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It seems strange to ask where a team can go after they make back-to-back World Series appearances, even if they did lose on both occasions. However, this could end up being a huge year for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they attempt to become the first team to go to the Fall Classic three consecutive times since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees.
Joe Kelly was signed to boost the bullpen, but catching help and perhaps a starting pitcher are the top priorities. They have made the move of the offseason so far by trading away Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Homer Bailey, who was subsequently released, and two prospects in order to save approximately $17M of their luxury tax payroll. The front office also managed to shave off an estimated $42M in salary, depending on the results of arbitration hearings for Puig, Kemp, and Wood.
So now what?
The Dodgers are reportedly going after top free agent outfielders Bryce Harper and AJ Pollock, but there are smarter moves to be made if they want to contend for another World Series. Harper would obviously be an excellent signing for any club, but he will likely demand a $300M contract, which would send Los Angeles over the luxury tax threshold. A trade that would make more sense would include J.T. Realmuto from Miami, as the Dodgers could use an upgrade at catcher; even if they end up bringing back Yasmani Grandal.
Corey Kluber could also be a trade option if the Dodgers decide to bolster their rotation. Rich Hill will be 39 when the season starts, and if they end up trading away Ross Stripling, Kluber could fit in between Kershaw and Walker Buehler in the rotation. Despite all the prospects they have traded away in recent seasons, they are still a consensus top-10 farm system, with prospects such as Alex Verdugo, that can be raided if needed. This means another blockbuster trade out of Chavez Ravine isn’t entirely out of the question; the Dodgers will have an open mind if they still believe they have a chance at the World Series.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman: "Where it leads us from here, I'm not sure. But I do think we have some flexibility."
— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) December 21, 2018
There is enough talent on this roster already that a 7th consecutive NL West crown shouldn’t sound too crazy at the beginning of the season. Corey Seager will return after missing almost all of last year with a UCL strain, and there will surely be other additions along the way. If Los Angeles can make some smart moves through trades, free agency, or possibly both, don’t be surprised if they can make their 3rd straight World Series.
Featured Image: Baltimore Sun