Let’s set the record straight before we start on the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Boston Red Sox royally screwed themselves on this trade. The footnote of this trade is David Price has been added to a rotation that already includes Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. That should pretty much tell you just how bad this trade was for the Red Sox. I’m certain every baseball fan in the world felt their jaw fall to the floor when they saw Mookie Betts was being traded away to the Dodgers.
The Red Sox were World Series champions only two years ago and had the potential to remain a serious postseason threat with Betts in their outfield. But that doesn’t mean Betts will give the Dodgers any extra edge over other teams.
I can think of three reasons as to why this blockbuster trade for the Dodgers won’t do them any real favors in their pursuit of another World Series title.
Mookie and Price don’t add much to what the Dodgers already have
As I mentioned earlier, the Dodgers already have an intimidating pitching rotation. Granted they lost Hyun-Jin Ryu but Price will fill that hole. What will be interesting to see is when the Dodgers make it to the playoffs, what will the team do with two pitchers (Kershaw and Price) who have all the regular season accolades, but have historically struggled in the postseason. Yes the last time Price was there with Boston he finally overcame his postseason woes, but could that have been a fluke year?
The Dodgers are used to having MVP-caliber talent in the outfield. Cody Bellinger won the NL MVP in 2019 and his new outfielder partner, Betts won the AL MVP in 2018. Unlike Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium is widely considered one of the most pitcher friendly stadiums in all of baseball. Whether it’s Kershaw or Price on the mound, a lot of the skill Mookie used to earn his MVP and three Golden Glove awards won’t be on display as much as they needed to be when he played at Fenway.
The many teams the Dodgers must face in a potential path back to the World Series
Forget winning the World Series, the Dodgers still have to make it there. In the National League, you could make the case for eight other teams to make a playoff push. No need to look further than the Dodgers’ own NL West division to find teams who are making moves to win now. The Rockies traded for Kris Bryant, while the Giants traded for Starling Marte and signed Madison Bumgarner. Neither of those two made the playoffs last year -- these moves are clear indications they’re looking to change. The Cubs and the Phillies also didn’t make it to the postseason, but have the pieces to make their way back. The Braves, Nationals, Cardinals, and Brewers did make the 2019 postseason and look eager to make it back.
Why don’t we give the Dodgers the benefit of the doubt and say they make their way back to the World Series in 2020. Who could they potentially face? There’s the defending AL champions Houston Astros. Yes, the Astros are trying to weave their way through all of the distractions that have arised from their cheating scandals, but the roster has for the most part remained unchanged minus Gerrit Cole. Mr. Cole just so happened to sign with the Yankees as New York was able to give Cole the biggest contract ever for a pitcher.
There are a lot of good teams in baseball this year. Just because the Dodgers had their own big splashes in the offseason, does not mean they will be the last team standing.
There is a looming scent of desperation with these roster moves
The Dodgers have been losers on baseball’s biggest stage each of the last two years. It’s no cakewalk to make it to the World Series, so give them credit for that if you please. I’ve never been the type of fan to (bear with me as I need to quickly use football and hockey as a reference here because I have no relevant experience with baseball) purchase an AFC or Eastern Conference champions t-shit. Why would I remind myself that my team made it all the way to the championship round or game but lost?
The Dodgers are clearly sick of second place. They want to win now. Consider that the Dodgers will most likely only own Betts for a year before he becomes a free agent in 2021. It’s not just a sense of urgency, it’s an odor of desperation. If the Dodgers make it to the World Series and lose again, this season will be significantly harder to leave in the past and say to themselves, “On to 2021.” If they can’t win the World Series, most Dodgers fans will likely view this season as a major disappointment.
This trade doesn’t change much of the baseball landscape. Somehow the Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs last year. Now without their MVP and one of their star pitchers, it’s possible that drought continues. The Dodgers are looking to make it back to the World Series for the third year in a row. THIRD YEAR! Even before this trade, analysts and fans alike were predicting the Dodgers as possible National League representatives in the 2020 World Series. All this trade does is put more pressure on the Dodgers. Personally, I don’t think they’re going to be able to take it.
Jacob Recht is a producer for ESPN Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation Radio. You can follow him on Twitter @jakeyrecht
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