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Los Angeles Dodgers 2018: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Expert Insight

Corey Seager

Corey Seager

The past still looms large over a franchise that hasn’t won a World Series since 1988. But the future looks very bright for the Dodgers. The roster that won 104 games and posted the best record in baseball returns largely intact. The farm system that produced the past two National League Rookie of the Year winners (Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger) remains well-stocked with blue-chip prospects. And a deadwood-shucking December trade rid the Dodgers of three burdensome contracts (Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir), completing a three-year plan by Andrew Friedman to bring the payroll down to a more sustainable and flexible level.

The salary dump was the biggest move of a quiet offseason, bringing the Dodgers under the luxury-tax threshold for the first time since 2012 — and just in time to take advantage of a highly anticipated free-agent class next winter that could include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, Dallas Keuchel and their own ace, Clayton Kershaw, who has an opt-out clause in his contract.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the DODGERS

“This is still the team to beat. I don’t see anyone in the division closing the gap. Clayton Kershaw used more breaking balls than ever last year, which is smart — the trend to more curveballs around the league helps him, because umpires are calling it for strikes more often. The slider is an even better pitch for him — shorter and sharper — but that curveball just freezes guys. Rich Hill is masterful in the way he uses it, too, and with Alex Wood and that baffling, deceptive delivery, they’ve got a strong big three in the rotation. In the lineup, Yasiel Puig finally got his feet on the ground because he respects hitting coach Turner Ward. You can beat Cody Bellinger up in the strike zone, but he’s got tremendous power and bat speed and uses the whole field. I also like Austin Barnes, who won the catching job from Yasmani Grandal because he’s simply a better player and earned it. Barnes takes professional at-bats with surprising pop and gets the most from that staff.”

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Beyond the Box Score

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Four years after opening the regular season with a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia, the Dodgers will play a regular-season series against the San Diego Padres in Monterrey, Mexico. The three-game series in early May will be played at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey and count as Padres home games. It is the third MLB regular-season series to be played in Monterrey. The Dodgers have played spring exhibition games in Mexico City twice (1964 and 2003) and Monterrey once (1991).

Poached Personnel

 The Dodgers’ success earned them the Organization of the Year Award from Baseball America — and it also resulted in an exodus from their front office, as a handful of people left for new jobs with other teams. Former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos was hired as the Braves’ new GM after two years in the Dodgers’ front office. He took fellow Dodgers front office-mate Alex Tamin with him. Director of player development Gabe Kapler was hired as the Phillies’ new manager, and his top assistant, Jeremy Zoll, left to run the Twins’ farm system. Special assignment scout Aaron Sele left to join the Miami Marlins.

Staff shakeup

The Dodgers also made some minor changes to their MLB coaching staff for 2018. Assistant hitting coach Tim Hyers left to join new manager Alex Cora’s staff in Boston. Bullpen catcher Rob Flippo left to join former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly’s staff in Miami. Triple-A hitting coach Shawn Wooten’s contract was not renewed, and quality assurance coach Juan Castro took a job in Mexico. Brant Brown and Luis Ortiz were hired as assistant hitting coaches and will work with hitters at the major- and minor-league levels.

Century club

The Dodgers led the majors with 104 wins last season. They were one of three teams to win at least 100 games in 2017, joined by the Astros and Indians. It was the sixth time in MLB history that there were as many as three 100-win teams in the same season — and the first time that the New York Yankees weren’t one of them.

Projected Lineup

CF    Chris Taylor (R)
SS    Corey Seager (L)
3B    Justin Turner (R)
1B    Cody Bellinger (L)
RF    Yasiel Puig (R)
C    Austin Barnes (R)
LF    Andrew Toles (L)
2B    Logan Forsythe (R)
C    Yasmani Grandal (S)
UT    Enrique Hernandez (R)
OF     Joc Pederson (L)
OF    Alex Verdugo (L)
LHP    Clayton Kershaw
LHP    Rich Hill
LHP    Alex Wood
RHP    Kenta Maeda
LHP    Hyun-Jin Ryu
RHP    Kenley Jansen
RHP    Josh Fields
RHP    Tom Koehler
RHP    Pedro Baez
LHP    Scott Alexander
LHP    Tony Cingrani
RHP    Yimi Garcia
RHP    Ross Stripling