Dodgers’ Offseason Inactivity is Puzzling

The message appeared to have gotten through to Andrew Friedman. In 2017, after falling one game short of a World Series title, Friedman did little to improve the Dodgers’ roster, figuring correctly that the team was well enough constructed to make another run. In 2018, after getting resoundingly thumped by a vastly superior Red Sox team, Friedman once again effectively sat out the sweepstakes for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, making only an absurdly transparent token offer to Harper, electing instead to make targeted incremental upgrades through Joe Kelly and AJ Pollock. Both seemed astute signings on the surface, but Kelly turned out to be inconsistent, and Pollock, who seems like he was born on the injured list, once again struggled with injuries and saw his center field defense alarmingly crater. Oh, and the team didn’t make it past the NLDS, getting eliminated by the eventual world champion Nationals and their built-for-a-short-series three-headed-monster rotation. 

Yes, heading into the defining offseason of his Dodger tenure and one of the more wildly exciting free agency periods in recent memory in terms of who was available, he seemed to have gotten the message. The team could really use a star or two to push them back into World Series contention. And those stars were out there to be gotten. Friedman himself, who rarely answers any type of question related to the team with anything other than non-committal and vague generalities, said the team had as many as 12 “elite” players they were targeting this Winter. So far, only Blake Treinen has joined ranks. And Treinen, while possessing absolutely malevolent stuff, is a reclamation project who was non-tendered by the A’s. 

The big three free agents are obviously off the market, and only Gerrit Cole was even made an offer. Other potentially interesting names like Josh Donaldson remain available, but the team has shown little to no interest. If a truly “elite” performer is going to be added, at this point it will have to be through trade. The rumor mill, which is rarely to be believed, has churned out names like Francisco Lindor and Mike Clevinger of the Indians, or Mookie Betts and David Price of the Red Sox, but nothing has materialized. The alleged holdup is Friedman’s reticence to include prized prospect Gavin Lux in any deal, but again, requisite grains of salt are prescribed here. 

Matters get even more complicated. Fan favorite and Cy Young finalist Hyun Jin Ryu signed with the Blue Jays, so now not only is the roster not improved, it’s inarguably worse. 

It’s barely 2020, and lots can still happen. Then again, nothing could also happen. And if nothing does, people are going to have some questions. 

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