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2023 NL West preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

Can the Evil Empire hold off challenges to its authority?

MLB: JUL 07 Royals at Dodgers Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  • 2022 record: 111-51
  • 2023 projection: 86-76
  • Estimated 2023 payroll: $228 million ($262m in 2022)
  • Major departures: Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger, Tyler Anderson, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger
  • Major arrivals: Noah Syndergaard, David Peralta (sob!), J.D. Martinez

After the hiccup which was 2021, the Dodgers’ machine returned to normal activity in 2022. By which I mean, cruising to victory by 22 games over the Padres, then melting down in the post-season against the same opponent, losing the NLDS in four. They have won more than 90 games (or equivalent) for ten straight seasons, winning nine division titles and coming second by one game the other year. But things might be different in 2023, with Fangraphs currently giving them less than a one in four chance of winning the division. Another NL West team is simply outspending them this year, something that has only happened once in the past decade (2018, when the Giants had a bigger payroll).

They lost a lot of talent this winter: between them, the two Turners and Anderson were worth a total of 12.7 fWAR, and Los Angeles really didn’t do anything of significance to replace them this year. The team seemed to be trying to keep themselves below the luxury tax threshold in 2022, which would “reset” the penalties resulting from it. Speculation is this will then allow the Dodgers to go all in on a pursuit of the Angels’ two-way star Shohei Ohtani next year. [LA may have failed to do so: see discussion in the comments] However, they will also have to content with Julio Urias hitting free agency, as well as the annual debate on whether to re-sign Clayton Kershaw, who signed a one-year, $20 million contract.

Matters haven’t gone well for the Dodgers this spring either. Despite losing Trea Turner, they weren’t seriously in on any of the big name shortstops this winter, apparently content to shift Gavin Lux over from second-base. That blew up in LA’s face, when Lux suffered a season-ending injury last month, tearing his right ACL while running the bases. The drop-off from Lux to likely replacement... [/checks notes] Miguel Rojas is palpable. Starting pitcher Tony Gossolin also sprained his ankle, and may also not be ready for Opening Day. That leaves Noah Syndergaard as the de facto #3 starter, and he has made only 26 major-league starts since the end of 2019, with an ERA+ of 101.

However, I certainly would not be writing the Dodgers’ obituary quite year. The offense is still a scary, scary beast. The likely top half of their order is Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Max Muncy and J.D. Martinez, all of whom could certainly hit more than 25 home-runs this year. There’s always the potential for the Dodgers to sprinkle another bit of magic Hollywood pixie-dust on a player, and turn a journeyman into an All-Star. We’ve seen that happen often enough in the past. And if the back of the rotation has question-marks, no-one is going to enjoy facing Kershaw and Urias. All told though, this could end up being the worst Dodgers team in over a decade. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks.


Where will the Dodgers finish in the NL West for 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    (28 votes)
  • 50%
    (34 votes)
  • 5%
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    (1 vote)
68 votes total Vote Now