.86 ERA from 2013 to 2021. During that nine-year span, Scherzer has 48.4 FanGraphs wins above replacement (fWAR), the most in the majors. Kershaw is just behind him, with 45.4 points.
Turner, 28, has batted.298/.359/.484 with 68 home runs and 111 stolen bases in 439 games, ranking fourth among shortstops in fWAR since 2018. This year, he was named to his first All-Star Game and is on pace to hit a career-high 27 home runs. Friedman described him as “a dynamic talent” who would provide the Dodgers with a nice mix of foot speed and contact ability.
For the most part, the Dodgers have struggled offensively, although Corey Seager returned on Friday and Mookie Betts (hip) will return on Sunday. The expectation is that Turner will be activated a few days later, followed by Kershaw and Corey Knebel, all within the next two weeks, putting the Dodgers in great position for what should be an epic NL West showdown.
“It’s crazy for anybody — myself included, a sports fan, a baseball lover — to get their mind around the NL West baseball, see what happens after the dust settles,” Roberts said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen something quite like that.”