A candidate for quietest offseason thus far in the National League West might be the team that baseball expected to have one of the loudest: the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers currently rival the Rockies in offseason activism—a sentence few would have believed knowing Los Angeles was willing to shell out nine figures for a right arm.
Scott Oberg recently inked a three-year, $13 million extension with Colorado, bolstering the bullpen with one of the Rockies more productive arms in 2019. The Dodgers signed right-hander Blake Treinen to a one-year, $10 million deal earlier this week, so technically Los Angeles ‘has’ spent more per year. Treinen seeks to rebound from a 2019 campaign that featured an ERA hovering just below five, while Oberg in many respects looks to continue what he’s been doing.
The quiet noise within Chavez Ravine is a little different than that of 20th and Blake—spending habits remain highly diverse given the forecasted landscape post-World Series. The two reliever signings have been the ‘big’ deals for both teams in many respects—it means business as usual for what was widely forecasted by the Rockies, and sizable news for the Dodgers in that they didn’t land some of the big free agents they set out for.
The offseason buzz pertains more to who the Dodgers haven’t got, as opposed to who they have. Anthony Rendon is headed to nearby Anaheim, after the Hollywood lifestyle was deemed unfit for what he wanted for his family. The ink continues to dry on the Madison Bumgarner contract, sending him to Arizona. Gerrit Cole now dons Yankee pinstripes. Stephen Strasburg extended his Nationalism. Dodger starters Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill both elected free agency. It seems like an interesting time for a team that has been a perennial favorite in the National League year after year—especially when divisional opponents take the offseason headlines away from them.
Both the Rockies and Dodgers face interesting circumstances with starting pitching: Ryu and Hill pursuing free agency leaves a gap in a starting rotation similar to where the Rockies are after Jon Gray and German Marquez. Colorado faces the uncertainty of whether they’ll see 2018 or 2019 Kyle Freeland next season, and whether or not the departure of Jon Gray will come to fruition.
Los Angeles currently has Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias under contract, making up a projected starting rotation from their current roster; if the projection holds, they would lose Ryu, the NL Cy Young runner-up. Colorado looks to Gray, Marquez, Freeland, Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman in the same projections.
Scott Boras helped ink deals for Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon this offseason for a combined $800 million. If Boras were to take a five percent cut immediately, he would get paid more than any player in 2020 from these three deals alone. It of course isn’t to say he’ll get that five percent right away, but his representation also isn’t limited to these three players, either; Boras represents over $2 billion in contracts.
If a player made the kind of money Scott Boras does, they would be the 15th highest paid player in professional baseball.
There’s been bullpen headlines turning to heartbreak virtually everywhere Rockies fans may look after the Wade Davis signing. The biggest bullpen headline of the offseason is likely the Oberg extension, and his 2019 can make people optimistic that headline will remain a positive one.
Perhaps the most interesting detail for optimism throughout recent bullpen performance is the thoughts of Bud Black, a pitching guy himself, guiding arms in a challenging place to pitch. If the chaos truly is a ladder for the bullpen, Black was, in many respects, hired to make the slope of that ladder a little less steep. Seeing the man with a 15-year pitching career make the pitching decisions suggests that this pitching staff truly is in good hands, as far as the coaching order is constructed. With a pitching guy at the helm, it can hopefully reason for more positive pitching headlines in the future.