NL West offseason recap: Padres improve, Dodgers get Betts
The National League West was involved in the biggest offseason transaction in Major League Baesball: The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox.
The Dodgers, in that same deal, also picked up David Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young award winner who had a 4.28 ERA in 22 starts last year.
Still, there wasn’t a shortage of moves elsewhere in the division.
If you’re an Arizona sports fan, you know that the D-backs got Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte. So what about the other teams?
Here’s a look at the rest of the West from the 2019-20 MLB offseason:
Los Angeles Dodgers
Key additions: OF Mookie Betts, SP David Price, SP Alex Wood, RP Blake Treinen, P Jimmy Nelson, RP Brusdar Graterol
Key losses: SP Kenta Maeda, SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, OF Alex Verdugo, SP Rich Hill, RP Yimi Garcia, C Russell Martin
At their core, the Dodgers return the bulk of the 106-win team from a year ago, including NL MVP Cody Bellinger, usually-stellar Clayton Kershaw and the steady Justin Turner. Adding Betts in the biggest blockbuster trade of the MLB offseason gives them three players who hit 30 or more homers in the top-half of the batting order. It also gives them unreal outfield depth so long as Los Angeles doesn’t trade Joc Pederson, who was seemingly on his way out until a trade fell through with the Angels. He and former Diamondback A.J. Pollock will likely form a platoon in left field.
If there is reason for fall-off, the odds are that will happen because of the pitching rotation. Losing Hyun-Jin Ryu to the Toronto Blue Jays hurts after he led the team with 182.2 innings pitched last year and had a 2.32 ERA. Kenta Maeda gave the Dodgers 153.2 more frames and was dealt to the Minnesota Twins.
Amid those losses, Los Angeles re-signed former Dodger Alex Wood, who played for them from 2015-18 before spending last year with the Cincinnati Reds. He appeared in only seven games (5.80 ERA) due to a back injury. Fellow starter Price, 34, comes off a season with the Boston Red Sox in which he produced his worst ERA (4.28) and WHIP (1.31) since 2009, his second year in MLB. Pressure is on youngster Julio Urias to finally play as a full-time starter. As usual, expect a farm influx led by infielder Gavin Lux (No. 2 on MLB Pipeline’s top prospects list) and pitcher Dustin May (No. 23) to contribute if roster flaws appear.
San Francisco Giants
Key additions: SP Kevin Gausman, SP Drew Smyly, SP Tyson Ross, IF Wilmer Flores, OF Hunter Pence, OF Billy Hamilton, manager Gabe Kapler
Key losses: SP Madison Bumgarner, P Will Smith, P Kyle Barraclough, OF Kevin Pillar, C Stephen Vogt, manager Bruce Bochy
No offseason move is more significant for the Giants than the departure of Madison Bumgarner, a four-time All-Star and 2014 World Series MVP. He signed with the NL West rival Arizona Diamondbacks, as did catcher Stephen Vogt.
To make matters worse for the Giants, some of the players they lost this offseason were among their best, including relief pitcher Will Smith, who was an All-Star with 34 saves; and outfielder Kevin Pillar, who hit .264 with 21 home runs and 87 RBIs.
The Giants finished in third place in the NL West last year, but were eight games under .500 (77-85), 29.0 games out of first place and only seven games better than last place in the division. The loss of Bumgarner and Pillar, and the lack of any big splash offseason additions, point to another step back for San Francisco in 2020. The best add was the return of Hunter Pence, who had a big year with Texas with a .910 OPS in 83 games.
— Matt Layman
Key additions: —
Key losses: —
Excuse the laziness involved in not filling in the above categories, but it’s not just to emphasize a point. The Rockies really, really didn’t do anything of substance other than adding players to minor-league deals, instead readying to chase 94 wins with a roster that won 71 last season. Yes, that is the stated goal.
“In ’08, with basically the exact same team (as ’07), we won 74 games and lost 88,” owner Dick Monfort said at a public event two weeks back. “But like a great American hero, Forrest Gump, once said, ‘(Stuff) happens.’ And that’s what happened in ’08, because in ’09 we won 92 and lost 70. Most of the people I talk to that were on those teams say the ’09 team was our greatest team. I interpolated ’07, ’08 and ’09 — I had an analytical staff go through and interpolate those numbers — and so in 2020, we’ll win 94 games and lose 68.”
That, apparently, explains the lack of urgency this offseason.
Sure, Colorado has nice pieces. Nolan Arenado — so long as he’s not traded — Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story all produced OPS numbers above .910 last season. Starter German Marquez still can improve, and reliever Scott Oberg has put together two pretty darn good seasons in a row. A blood clot ended 2019 prematurely for Oberg, but he’s been deemed healthy after signing a three-year contract in December. It’s just all the depth questions after all those players that will leave Colorado vulnerable once again.
San Diego Padres
Key additions: SP Zach Davies, P Emilio Pagan, P Drew Pomeranz, P Jerad Eickhoff, P Kyle Barraclough, OF Tommy Pham, IF Jurickson Profar, IF Gordon Beckham, manager Jayce Tingler
Key losses: SP Eric Lauer, OF Manuel Margot, OF Hunter Renfroe, OF Travis Jankowski, IF Luis Urias, IF Ian Kinsler, manager Andy Green
Outfielder Manuel Margot was a big prospect the Padres acquired in the Craig Kimbrel trade more than four years ago, and he now finds himself elsewhere as the Padres dealt him to the Rays to get pitcher Emilio Pagan.
Pagan could help out a Padres bullpen, as might the re-signing of Craig Stammen and adding former Marlins standout Kyle Barraclough. That was just one of the ways the Padres, who finished 19th in MLB last year in bullpen ERA, tried to fill an area of need this offseason. Getting Zach Davies helps a starting rotation that also features 2019 breakout rookie Chris Paddack.
San Diego made some helpful moves this offseason, enough to make the PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus give them second place in the NL West with 79.3 wins and an 18.5% chance of making the playoffs. The D-backs were right behind at 78.9 wins and a 15.8% chance of playoffs.
— Matt Layman
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