If it wasn’t for that one person who decided to try bat soup for the first time, we’d be in the midst of an eventful 2020 MLB season – damn you! Mookie Betts would be in a Dodgers’ uniform, half of the Yankees would be on the IL, and Alex Bregman would probably have more baseball sized bruises than a professional paintballer. Despite not being able to watch our favorite teams take the field each day, there will still be a season played – at least that’s what we’re praying to the sports gods. Some teams have improved, while others continue to rebuild. With the league’s proposal to combine divisions for shortened season, we might not even see the NL West compete for the top spot as usual. Granted, that proposed plan is nothing but a “maybe” at this point, but it’s something we don’t know if we want to see. The Dodgers, Rockies, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Giants each have something to prove heading into the 2020 season, so we decided to take a look at how each of these team’s fared during the offseason and free agency.
Key Additions: P Madison Bumgarner, C Stephen Vogt, OF Kole Calhoun, OF Starling Marte, P Hector Rondon
Key Losses: Adam Jones, Alex Avila, Wilmer Flores
The road to the playoffs is never easy coming out of the NL West. Between the Giants and Dodgers, and the difficulty of winning the NL Wild Card, we only saw one team from this division reach the playoffs last year despite three teams winning 75+ games, including the Arizona Diamondbacks who finished 85-77. The Diamondbacks had a strong finish to the season last year and already have some solid pieces on their roster in pitcher Robbie Ray and second baseman Ketel Marte. However, the Diamondbacks added a few big pieces to their roster this offseason that are definitely going to keep them in the running for this division. The addition of Madison Bumgarner to any team is guaranteed to add a few wins and the addition of Calhoun and Starling Marte to the outfield will fare well for them. Expect the Diamondbacks to be right up there at the top of the division whenever the next season might be.
Key Additions: A new taco stand at Coors Field
Key Losses: Dispensaries closed in Colorado during the quarantine
The Rockies literally did nothing this offseason. I mean absolutely nothing to improve a roster that honestly has a lot more talent than their record showed for last year. Let’s not forget this group was a playoff team just two years ago. The Rockies have left themselves in a vulnerable position for the upcoming season after a near dead quiet offseason in 2020. The only time the Rockies name was mentioned in the news were during the 100+ Nolan Arenado trade rumors. I guess you can say they won their offseason by not letting a once-in-a generation talent walk for a couple minor leaguers. The Rockies once again will have to be fueled by their offense in 2020 unless they plan to add some pitching before they step back on a baseball field. Blackmon, Story, and Arenado highlight one of the most underrated lineups in baseball, but the Rockies are going to need to get that team ERA of 5.56 from 2019 down, as that was the second worst in baseball last season behind only Baltimore.
Key Additions: OF Mookie Betts, P David Price, P Alex Wood P Blake Trenien
Key Losses: P Hyun-Jin Ryu, P Kenta Maeda, P Rich Hill, OF Alex Verdugo, C Russell Martin
The Dodgers will bring back a majority of the team that lost in the World Series last year. (I feel like I said that a year ago, will probably say it again in a year from now, but whatever.) You could not have asked for a better offseason for the Dodgers other than the fact that their starting pitching took a decent hit with the departures of Ryu and Rich Hill. Maeda started here and there, but was primarily a reliever. If David Price can go back to his old ways, the Dodgers will have added a pleasant surprise to come along with the Mookie Betts package. There is no question that after the trade with Boston, the Dodgers have one of, if not the deadliest lineups in baseball. They’ll win 100+ games again. However, pitching wins championships.
Key Additions: Manager Jayce Tingler, P Zach Davies, P Drew Pomeranz, OF Tommy Pham, IF Jurickson Profar, IF Gordon Beckham, P Emilio Pagan
Key Losses: Manager Andy Green, P Eric Lauer, OF Hunter Renfroe, OF Travis Jankowski, IF Luis Urias, IF Ian Kinsler, OF Manuel Margot
The Padres were able to make multiple trades this offseason that helped them acquire Tommy Pham and Emilio Pagan from the Rays amongst other trades, and also spent a lot of money bolstering their pitching rotation by giving hefty contracts to pitchers Drew Pomeranz (4yr/$34M), Craig Stammen (2yr/$9M), and Pierce Johnson (2yr/$5M). Despite losing Eric Lauer, who had a 4.45 ERA that didn’t really impress anyone last year, the Padres pitching rotation got much better. They were also able to add the aforementioned Tommy Pham and Gordon Beckham, both solid players that will consistently get on base and can play multiple positions. You’d think last year when the Padres signed Manny Machado that we’d really see a change in the team’s direction, but I think the Padres are going to surprise a lot of folks this year with their success.
Key Additions: Manager Gabe Kapler, P Kevin Gausman, P Drew Smyly, P Tyson Ross, OF Hunter Pence, OF Billy Hamilton, IF Wilmer Flores
Key Losses: Manager Bruce Bochy, P Madison Bumgarner, P Will Smith, OF Kevin Pillar, C Stephen Vogt
Losing Bumgarner was tough, but losing him to a team in your division that’s arguably the closest to getting to the Dodgers level? And they also got Vogt?! When you look at all of that as a Giants fan, there is a fair reason to panic a little. However, Bumgarner has passed his prime, Kapler is a well-established manager, and the Giants added a few arms to the pitching staff that I think will make up for the loss of MadBum who went 9-9 last year with a 3.90 ERA. The bigger issue is the Giants had a .239 team batting average last year, which needs to go up if they don’t want to be out of the playoff race by the end of August (or end of November…depending on when this season starts)…The additions of Pence, Hamilton, and Flores should help that to some extent. Pence has played in San Francisco and has really broken out the last two years, while Hamilton should make up for the loss of Kevin Pillar in the outfield.
Whether any of this will happen, of course, will be decided by how the MLB decides to handle the pandemic that has sent the sports world into a frenzy.