What are the Los Angeles Dodgers up to, or not up to, as the case may be? There has been a lot of rhetoric flying around in Southern California about the inability of the Dodgers to make a free-agent splash this winter or to pull off a blockbuster trade. It's gotten fairly venomous.
Let's leave aside the ephemeral issues of intent, discontent and all matters pondering who is mad at whom, and whether it's justified. Instead, let's just put on our Andrew Friedman hat and try to assess where the Dodgers are and where they should be. Let's begin with a glance at which teams have opened their wallets the widest while acknowledging that there remains a fair bit of free-agent spending still to come this winter.
Key: fWAR -- projected 2020 FanGraphs WAR; YRS -- total years committed to free agents; SAL -- total salaries committed to free agents, not including incentives; AAV -- average annual value of free-agent contracts signed.
Teams are ordered by their total commitment of free-agent dollars. The data comes from the free-agent tracker at FanGraphs, though I've filled in a couple of blanks based on reported signings not yet officially announced and worked in Davenport translations for players signed out of Japan and Korea. Players signed to minor league deals are not included.
According to the tracker, about 71% of projected 2020 WAR among free agents is off the market. Of the 47.3 WAR projected for players as yet unsigned, more than half (24.4) is accounted for by the 15 best players available: Josh Donaldson, Marcell Ozuna, Yasiel Puig, Brian Dozier, Alex Wood, Nicholas Castellanos, Todd Frazier, Kevin Pillar, Ivan Nova, Jason Kipnis, Wilmer Flores, Steven Souza Jr., Jhoulys Chacin, Addison Russell and Alex Gordon. Clearly, there are still opportunities for a slow-starting team to light a fire under its not-so-hot stove.
That team could be the Dodgers, if they so desired. The money is certainly there. Only the Yankees have a higher franchise value and a larger revenue base, according to the most recent reports on these things from Forbes. The Dodgers are in essence the Yankees of the West Coast and have been for a long time. Their attendance is robust, topping 3 million every season since 2001. Last season, that figure reached a franchise apex of 3.97 million. The Dodgers' local television contract is a monster. L.A.'s resources are as vast as any team's in the majors.
On the field, the Dodgers have been unassailably triumphant in recent seasons, with seven straight division titles and two pennants since 2013. Last season, the Dodgers won 106 games and posted the run differential of a 110-win team. They won the National League West by 21 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks. During their current seven-year streak of division crowns, the Dodgers have won 118 more games than any other team in the NL West. However you measure it, the Dodgers have been wildly successful.
The Dodgers have not, however, managed to end a franchise championship drought that began after the Tommy Lasorda/Kirk Gibson/Orel Hershiser Dodgers won it all in 1988. That, in a nutshell, is where the discontent stems from. The growing concern seems to be that the Dodgers are willing to do just enough to keep the turnstiles turning, but not quite enough to get over the ultimate hump. At least that's my take on what the beef is, because, to be frank, I don't quite understand the antipathy.