With free agency underway, the offseason is going to pick up steam. What are the big questions facing all 30 teams?
We now turn to the NL West, where the Dodgers have a streak of consecutive titles going while the rest of the division ponders how to catch them.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Will they deviate?
2019 record: 106-56
2020 World Series odds: 5-1
The Dodgers have built a sustainable powerhouse largely through discipline. They excel in player development, focus on versatility, navigate toward youth and steer clear of the mega-contract. It's an approach that has helped them win a major league-best 485 regular-season games since 2015 and has kept them on a path for continued dominance. The Dodgers could do nothing this offseason -- literally nothing -- and still field a roster capable of winning 90-plus games and capturing an eighth consecutive division title in 2020.
But, alas, that is not the ultimate goal.
The Dodgers are still in search of their first championship since 1988. They followed back-to-back World Series losses with a 106-win season in 2019, then suffered a gut-wrenching first-round elimination at the hands of the Washington Nationals. Now the Dodgers must ask themselves: Is their October misfortune the result of postseason randomness or do they need to construct their roster differently? Their depth is unparalleled, but do they need more high-end talent?
It would be overly simplistic to say they should just go after Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon. Cole fills their need for another top-of-the-rotation starter, but Andrew Friedman's Dodgers don't hand out nine-figure contracts to players nearing 30. Rendon is said to be interested in a short-term deal with a higher average annual value, which would be more appealing to Friedman. But the more likely route is the trade market. The Dodgers have the organizational depth to acquire virtually any player they choose, and they have shown a knack for creativity.
There's no telling what they'll do, but it seems as if a major shakeup could take place. -- Alden Gonzalez
Arizona Diamondbacks: Are they ready to make a play for the crown?
2019 record: 85-77
2020 World Series odds: 60-1
Finishing above .500 again and earning a (distant) second-place finish in the division was a nice accomplishment for GM Mike Hazen in a season when he traded away both Paul Goldschmidt (before) and Zack Greinke (during). Three years in from inheriting an expensive mess, Arizona has never had a losing season on Hazen's watch, and has the makings of a serious contender.
Whether or not Ketel Marte is the star the Diamondbacks can build around, his club-friendly extension through 2022 (with options for 2023 and 2024) makes it both an affordable proposition and something that gives them some freedom to hunt big game if they want to invest in a bid to win. Even after the Greinke trade, they've assembled a rotation they could win with, although 30-plus starts from Luke Weaver and a big season from Robbie Ray in his walk year, would put an exclamation point on the idea.
As a result, even with a stack of arbitration cases to deal with, Hazen could make some noise this winter. Whether that's aiming to get a bat from the top end of the market or settling for a veteran addition or two like last winter's signing of Adam Jones will tell us everything about how the D-backs see themselves. -- Christina Kahrl
San Francisco Giants: Will this be an all-out rebuild?
2019 record: 77-85
2020 World Series odds: 200-1
The Giants began July with 16 wins in their first 19 games, cutting their wild-card deficit to two games with the trade deadline only eight days away. It was perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to Farhan Zaidi, at that point only eight months into his role as president of baseball operations. The Giants were a fading team, their hot stretch notwithstanding, but Zaidi was new to a demanding market, with a Hall of Fame manager still in place. He couldn't justify stripping the roster to shed salary and load up on prospects; instead, he kept most of the core group intact.
Zaidi now has a full year under his belt. He has his hand-picked manager, Gabe Kapler, and an entire season of proof that the Giants need, at the very least, a major retooling. Zaidi has shied away from the term "rebuild" when talking about his approach with this team, but his actions will tell the story. Will he let longtime ace Madison Bumgarner walk or try to re-sign him for a rotation with a clear need? Will he look to trade veterans such as Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, or try to put pieces around them?
The Giants have an aging roster, a top-heavy payroll and a clear need to build for the future. But this is a franchise that claimed three World Series championships in the 2010s, coming off a season that featured the lowest attendance in Oracle Park's 20-year history. Zaidi has a tough balance to strike. -- Gonzalez
Colorado Rockies: How to fix the pitching staff?
2019 record: 71-91
2020 World Series odds: 100-1
For a team that won a wild card in 2017 and 2018 (losing the NL West to the Dodgers in a tiebreaker game), the Rockies enter the offseason with some big issues. The offense had just three regulars (plus the oft-injured David Dahl) post an OPS+ above league average. They finished fourth in the NL in runs but 13th in the NL in weighted runs created. The pitching may have been worse, even by Coors Field standards, as the Rockies allowed the most runs and ranked 12th in the NL in ERA+ and 14th in FanGraphs WAR.
The problem for GM Jeff Bridich: The Rockies are already almost right at their 2019 payroll level before any winter additions. Unless ownership spends more money -- the Rockies are about $38 million below the tax threshold -- the 2020 Rockies might look a lot like the 2019 Rockies. That means counting on Kyle Freeland to bounce back, the expensive but bad bullpen (Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw will make a combined $35.5 million) to pitch better, and somebody -- Peter Lambert? Jeff Hoffman? Chi Chi Gonzalez? -- to step up behind German Marquez, Jon Gray and Freeland in the rotation. Getting a proven starter to come to Colorado is almost impossible, and they've probably been scarred from those bullpen signings. So how about an outfielder who can hit better than Ian Desmond or Raimel Tapia? -- David Schoenfield
San Diego Padres: Can they become an instant contender?
2019 record: 70-92
2020 World Series odds: 50-1
The Padres stretched their budget to sign Eric Hosmer in February 2018, then really stretched it to sign Manny Machado 12 months later. Their top-ranked farm system has provided legitimate promise for the future, but the Padres don't appear to be patient. They spent nearly $450 million on two free agents in back-to-back offseasons, then placed Chris Paddack and Fernando Tatis Jr. on their 2019 opening day roster, eschewing the appeal of gaining an extra year of service time with two budding stars. Those are the moves made by a team that wants to win, like, now.
To do that, A.J. Preller, now in his sixth offseason as the Padres' general manager, has a lot of work ahead of him. He needs to acquire a proven, top-of-the-rotation starter to anchor an exceedingly young staff that will be headlined by Paddack and could eventually include rookies MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino. And he needs to rebuild an outfield that managed only a .740 OPS this past season. The free-agent market could yield an ace. (Did you know Stephen Strasburg is from San Diego?) But first, Preller might need to unload at least some of the $61 million remaining on Wil Myers' contract -- and then find a better replacement.
Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler, who hasn't been shy about his desire to win next season, recently talked to the San Diego Union-Tribune about how the organization has moved past the prospect evaluation stage and is now looking at its younger players as "currency." In other words, the Padres could once again be a fascinating, active team on the trade market. -- Gonzalez