Could this year’s challengers wrestle away the top spot from the kings of the National League West, the Los Angeles Dodgers?
As we enter 2021 and the middle of the MLB baseball off-season, the teams competing in the National League West are beginning to finalize their rosters for the games ahead. There’s no question that 2020 was a rough year for the league; Forbes has stated that MLB teams have reported losses of over $1 billion dollars as a result of the shortened 60-game season and the inability for fans to attend those games.
It’s possible that those events will help the Dodgers to maintain their dominance over the league, as no other team in the National League West can currently match the resources and finance available to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their continuous success over the past few years has seen the team acquire rock-solid financial backing, which in turn has enabled them to hire the very best operations executives, data analysts, and of course – players.
Set to dominate for the next decade?
It’s a disappointing situation for teams such as the San Diego Padres, who have done well to build up a competitive roster over the last couple of seasons. The Padres seem determined to catch up with the Dodgers, and a quick look at the odds offered by sportsbooks such as Unibet Indiana indicates that they are one team who at least have a chance. The LA Dodgers are obviously the current odds-on favourites with a price of -167, but the SA Padres aren’t too far behind – a $100 bet on them is returning $150 at this time. Other teams including the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Giants are all huge long shots, with odds of +3000.
The Padres are a great team, but like all teams hoping to compete with the Dodgers, they lack a vital function that the Dodgers seem to have on lock up. When the Dodgers have an empty position or urgent unmet need on their roster, they have the advantage of being able to easily afford the price of any attractive free agent they desire. They will often keep their wallet in their pocket, however – their deep farm system is full of talented players for whom they can make a trade. In short, the Dodgers have the ability to get anyone they want, whenever they want. That’s a difficult thing to compete against.
All About the Money
All of the teams competing in National League West 2021 look to be aiming to reduce the size of their player payroll this year, including the LA Dodgers. We are currently at an early stage of offseason roster building, so all current assessments of the size of each teams’ payrolls are only estimates. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to take a look at what we know about the team’s current positions:
Los Angeles Dodgers: $191M ($221M)
Colorado Rockies: $144M ($146M)
San Francisco Giants: $141M ($160M)
San Diego Padres: $131M ($169M)
Arizona Diamondbacks: $93M ($169M)
(These numbers are provided by FanGraphs; The figures given in parenthesis are last year’s payroll totals, which are included to illustrate the size of the reduction in each team’s player spending)
As you can see, every team is currently expected to reduce the size of their payroll this season, although some of the totals are heavily skewed by one or two big players. David Price is expected to cost the Dodgers $32m this season, with another $31m going to Clayton Kershaw. Though a trade may be on the cards, third baseman Nolan Arenado has been costing the Rockies $32.5m last season. Colorado are shelling out $21m for Charlie Blackmon, and San Diego Padres have three huge player items on their payroll – Manny Machado is receiving over $33m, Eric Hosmer takes almost $21m, and Will Myers earns $22.5m. Can the teams continue to support these huge salaries when they are not bringing any league success? Only time will tell.
We may not see the Dodgers win the World Series every year, but in their own division they currently appear to be unstoppable. The team has all of the elements needed to dominate consistently, whilst their challengers have no choice but to be prudent and reduce their payrolls in order to best manage their limited resources. It’s going to be difficult for those teams to catch up with the Dodgers who have the finances to ensure they always have the best players currently available. Let’s hope the teams relish the challenge, and deliver us a few surprises in this upcoming season!
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