The Dodgers have made a habit making the playoffs, winning their division, and winning 100+ games…and spending whatever it takes. The Padres have been desperately trying to not only keep up with the Joneses but overtake them. This offseason, the Dodgers were unusually quiet, likely to try to be under the luxury tax threshold in order to make an unfettered run at Shohei Ohtani after the season…presuming he is a free agent after the season. In any case, I address each team in the division in the order in which I think they will finish.
San Diego Padres. Each year they have gone after top dollar free agents. Each year pundits have predicted them to supplant the Dodgers at the top of the division. Each year they have been wrong. This is the first year I’m agreeing with said pundits. This is not because they are still spending (they are); it’s because the quantity of quality players is now at what seems an undeniable level. Last year Fernando Tatis did not play due to injury and then PED suspension, but is back as of April 20. Ha Seong Kim was a revelation with the glove in his place at shortstop. This offseason they acquired Xander Bogaerts. He will be at short, Kim moves to second, Cronenworth to first, and Tatis to the outfield. They’ve also picked up Seth Lugo, Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz. They of course also still have Machado, Snell, Darvish, and Musgrove. Barring disastrous luck with the IL, this will be a really tough team.
Los Angeles Dodgers. Newcomers include David Peralta, JD Martinez, Jason Heyward, Shelby Miller, and Noah Syndergaard. A few years ago that would have been an impressive set of acquisitions. No longer on the team are Tyler Anderson, Justin Turner, Craig Kimbrel, and especially Trea Turner. The Dodgers let Turner go expecting Gavin Lux would fill in admirably, but Lux is out for the season injured. Anderson’s departure is also important with Clayton Kershaw’s back a potential cause to be on the IL at any time and Walker Buehler out until at least the second half after TJ surgery. Put it all together, and it looks likely their grip on first is likely to be loosed. That could change if, say, the Dodgers get a trade deadline pick up named Ohtani.
Arizona Diamondbacks. Their prospects this season depend (1) on Ketel Marte remaining good, (2) rookies Corbin Carroll and Gabriel Moreno both being as good as expected, and (3) Evan Longoria and Lourdes Gurriel being at least adequate acquisitions. .500 would be good progress.
San Francisco Giants. They tried to get Aaron Judge, couldn’t. They did get Carlos Correa, they thought, but didn’t close the deal, balking over an old injury. They ultimately did get Sean Manaea, Ross Stripling, and Michael Conforto. Still, it’s an aging roster. Another .500 club.
Colorado Rockies. Their big free agent pick up for 2022 implausibly hit 0 home runs at Coors Field. It’s weird, even taking into account he only played 42 games due to injury. Obviously, they need him healthy. They also need bounce back seasons from CJ Cron and Charlie Blackmon. Their pick ups, bargain hunting players like Jurickson Profar, are unlikely to lift them out of the cellar. They aren’t as bad as the A’s, Nationals, or Pirates, but (because they play in the NL West) their record may not reflect that.