Just like that, we're almost done previewing the MLB season. Spring training is well underway and we're just a few short weeks away from the start of the 2020 MLB season. We will be taking a look at the N.L. West here, a division that has been dominated by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the course of the past decade. Will another team fight to take the Dodgers throne? Or will a new challenger take their crown?
N.L. West Predictions
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (103-59)
The previous decade for the Los Angeles Dodgers was marred with regular-season dominance and playoff disappointment. They needed to do something different this offseason, something that would solidify themselves as the top contenders in the National League. That's exactly what they did.
In an absolute blockbuster, the Dodgers struck a deal with the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, which sent former A.L. MVP Mookie Betts and former A.L. Cy young David Price to Los Angeles for Alex Verdugo, and prospect Jeter Downs. In a separate trade, the Twins acquired Kenta Maeda from L.A. Wow. You want to talk about solidifying yourself as the best team. Betts now joins a lineup with reigning N.L. MVP Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, and a couple of young guys ready to blossom in their first full year in the big leagues.
David Price was also a sneaky good pickup for the Dodgers. L.A. lost two key pitchers in Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu and Price's pedigree and playoff experience help out a lot in a relatively young rotation besides Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers were the favorite to win the division before the trade and now they're the overwhelming favorite and could challenge for the best record in baseball.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks (88-64)
The Arizona Diamondbacks were busy this offseason. They were already good but needed to add a few pieces to contend for a possible playoff spot. Arizona signed former division rival Madison Bumgarner to a four-year contract, giving the Diamondbacks an ace who will give you 200+ innings and be a force in the playoffs. The Diamondbacks also were able to sign Kole Calhoun away from the Los Angeles Angels. Calhoun is a lefty power bat that will likely be a platoon player.
Not only was Arizona active in the free-agent market, but they were also active in the trade market. They struck a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates to acquire outfielder Starling Marte. Marte is coming off of a resurgent year, which saw him produce career highs in home runs, RBIs, and slugging percentage. With Chase Field being a hitter-friendly ballpark and the Diamondbacks also sporting a strong lineup, Marte is in line to have the best season of his career.
Arizona could be active at the trade deadline. Their weakness is pitching and could use another veteran starter or one or two more bullpen pieces. If they are able to execute at the deadline they could be in line to battle for one of the National League Wild Card spots.
3. San Diego Padres (83-79)
The free-agent portion of the offseason was relatively quiet for the San Diego Padres. They were able to bring back former Padre Drew Pomeranz, who was largely affective after moving to the bullpen. However, San Diego did most of its damage in the trade market and was able to acquire a few potential impact players.
In a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, they acquired starting pitcher Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham. Davies is a solid starter who relies on control and soft contact and should be a nice piece in the Padres rotation. Grisham, on the other hand, is a young and talented outfielder who struggled to get it going last year in his inaugural showing in the majors. That could be a sneaky good pickup for San Diego.
The Padres were also able to get utility man Jurickson Profar from Oakland, veteran outfielder Tommy Pham and relief pitcher Emilio Pagan, both from the Tampa Bay Rays. Pham and Profar should help bolster a San Diego lineup that has a dynamic duo in Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis. My favorite pickup though was Emilio Pagan. Pagan didn't really shine because of how Tampa Bay uses their bullpen, but he has A+ stuff and will be a great set up man for Kirby Yates.
If San Diego was able to secure one of the big names in free agency, I would've had them contending for a Wild Card spot. Unfortunately, I don't think their rotation is there yet. It's better than it was last year and Chris Paddack should build off of a strong freshman campaign, but the Padres still lack depth in their rotation.
4. Colorado Rockies (72-90)
There are a lot of negative terms you could use to describe the Colorado Rockies offseason. I'll just go with disappointment. They didn't sign anybody notable besides former Rockie Ubaldo Jiminez, who they brought in on a minor-league deal. In the process, they dangled their best player, Nolan Arenado in the trade market. Arenado was not a fan of this and publicly displayed his anger towards the front office.
Colorado isn't necessarily bad, as they have quality bats, including Arenado, Trevor Story, and Daniel Murphy. Hitting won't be a problem, especially with them playing half of their games in the altitude of Coors Field. Pitching will once again be a problem. The Rockies have never really had a premier starting pitcher and top prospects haven't panned out either. It's going to be another tough year for Rockies pitching,
Colorado could be a team that is active at the deadline, but most likely as a seller. Could they pull the trigger on a Nolan Arenado trade? Or do they sell away some of their veteran bullpen pieces? Whatever the case may be, the Rockies are likely to be sellers at that point.
San Francisco Giants (64-98)
After a dominant decade that saw the San Francisco Giants win three World Series titles, they head into 2020 in full rebuild mode. They lost franchise cornerstone, Madison Bumgarner, in free agency to the Arizona Diamondbacks. While everyone knew that he was leaving, it's still a tough blow to lose someone like Mad-Bum.
The Giants still have pieces from their World Series championships, including shortstop Brandon Crawford, first baseman Brandon Belt, and catcher Buster Posey. However, their beginning to age and are likely to be trade candidates sometime in the near future. San Francisco unfortunately also has some bad contracts, including pitcher Johnny Cueto, slated to make $21 million this year, and Evan Longoria, who will be making $15 million this year. Those two will likely play out their contracts in San Fran, which both expire in 2023.
They do have some bright stars in their farm system, including catcher Joey Bart and shortstop Marco Luciano. However, those spots are taken up by Crawford and Posey, so we likely won't see them until next year due to the current circumstances caused by Covid-19.
Giants fans, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this is going to be a difficult year for you guys. Don't fret though, the strength of the farm system should give you guys hopes of another World Series run in the middle to end of the decade.