Los Angeles Dodgers 2023 Season Preview

Los Angeles Dodgers 2023 Season Preview
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

After eight straight seasons as the National League West Division’s top team between 2013-2020 that culminated in its first World Series win since 1988, the Los Angeles Dodgers followed up with a second-place finish in 2021 and another division crown in 2022. But this year’s season preview is different for the Dodgers. There were big names and big dollars spent in the offseason, but the Dodgers rumors were not as prevalent this offseason as they were in previous seasons. Additionally, some mainstay veterans that Dodger fans are used to seeing are now on different teams.

Superstar shortstop Trea Turner left the Dodgers for the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. He signed with the Phillies for 11 years and $300 million. Former MVP Cody Bellinger is now on the Chicago Cubs. Bellinger signed for one year at $17.5 million. Fan favorite Justin Turner is on the Boston Red Sox. Turner signed for two years and $21.7 million with an opt-out after this season. Breakout starting pitcher Tyler Anderson left the Dodgers for the cross-town rival Los Angeles Angels. After 178 2/3 innings with a 2.57 ERA for the Dodgers, Anderson signed for $39 million over three years with the Angels.

Andrew Heaney turned a 3.10 ERA and 36% strikeout rate into a two-year $25 million deal with the Texas Rangers. Heaney’s deal also includes $12 million in incentives and an opt-out after this season. Tommy Kahnle missed 2020 and 2021 with injuries, threw 12 2/3 innings for the Dodgers, and then signed with the New York Yankees for two years and $11.5 million. Chris Martin brings his 34-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio to the Red Sox. Martin got a two-year $17.5 million deal with Boston. 

Free Agents the Dodgers Didn’t Sign this Offseason

Player Position Duration Salary AAV Team
Carlos Rodon CP Six Years $162M $27M New York Yankees
Jacob deGrom SP Five Years $185M $37M Texas Rangers
Justin Verlander SP Two Years & $35M Vesting Option for 2025 $86M $43M New York Mets
Trea Turner SS Eleven Years $300M $27.3M Philadelphia Phillies
Aaron Judge OF Nine Years $360M $40M New York Yankees
Xander Bogaerts SS Eleven Years $280M $25.5M San Diego Padres
Kodai Senga SP Five Years $75M $15M New York Mets
Dansby Swanson SS Seven Years $177M $25.3M Chicago Cubs
Carlos Correa SS Six Years & Four Years in Vesting Options totaling $70M $200M $33.3M Minnesota Twins
Average Annual Value (AAV) does not include options

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It’s obvious from the table above what position the Dodgers missed out most on during this offseason: shortstop. They lost Trea Turner to the Phillies and replaced him with Miguel Rojas, whom they traded Jacob Amaya to the Miami Marlins to acquire. This is not something Dodger fans are used to with the current ownership. Generally, the Dodgers acquire the top-name players. Perhaps the price tags for the shortstop free agents this offseason were too high. Swanson’s $25.3M is the least pricey average annual value (AAV) shortstops signed for this offseason – and they all signed long-term deals. Correa’s six years is the shortest contract but it also has four years in vesting options attached.

 

Dodgers Pass on Correa

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The Dodgers were rumored to avoid Carlos Correa because Dodger fans would not like him on the team. Dodger fans remember Correa for being a part of the 2017 World Championship Houston Astros club that admitted comprehensive sign stealing both during the season and playoffs. Astros players would bang on a trash can within their dugout to signal to the batter when a fastball was on the way. Some termed the Houston club the “Trashtros” for the scandal. The club used its video monitors and video replay room to aid in its cheating. Some Astros players, including Correa, were not particularly apologetic and no players received punishments. MLB suspended Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for a season, however. The Astros later terminated both men’s contracts.

 

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Alex Cora, bench coach for the Astros in 2017, had signed to be Boston’s manager after the World Series victory over the Dodgers. The Red Sox then won the 2018 World Series with Cora as a manager. It was later revealed that Cora used the phone in the Astros dugout in 2017 to call the replay room for information on opponents’ signs. This information also put the 2018 World Series in doubt. MLB suspended Cora for COVID-shortened 2020 but the Red Sox rehired him soon after. Hinch is currently managing the Detroit Tigers and Luhnow is not currently in MLB. Houston lost its 2020 and 2021 first and second-round picks and MLB fined the club $5 million for the scandal.

Players Leaving the Dodgers this Offseason

Player Position New Team
Trea Turner SS Philadelphia Phillies
Tyler Anderson SP Los Angeles Angels
Andrew Heaney SP Texas Rangers
Justin Turner 3B Boston Red Sox
Joey Gallo OF Minnesota Twins
Danny Duffy SP Texas Rangers
Chris Martin RP Boston Red Sox
Craig Kimbrel CP Philadelphia Phillies
Kevin Pillar OF Atlanta Braves
David Price RP Retired
Tommy Kahnle RP New York Yankees
Hanser Alberto 3B Chicago White Sox
Cody Bellinger OF Chicago Cubs
Edwin Rios 1B/3B Chicago Cubs

Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger were Dodger mainstays that left for free agency while Trea Turner was the superstar. The Dodgers need suitable replacements for these former Dodger fan favorites to have a chance at competing.

Introducing the 2023 Los Angeles Dodgers

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After being ousted from the 2022 playoffs at only the NLDS round for the first time since 2019, the Dodgers look to run the table this season. But they’ll have to do it without star power at the shortstop position. Additionally, the Dodgers lost starting pitchers Heaney and Anderson to free agency. In addition, the Dodgers released Trevor Bauer for violating an MLB policy for his role in a sex abuse scandal. You may be wondering who will replace Heaney and Anderson. Like Heaney and Anderson, the Dodgers found some pitchers looking to revitalize their careers, some are former starters who were relegated to relief roles recently.

First up in the 2023 Dodgers Season Preview is a number of updates from the offseason. The Dodgers have some new faces joining the team to go with the returning starters from 2022.

 

Thor Sighting in Los Angeles

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The Dodgers signed starting right-hander Noah Syndergaard for one year at a $13 million discount. Syndergaard looks to get his career back on track and sign for a larger deal after this season. In 2022, he split time between the Los Angeles Angels and Phillies. Syndergaard pitched to a combined 3.83 ERA, 1.255 WHIP, and career-low 6.3 K/9. His H/9 statistic was a disgusting 9.2. But Syndergaard maintained low HR/9 (0.9) and BB/9 (2.1) rates.

Shelby Miller Attempting to Bounce Back

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Another under-the-radar free-agent signing for the Dodgers this offseason was Shelby Miller for one year at $1.5 million. Miller was a standout on the St. Louis Cardinals in his rookie season, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2013. He was an All-Star in 2015 with the Atlanta Braves, throwing a career-high 205 1/3 innings with a 3.02 ERA and 1.247 WHIP. Miller opted out of the 2020 COVID season and has been a member of three clubs since that time: the Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, and San Francisco Giants. His ERAs have been rather ugly as well.

Miller, 32, posted a 9.24 combined ERA with the Cubs and Pirates in 2021. With the Giants in 2022, his ERA was not much better at 6.43. But in those two seasons, Miller only appeared in 17 games and did not start any of them. From 2018-2022, Miller has an 8.92 ERA in 41 games (12 started) and 79 2/3 innings.

 

All-Star Pitcher Alex Reyes Seeks to Regain Dominance with Dodgers

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What’s amazing about this signing is the contract. The Dodgers picked up an all-star reliever for only $1.1 million for one season with a $3 million team option for 2024 that may increase based on the number of relief appearances he makes in 2023. Alex Reyes, 28, was an All-Star in 2021, making 69 relief appearances in 72 1/3 innings and earning 29 saves. Reyes also pitched to a 3.24 ERA, a 1.355 WHIP, and struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings. In fact, Reyes is a strikeout machine when he’s healthy, owning a career 11.0 K/9.

Reyes does put a lot of men on base, however. His career H/9 is 6.1, BB/9 is 6.0, and WHIP is 1.345. That’s 12.1 batters per nine innings that either get a hit or earn a walk off Reyes. But the good news is that he does not give up a lot of home runs with a HR/9 rate of only 0.7 in his career.

Reyes has had problems staying healthy in his career. He missed all of 2017 with Tommy John Surgery. Then after rehabbing, Reyes was only able to make one MLB start before missing all of 2018 to surgery repairing a tendon in the upper right side of his back. He missed all of 2022 after having surgery for a frayed labrum in his throwing arm. If there was a face for an “injury prone” definition, Reyes has a good argument to become that face. In fact, he’s currently injured until mid-season. But when he’s healthy, batters hang their heads walking back to the dugout after striking out against him. Reyes is a perfect replacement for relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle and could perform much better, depending on his health.

Adam Kolarek Also Flies Under the Radar

Adam Kolarek is a former Dodger reliever that signed a minor-league deal to return this offseason. He may not be a name that turns heads to most Dodger fans, but he pitched well for the Dodgers in COVID-shortened 2020. He appeared in 20 games for the World Series champion Dodger team. Kolarek threw 19 innings and had a microscopic ERA of 0.95 and WHIP of 0.789. Contrary to other Dodgers relievers, Kolarek does not have a high strikeout rate. He’s only struck out 5.9 batters per nine innings in his career.

In addition, Kolarek gives up a lot of hits – 8.9 H/9 in his career. But during the 2020 season with the Dodgers, he only gave up 5.2 hits per nine innings. His walk rate is low, only walking 2.6 batters per nine innings in his career. In 2020, that number was 1.9. Kolarek also does not give up home runs. He owns a career 0.8 HR/9 rate. In 2018 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, Kolarek did not give up a single home run in the entire season in 34 1/3 innings. The Dodgers will welcome more of that in 2023.

 

Kershaw Returns to Dodgers in 2023

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Where would a Dodgers season preview be without future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw? Nowhere! Kershaw re-signed with the Dodgers this offseason for one year at $20 million. Kersh was selected for his 9th all-star nod in 2022. The three-time Cy Young Award winner and former MVP of the National League looks to help the Dodgers compete for a second World’s Championship with the club in 2023. Kershaw pitched to a 2.28 ERA and 0.942 WHIP in 126 1/3 innings for the Dodgers in 2022. His strikeout rate was at his career mark in 2022, which is 9.8 K/9. To add to those stellar numbers, the lefty only gave up 0.7 HR/9, which is also the same as his career mark.

2022 represents a sort of comeback for Kershaw as his 2021 numbers were great but not Kershaw-like. For the third time in his career and the second time since his rookie season, Kershaw’s ERA was above three in 2021. His other statistics were fairly in line with his career numbers, although he gave up more H/9 (7.6). His K/9 was the third-highest of his career at 10.7 and his WHIP was right in line with his career mark at 1.019. It would be amazing to see Kersh’s WHIP dip under one for his career (currently 1.001) and he can achieve that this season. Kershaw turned 35 on March 19.

Heyward a Candidate to Replace Bellinger

In yet another under-the-radar signing this offseason, the Dodgers invited veteran outfielder Jason Heyward, 33, to Dodgers spring training. Heyward made his name when he became an all-star rookie as a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2010. In 142 games in 2010, Heyward slashed .277/.393/.456 with an OPS of .849 and an OPS+ of 131. He was runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2010 but also finished 20th in the MVP voting that season. In the 12 seasons since his 2010 rookie breakout season, Heyward has only had an OPS over .800 twice: once in COVID-shortened 2020 and once in 2012. But he has five Gold Glove Awards to his credit and earned MVP votes in three separate seasons. Signing Heyward to a minor-league deal could turn out to be a huge steal for the Dodgers.

Nelson Elects Free Agency But Still Gets Re-Signed

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In a strange move, Dodgers pitcher Jimmy Nelson elected free agency after the 2022 season – only to be re-signed later in the offseason. The right-handed hurler signed with the Dodgers after the 2019 season, then missed all of 2020. Then he pitched well for the Dodgers in 2021: 1.86 ERA, 0.931 WHIP, and 13.7 K/9 before requiring Tommy John Surgery and flexor tendon repair. Now Nelson is back and hungry, but he’ll have to quell that appetite as he’ll begin the 2023 season on the Injured List. His 2023 spring training numbers were horrid: 15.43 ERA, 5.143 WHIP, and 42.4 BB/9. Those numbers are not typos – they are real. Nelson walked 11 batters in 2 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs in the process. His H/9 would be great at 3.9 if he were able to hit the strike zone at all this spring. But he’s returning from major injuries.

Martinez Looks to Bring Pop to DH and Possibly OF

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Designated Hitter JD Martinez, 35, is the largest name added to the Dodgers roster this offseason. Martinez brings his five all-star nods, three Silver Slugger Awards (including for two separate positions in the 2018 season), and MVP votes from three separate seasons. The Dodgers may have found another steal of a contract in JD Martinez at only $10 million for one season. Martinez has been an all-star in four of the past five seasons, including the past two consecutive seasons. He’s had an OPS of over 1.00 two separate times in his career and owns a career .872 OPS. Last season, Martinez slashed .274/.341/.448 with 16 home runs and an OPS of .790.

Martinez strikes out frequently. He averages 164 strikeouts per 162 games played. But he also averages 32 home runs, 39 doubles, two triples, 103 RBI, and 91 runs. The Dodgers would love to see some of that output while Martinez dons their uniform this season. His career batting average is .288.

 

Lux to Miss 2023 Season with Knee Injury

Dodgers second baseman and shortstop Gavin Lux will miss the entirety of the 2023 season after tearing both his ACL and LCL in his right knee. “I felt it kind of pop right away and the outside of my leg went numb,” said Lux after seemingly attempting to hold back tears. Lux added that he plans to “control what you can control, crush my rehab, and be ready for 2024.”

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The loss of Lux is a serious development for the 2023 Dodgers season. Lux was making a run at the starting shortstop position after the exit of superstar shortstop Trea Turner. 2023 could have been the season for Lux to make a jump to superstardom after not having a position of his own for his entire career – and he is a true shortstop who had been moved to second base and outfield due to being blocked on the roster. Now 2024 will be the comeback season for Lux, 25, who still has plenty of time left in his career to make the transition to superstardom, whether in 2024, 2025, or even sometime later.

Potential 2023 Dodgers Starting Lineup

Order Player Position
1 Mookie Betts RF
2 Freddie Freeman 1B
3 JD Martinez DH
4 Will Smith C
5 Max Muncy 3B
6 Trayce Thompson CF
7 Chris Taylor LF
8 Miguel Rojas SS
9 Miguel Vargas 2B
Potential 2023 Dodgers Starting Lineup

Potential 2023 Dodgers Starting Rotation

Order Player
1 Julio Urias
2 Clayton Kershaw
3 Noah Syndergaard
4 Dustin May
5 Ryan Pepiot
Walker Buehler had a second Tommy John Surgery in August 2022 and could miss the entire season while Tony Gonsolin also begins 2023 on the IL

Potential 2023 Dodgers Bullpen

Player
Alex Vesia
Daniel Hudson (Begins 2023 on IL)
Evan Phillips
Shelby Miller
Brusdar Graterol
Caleb Ferguson
Yency Almonte
Phil Bickford
Alex Reyes (injured until mid-season)
Jimmy Nelson
Blake Treinen (injured until late 2023 or Opening Day 2024)
Blake Treinen is recovering from labrum and rotator cuff surgery and was cleared to start a throwing program on 3/24/2023

Dodgers Players Injured for 2023 & Return Estimates

Player Position Injury Return
Gavin Lux SS Torn ACL and LCL in right knee Opening Day 2024
Walker Buehler SP Tommy John Surgery Opening Day 2024
Tony Gonsolin SP Left ankle sprain Late April or Early May (4 starts)
Daniel Hudson RP Right ankle tendonitis Late April or Early May
Blake Treinen RP Labrum and rotator cuff surgery Late 2023 or Opening Day 2024
JP Feyereisen RP Labrum and rotator cuff “cleanup” Late August or Early September
Alex Reyes RP Frayed labrum July or Early August

Dodgers 2023 Season Outlook

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While the Dodgers continue to miss some big-name players due to injury, much of their roster remains intact. The main issue for the Dodgers in the 2023 season is with pitching. With four relievers and two starters injured, there is some cause for concern. But the Dodgers still have seven healthy relievers – along with Jimmy Nelson who will have to regain his command prior to contributing. It’s obviously unknown to the Dodgers how long this will take Nelson. The Dodgers hope he will be ready in the first two months of the season.

With the injury to Gavin Lux, the Dodgers could have some trouble obtaining offense from the shortstop position. Trea Turner left a huge void for the Dodgers and Lux was hoping to fill it. Now that he is out for the season, the Dodgers will have to turn to Miguel Rojas. Rojas is a career .260/.314/.672 hitter and averages seven home runs, 24 doubles, and two triples with 46 RBI and 52 runs per 162 games. But he brings sound defensive skills to the table with above-average range and fielding percentage.

Then there’s another Miguel to discuss: Miguel Vargas. Vargas is still a rookie. In 2022 he slashed .170/.200/.255 with one home run, one double, one stolen base, and 8 RBI in 47 at-bats for the Dodgers. Vargas only played in 18 games in 2022, so it’s a very small sample size. But it’s not a very good one.

 

Will the Dodgers Win 100 Games in 2023?

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Pitching, second base, and shortstop are the three main potential issues the Dodgers may face during the 2023 season. The Dodgers are a resilient team and will need players to return from injury and produce in order to succeed in the season and into the playoffs. But it wouldn’t be very bright to say that the Dodgers aren’t going to win the division or go deep into the playoffs this season. After all, they only lost 51 games in 2022. Even with losing Trea Turner to free agency, it’s difficult to see them falling ridiculously far from the 111 wins in 2022.

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Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts has a career win-loss record of 653-380 (.632) while managing but hasn’t had a win-loss percentage under .654 since 2018 when the Dodgers won 92 games. Roberts led the Dodgers to 100+ wins in four separate seasons in his seven-year career and was without the possibility of attaining that feat during one of those seasons (COVID-shortened 2020). The other two seasons saw the Dodgers winning 91 and 92 games. Will they win 100 games or more in 2022? Time will tell, but time has shown that Roberts can accomplish that feat. At the very least, Dodger fans should expect 90 or more wins from the franchise in 2023, if not closer to 100.

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Chris Gray

Chris Gray

Chris is a writer, philosopher, and web developer. He is currently the Web Developer as well as an Editor and Contributor for SportRelay.

When Chris was young, he played Little League Baseball for years. In addition, he used to look at the statistics on baseball cards to compare the different players and trade the cards with his friends. As a teenager, he worked as a Computer Technician until he landed a position as a Network Administrator at a middle school in Los Angeles, California.

Feeling unfulfilled with a lack of education to combine with his work and life experience, he returned to school, obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from UCLA, and now spends his time writing, investing, thinking, programming, and enjoying baseball.

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