The 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catchers have reported for spring training, and because most of the roster is set heading into spring training, it is a good time for the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training Preview. As the reigning World Champions, there was not a whole lot that needed to be done to the roster in the offseason. However, with a good number of free agents this offseason, changes were bound to occur. Changes did occur too. Several teams made big changes this winter, and the Dodgers were no exception.
Dodgers Acquisitions, Re-signings, and Losses
The Dodgers were not incredibly active this offseason, however, they have made some very nice acquisitions. After losing Joc Pederson, Alex Wood, Pedro Baez, Jake McGee, and Enrique Hernandez in free agency, there was a major question as to Justin Turner‘s future with the club. Those questions were officially answered when Turner was re-signed for two more years with an optional third year. This is good for the Dodgers because of Turner’s presence on the field, but also in the clubhouse and the community.
Turner was not the only Dodger free agent that was re-signed. Blake Treinen will be back, as will Jimmy Nelson (minor league deal). The Dodgers also acquired some players via trade and free agency. The most notable of these acquisitions is obviously Trevor Bauer. Fresh off his 2020 Cy Young award, Bauer joins two more Cy Young winners in Clayton Kershaw and David Price. The Dodgers also acquired relievers Corey Knebel and Tommy Kahnle, with Brandon Morrow signed to a minor league deal. That will help strengthen an already pretty solid bullpen. There have been several minor league signings with invitations to Spring Training. We will look more at those as Spring Training progresses.
2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Rotation
There are some really good rotations in baseball this year coming into Spring Training. The San Diego Padres clearly grew tired of being the doormat of the NL West, and they did some big things. One of those things included putting together a serious rotation of their own. The New York Mets and their new owner have likewise put together a force to be reckoned with. The New York Yankees, well, they are the Yankees—always strong. Regardless of the fierceness of the rotations just mentioned, none are as stacked as the Dodgers are. MLB.com ranked the top rotations for 2021 and the aforementioned three rotations were immediately following the top-ranked Dodgers.
The Dodgers are the only team in baseball with three Cy Young winners in their starting rotation. No one else even has two. In addition to Kershaw, Bauer, and Price, the Dodgers have Walker Buehler. Many people think Buehler will add a Cy Young to his name in the not-too-distant future. He already has been All-Star and has a top 10 Cy Young finish (9) in his second full season. The Dodgers also already have another wave of young pitching talent in Julio Urias, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin. May and Gonsolin have already finished with sub 3.00 ERA in all of their MLB seasons. As Spring training plays out, the actual rotation will become more solidified. Urias, May, and Gonsolin will all be trying to earn that fifth spot. So it will be interesting to watch.
2021 Dodgers Bullpen
The bullpen is the area that experienced the most change over last year. Gone are Pedro Báez, Alex Wood, and Jake McGee. In their places are Knebel, Khanle, Garrett Cleavenger, and possibly Morrow if he makes the team. Other than that, it is pretty much the same bullpen as last year. Dave Roberts has said that Kenley Jansen will start the year as the Dodgers closer. In spite of his struggles for the last two years, Roberts still believes that Jansen is “the guy.”
However, in the event that Jansen’s struggles are not over and he loses that role, there are several other options. Treinen, Knebel, and Morrow all have significant closing experience, with Brusdar Graterol quickly getting ready for his inevitable closer status. Jansen is only 33, so do not count him out, and he looked better in 2020 than the two years prior. We will see how it plays out. It should be interesting to watch in Spring Training and see what kind of action Jansen has on his infamous cutter.
If it is not broken, why fix it? The Dodgers have yet another area of strength in their outfield. Losing Joc Pederson is not ideal. However, he was a platoon player who struggles against southpaws. AJ Pollock was an absolute Dodger killer when he was on the Arizona Diamondbacks. And now he calls Dodger Stadium “Home.” Injury concerns are real. Pollock generally spends some time on the IL each year. But when he is healthy, he is a great asset to have. Last year he produced well in the 55 games he played in. He slashed .276/.314/.566 with 16 long balls. If that is the type of production he can produce in a full season, then look out.
The other two outfield positions are going to be manned by two MVP winners in Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger. Mookie Betts is ranked as the top right fielder in baseball, and Bellinger is second only to Mike Trout in center, according to the top 10 players at each position at mlb.com. It is hard to see a better outfield than the Dodgers have put together in Los Angeles. Spring Training is six weeks long and anything can happen, so time will tell, but it looks pretty fierce.
The only position in the Dodgers infield that does not have a player in the top 6 on the aforementioned list, is second base. Chris Taylor is on the list at number eight at second base. The odd thing is that Taylor cannot even be found on the depth chart at second. Most people expect Gavin Lux to break out at second this year. So, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, and Will Smith will make up the rest of a very strong infield. The Padres also have put together a very strong infield that should not be downplayed. The Dodgers, however, will once again field one of the best infields in baseball.
2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Outlook
Coming into Spring Training, the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers look even better “on paper” than they did last year. Their rotation will have two more Cy Young winners, their outfield is the best in baseball, and their infield is among the best. While they have made some quality additions to a bullpen that was finally sound last year, it is still their weakest link. Having said that, it is still a rather potent bullpen. On paper, the Dodgers seem to be the favorites for a World Championship repeat. However, “on paper” does not win championships.
Look at 2019, in which the Dodgers won more regular season games than they ever have, with 106. Then, they proceeded to lose to the Washington Nationals (eventual World Champions) in the NLDS. Anything can happen in a 162-game season. The first step is being properly prepared for the season with a healthy and productive Spring Training. The pitchers and catchers have begun already, and the rest of the team will soon follow. It is an exciting time right now in Los Angeles, because Spring Training is the springboard that launches us into the season. It is baseball time again folks! Get ready!
Embed from Getty Images