On Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly signed first baseman Freddie Freeman to a six-year deal worth $162 million. Freeman's decision to join L.A. comes just days after his old team, the Atlanta Braves, acquired Matt Olson (from the Oakland Athletics) and signed him to an eight-year extension. As the old saying goes, one team's gain can beget another team's gain.
You might be wondering, just what is the Dodgers lineup going to look like now -- and how good might it be?
We'll address the first question in a minute, but it's important to note the Dodgers already had an excellent offense. Last season, they ranked fourth in the majors in runs scored and seventh in FanGraphs' wRC+, a catch-all metric that adjusts for ballpark, among other pesky variables. Freeman is a sizable addition, though it's worth noting that his overall offensive output last season (at least as judged by the aforementioned wRC+) was lower than Corey Seager's, who the Dodgers lost to the Texas Rangers in free agency. That doesn't mean Seager will continue to outhit Freeman, of course.
Whether or not Freeman represents an overall upgrade, the Dodgers should have a formidable offense -- and one that will include a designated hitter every day thanks to the new CBA. Here's a look at their projected starting nine, according to Roster Resource:
- Mookie Betts, RF
- Trea Turner, SS
- Freddie Freeman, 1B
- Justin Turner, 3B
- Max Muncy, DH
- Will Smith, C
- Chris Taylor, 2B
- Cody Bellinger, CF
- A.J. Pollock, LF
Every member of that lineup, save for Smith, has made an All-Star Game before. (And it won't be too much longer before Smith plays in a Midsummer Classic of his own.) What's more is that the Dodgers' lowest projected on-base percentage is .320; the lowest projected slugging percentage is .428. For reference's sake, that would've been the 12th highest on-base percentage among teams last season -- higher, even, than the world champion Braves -- and the eighth-highest slugging percentage.
The biggest knocks against that lineup are, what? That it has six right-handed batters? That it's questionable how much the Dodgers will receive from Muncy (because of injury) and Bellinger (because of a brutal 2021)? Most teams would be happy to have those as their top concerns heading into the spring.
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Meanwhile, an unmentioned aspect of the above Dodgers lineup is how it ignores their depth. Gavin Lux was one of the top prospects in baseball not long ago; his name would be written, with ink, into most teams' everyday lineups. Not here. He'll probably get reps at second base and in the outfield against right-handed pitching, but there are no scholarship situations to be found in Los Angeles.
Likewise, many teams would have reserved spots for Michael Busch and Miguel Vargas, two of the Dodgers' current top prospects who are nearing The Show. (New York Yankees, we're looking in your direction.) The Dodgers don't care; they'll figure out where they fit into the mix when the time comes. For now, it's all about acquiring as much talent as possible.
It's hard to knock that mindset. After all, it's led to the creation of what appears to be one of the best and deepest lineups in the sport.