Andrew Friedman’s reputation as a pragmatic executive who pursues value on the sidelines and shuns headline-grabbing acquisitions is no longer viable. The head of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who cut his teeth at the fore office of the famous frugal Tampa Bay Rays, is officially a big game catcher. Over the former four years, Friedman has acquired—either through free agency or through trade—Yo Darvish, Manny Machado, Mookie Bates, Trevor Bauer, Max Scherzer and Tria Turner, a group of players who have combined for 25 All-Stars. In-game appearances, four Cy Young Awards and one MVP.
The final move – snapping Shearzer and Turner off the Washington Nationals for a four-probability package, under the title catcher Kibert Ruiz and bowler Josiah Gray – might have given the Dodgers some distance in the hotly contested Western National League and made them the best. Favorites to repeat as heroes.
“I feel like we’ve had a championship-caliber team prior that, with the pool of talent we have, with players who’ve come back from injury,” Friedman said on Friday. “But when you are in a position to triumph a championship and you have players of the type of impact that you can add – our mentality is to be combative in that and try to balance today and tomorrow. And at times we have balanced the coming and put us in a position to do that.”
Scherzer, the best starting pitcher available by a wide margin, has been followed by rivals San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers, with a clear need at the top of their rotation due to allegations of sexual assault surrounding Power, made him an obvious target. But they didn’t want to donate away premium leads to someone who might hit the rent limit. The addition of Turner, a short star who can be controlled until 2022 and may provide flexibility in the position, has created a path for both teams to get what they need.
The interrogate now is where does Turner play.
Corey Seager, who started the Dodgers for the former five years, was revitalized from the injured list on Friday following missing the former 11 weeks with a fifth metatarsal fracture in his right hand. Seager will return to his usual position while Turner navigates health and safety protocols in Major League Baseball following testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, but it’s unclear how the lineup will change when both are active.
Turner spent a lot of time playing middle and second base in 2015 and 2016, while Seager played almost exclusively as a pro. It seems sensible that the Dodgers would post a center-field turner, who could put a struggling Cody Bellinger into something of a left-field platoon with a right-hand hit AJ Pollock, or second base, where he could occasionally spell young Gavin Lux. But Friedman and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remain noncommittal.
said Roberts, who got to know Turner when he was in Padres’ lesser league system and Roberts was on the league’s main coaching staff. “Now, it’s the Dodger, Cory the Dodger. It’s about winning, and we’re going to put the pieces together.”
The Dodgers kicked off their weekend series against the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks three games behind the Giants, who have boosted their lineup in a big way by trading for four-time All-Star Chris Bryant. Two-and-a-half games behind the Dodgers are Padres, who captured Major League leader Adam Frazier in kicks, and also traded another piece in the back end at Daniel Hudson. The Dodgers have won the NL West Championship in each of the former eight years, but doing it again is far from a foregone conclusion.
Friedman admitted that the dynamics of partition were “certainly a factor” in his approach.
“Right now, we have to think firm about August and September,” Friedman said. “That definitely played a part in this for sure.”
The Dodgers are still not sure when they will see Turner, but Scherzer, who hit six runs in the one-run ball on Thursday, will join the team on Saturday, throw his sideshow on Sunday, and is expected to make his first run. The Dodgers in their highly anticipated game Wednesday against the Houston Astros. Duffy, who nurses a flexor breed, is not expected to be activated outside of IL until sometime around September, at which point the Dodgers will assess his role. Ideally, the 32-year-old left-hander would be a multi-role dynamic softener, playing a role similar to the one that Julio Urias has occupied in recent years.
The Dodgers started the year with a slew of starting options, including Urias. But Dustin May lost to Tommy John surgery and Bauer got into legal trouble that has kept him out of the team since the end of June. These conditions – along with Clayton Kershaw’s forearm inflammation and Tony Gonsulin inconsistencies – made him start focusing on the Dodgers prior the trade deadline.
“Collectively we felt that was a top priority for us to move the needle to donate us the best chance of winning the world championship at 21,” Roberts said.
Roberts hand-picked Scherzer to serve as the NL’s primary bowler at the All-Star Game earlier this month and described him as a “fierce contender, champion, winner.”
“The work he does every day prior he begins, between beginnings, parallels that of Clayton, well-documented for Dodger fans.”
From 2013 to 2021, Scherzer, 36, has 131 wins, three Cy Young Awards, eight All-Star Game invites, and a 2.86 ERA. Scherzer leads the big FanGraphs with a triumph over replacement (fWAR) during this nine-year period with 48.4. Directly behind him is Kershaw, 45.4.
Turner, 28, ranks fourth among short stops in fWAR since 2018, hitting .298/.359/.484 with 68 home points and 111 base steals in 439 games. He made his first All-Star Game this year and is on his way to having 27 career home players. Friedman described him as a “dynamic player” who adds a welcome combination of footwork and contact aptitude to the Dodgers’ attack.
The Dodgers haven’t been particularly close to fully attacking for most of the year, but Seager is back on Friday and the Mookie Betts (hip) will be back on Sunday. The hope is that Turner activates days later, Kershaw follows, and Corey Knebel return to the Bullpen’s back end, all within the next two weeks – putting the Dodgers in prime position for what should be an epic battle in the Western NL.
“For anyone — including myself, a sports fan, a baseball fan — to curl up around the NL West baseball, see the dust finally settles, it’s daft,” Roberts said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this prior.”