The Los Angeles Dodgers have been one of the best teams for the last decade., they won the second-most regular season games in the 2010s, and they’ve made the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons, according to Fangraphs. However, they didn’t win a World Series, losing 2017 and 2018 to the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox, respectively.
However, Los Angeles still has an elite core, and combined with some of MLB’s best minor league players, the Dodgers might be en route to establishing a dynasty.
This offseason, Los Angeles acquired outfielder Mookie Betts from the Red Sox. At the time of the trade, Betts — the 2018 American League MVP — was viewed as a one-year rental by the Dodgers before he would enter free agency and sign a massive contract somewhere else.
Then the coronavirus hit, and it became uncertain if Betts would ever play in a Dodgers uniform. Since MLB teams will lose money because of COVID-19, it was unknown whether Betts would going to get the huge free agent deal people had thought he’d have before the pandemic.
Then, just hours before Los Angeles opened its season on July 23, Betts agreed to a 12-year, $365 million contract extension — the second-largest in MLB history. On top of the one-year deal he signed previously, he’ll be a Dodger until 2032 — his age 39 season — making him the cornerstone of a franchise already loaded with talent.
“I just love being here,” Betts said in a video call from Dodger Stadium after signing his deal. “I’m here to win some rings and bring championships back to LA.”
Alongside Betts is outfielder and first baseman Cody Bellinger, who emerged last season to hit 47 home runs and win the NL MVP award. The 2017 NL Rookie of the Year anchored a 2019 lineup that led the National League in runs per game and home runs. At 25 years old, Bellinger could remain one of the best players in the game for much of the 2020s.
It’s not just Bellinger and Betts; the Dodgers also have other quality players capable of being elite talents. Despite his playoff struggles, ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw is still an all-star and worthy of being the head of Los Angeles’ starting rotation. Kershaw has been on the NL all-star team in eight of the last nine seasons and won the 2014 NL MVP award. He’s also won three Cy Young Awards and finished in the top 10 for the award five other times.
Los Angeles’ starting rotation also includes Walker Buehler, a young budding star who Sports Illustrated compared to Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax in August last year. At 23 years old, Buehler has the chance to be one of the best pitchers in baseball for the next decade.
Also part of the Dodgers nucleus is infielder Max Muncy, who hit 70 home runs in 2018-19; third baseman Justin Turner, who’s become one of the best all-around hitters in MLB over the last few years, and pitcher Kenley Jansen, who’s been one of the most effective relievers in the sport for much of the last decade.
The Dodgers also have some of MLB’s best prospects. MLB.com ranked their farm system as the third-best in the league in March. Los Angeles has many top players in the minor leagues, including infielder Gavin Lux (ranked No. 2 on MLB.com’s top 100 prospects), pitchers Dustin May and Josiah Gray (Nos. 23 and 67, respectively), catcher Keibert Ruiz (No. 73) and pitcher Brusdar Graterol (No. 83). They could become key players for the Dodgers in the future or be traded to other teams for elite players, making Los Angeles even more formidable.
The duo of Bellinger and Betts may form the best Los Angeles pro sports tandem since Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant teamed up for the Lakers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Those Lakers won three consecutive rings from 2000-2002, and it’s plausible to see Bellinger and Betts — along with a talented core and an elite farm system — driving the Dodgers to their first championship since 1988 and potentially many more.
Contact Joshua Gingrich at email@example.com. For more coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.