The Dodgers aren’t in first place in their division. And it’s not just that they’re further out of first than the Rockies and Giants. They’re further out of first in the NL West than the White Sox are in the AL Central. The Dodgers have sputtered, and the Diamondbacks have been hot, and that’s created a meaningful separation. A seven-game difference on the last day of April is nothing to sneeze at.
But I don’t think there’s been all that much worry, not yet. This morning, by our math, the Dodgers were still favored to finish in first. Certain little things have changed, sure, but remember that last year, the Dodgers had a stretch in which they lost 16 of 17 games, and they still finished with the best record in baseball. They won the NL West by a mile. The Dodgers are one of those teams you give the benefit of the doubt. If the roster isn’t too terribly different, you should expect that the team will find its own level.
Well, the roster is going to look terribly different:
Today, the Dodgers recalled Breyvic Valera from Triple-A Oklahoma City and placed Corey Seager on the 10-day DL with a right UCL sprain. Seager will undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 30, 2018
Corey Seager is done for 2018, having never fully recovered from the elbow problem that dogged him down the stretch. The team decided to try the rest-and-rehab plan, as opposed to sending Seager into surgery right away, but it didn’t work out. Justin Turner will be back sometime soon, sure. Yet Seager is among baseball’s very best shortstops. Enrique Hernandez is not. Breyvic Valera is not. Chris Taylor might now return to short for all I know, but that’s more shuffling than a solution. There’s no way to lose someone like Seager and not be a lot worse off for it. (Update: for now, looks like Taylor to short.)
Given how the Dodgers have always prioritized depth, I’m sure they’ll try to figure out a way to proceed via internal options. To his credit, Valera has seemingly learned how to hit, and maybe he can blossom out of nowhere. You don’t often see important trades this early anyway, so expect the Dodgers to stay as they are. But of course, one player looms, and that player would be Manny Machado. Machado is good, and the Orioles are bad. I don’t need to explain this to you. It’s not something that’ll happen tomorrow, but it’s something you’re likely to hear about more and more often as the season draws closer to June. Even if the Dodgers never engage in serious talks, writers are going to want them to, so the chatter will be there. It’s too obvious a link to leave alone.
Machado wouldn’t feel like a Dodgers-y move. Squeezing value out of Breyvic Valera or looking toward Alex Verdugo and/or Andrew Toles would feel like Dodgers-y moves. But then, these are special circumstances. The Dodgers are in a hole, and they’ve been substantially weakened. It’s going to be that much more difficult to make up lost ground.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.