The Los Angeles Dodgers reached their second consecutive World Series with what’s largely the same core that won the pennant one year ago. It was a predominantly homegrown group in 2016, and that hasn’t changed.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been some turnover – on the contrary, this year’s Dodgers have a lot of new faces. General manager Farhan Zaidi and president Andrew Friedman love to wheel and deal and they’ve used multiple trades to build a versatile, flexible, and deep roster capable of winning while deployed in any number of lineup combinations.
Zaidi and Friedman’s draft expertise is also clear on this roster, as some of the Dodgers’ brightest youngsters have stepped up and are playing significant roles. And that’s to say nothing of the large amounts of money spent on this squad when necessary.
Before Game 1 of the World Series gets going, here’s a look at how the NL champion Dodgers were built.
Note: This roster construction is based on the Dodgers’ active roster during the NLCS.
Pedro Baez (Jan. 22, 2007): The Dodgers signed Baez as a position player – he played third base – and then turned to pitching after struggling in the minors. He’s been a member of the Dodgers’ bullpen since 2014.
Cody Bellinger (June 7, 2013): Bellinger, son of former MLB player and four-time World Series champion Clay Bellinger, was the Dodgers’ fourth-round pick (124th overall) in the 2013 MLB Draft. Cody’s versatility – he splits his time between first base and all three outfield positions – has played a big role in Los Angeles’ back-to-back pennants, and he won the 2018 NLCS MVP.
Walker Buehler (June 8, 2015): Buehler was a 14th-round draft pick of the Pirates in 2012 but spurned them to attend Vanderbilt. The Dodgers chose him 24th overall three years later and this time he signed; barely three years on, he’s a burgeoning star.
Caleb Ferguson (June 7, 2014): Credit for Ferguson’s contributions goes to the Dodgers’ scouting department, who discovered and selected him with the 1,149th overall pick in the 2014 draft. The rookie left-hander appeared in 29 games (three starts) during the regular season and hasn’t allowed a run over three playoff innings.
Kenley Jansen (Nov. 17, 2004): Like his bullpen-mate Baez, Jansen initially signed with the Dodgers out of his native Curacao as a position player. After struggling as a catcher in the minors, he converted to pitching in 2009 and never looked back. Now one of baseball’s best closers, he re-signed with the Dodgers on a five-year, $80-million contract two years ago.
Clayton Kershaw (June 6, 2006): The Dodgers picked Kershaw, perhaps the best pitcher of his generation, seventh overall in the 2006 draft, several picks after notable names such as Greg Reynolds and Brad Lincoln. Right now he’s a career Dodger, though Kershaw can opt out of the final two years of his contract after the World Series.
Joc Pederson (June 8, 2010): The Palo Alto, Calif., native was an 11th-round draft choice of L.A. back in 2010 and he reached the majors four years later. Pederson’s been worth 7.5 bWAR during his career, the highest total of any 2010 Dodgers draft pick that signed with the team.
Yasiel Puig (June 29, 2012): “The Wild Horse” defected from Cuba seven years ago and then signed a seven-year, $42-million contract with the Dodgers to much fanfare. Since Puig reached the big leagues in 2013, Los Angeles has not missed the postseason.
Julio Urias (Aug. 17, 2012): One of the jewels of the Dodgers’ farm system, Urias – who rocketed through the minors and debuted in 2016 – lost almost two full years to shoulder surgery and only returned to action last month. He didn’t make the Division Series roster, but was added for the NLCS and got some critical outs against Milwaukee as a reliever.
Kenta Maeda (Jan. 7, 2016): Maeda inked an eight-year, $25-million deal with the Dodgers after starring for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan. He began his big-league career as a starter but has since transitioned into a swingman role and has worked exclusively out of the bullpen this postseason.
Max Muncy (April 28, 2017): The Dodgers signed Muncy off the scrap heap almost a month after he was released by Oakland. He spent all of last year at Triple-A Oklahoma City and went back there to start this season before the Dodgers finally called him up. Since then, all he’s done is become an indispensable piece of their offensive attack, participate in the Home Run Derby, and rank top five in OBP, slugging, and homers as one of the best stories in baseball this year.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (Dec. 9, 2012): Ryu was a superstar in his native Korea before signing a six-year, $36-million contract with Los Angeles. Though he’s battled a slew of injuries during the last four seasons, Ryu re-emerged as one of the Dodgers’ better starters in 2018.
Justin Turner (Feb. 6, 2014): Months after being non-tendered by the Mets in a transaction that was hardly noticed at the time, Turner inked a minor-league deal with his hometown team and quickly morphed into a star third baseman. Before the 2017 season, he re-signed with L.A. on a four-year, $64-million contract.
Austin Barnes, Enrique Hernandez (Dec. 11, 2014): The Dodgers acquired Barnes and Hernandez – both of whom have gone on to become key members of the team – as part of a large seven-player trade with the Miami Marlins. Barnes, Hernandez, Chris Hatcher, and Andrew Heaney went to L.A. for Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Miguel Rojas, and cash.
Brian Dozier (July 31, 2018): The Dodgers grabbed Dozier, a pending free agent, from the Twins minutes before this year’s non-waiver deadline in exchange for Logan Forsythe and prospects Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer. Dozier appeared in six games during the NLCS but started just once.
Dylan Floro (July 4, 2018): The Dodgers obtained Floro in 2017 after claiming him off waivers, but never called him up from Triple-A. He then joined the Reds in January, made their roster on a minor-league contract, and emerged as a quality reliever – so the Dodgers got him back by sending prospects James Marinan and Aneurys Zabala to Cincinnati for Floro, Zach Neal, and international bonus money.
David Freese (Aug. 31, 2018): Freese was picked up from the Pirates for infield prospect Jesus Valdez. He’s done nothing but hit in a Dodgers uniform, while working as part of a first-base platoon with Muncy.
Yasmani Grandal (Dec. 18, 2014): The San Diego Padres dealt Grandal, Zach Eflin, and Joe Weiland to Los Angeles for Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz, and cash. He’s been the Dodgers’ primary catcher ever since this trade was consummated.
Rich Hill (Aug. 1, 2016): Oakland traded Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers for Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton, and Frankie Montas. While Reddick eventually moved on to Houston, Hill – who, up to that point in his career, was a journeyman who’d pitched everywhere from Boise to Chicago to Long Island – stuck around, signing a three-year, $48-million deal with Los Angeles after the 2016 season.
Matt Kemp (Dec. 16, 2017): Almost three years to the day that they traded him, the Dodgers re-acquired Kemp in last winter’s shocking, luxury-tax related blockbuster. Los Angeles sent Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and cash to the Atlanta Braves for Kemp, who has another year left on the eight-year, $160-million contract that the Dodgers had signed him to back in 2011. In an even stranger twist, he’s now teammates in Los Angeles with Grandal, the player the Dodgers had initially traded him for.
Manny Machado (July 18, 2018): Shortly after he’d finished representing the Orioles at this year’s All-Star Game, Machado was acquired by the Dodgers for infielder Breyvic Valera and four prospects – Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, and Zach Pop. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end.
Ryan Madson (Aug. 31, 2018): Los Angeles acquired Madson, a veteran reliever who owns multiple World Series rings, from Washington for minor-league pitcher Andrew Istler. The Dodgers are Madson’s fifth team.
Chris Taylor (June 19, 2016): Los Angeles nabbed Taylor from the Seattle Mariners for Zach Lee in what’s turned into perhaps Friedman and Zaidi’s shrewdest and most lopsided trade. After emerging as an important member of the Dodgers and being named NLCS co-MVP last year, Taylor made what might have been the pennant-saving catch in Game 7 of this year’s NLCS.
Alex Wood (July 30, 2015): The Dodgers acquired Wood, who’s been pitching out of the bullpen this postseason, from Atlanta as part of a complicated 13-player, three-team trade that also included the Marlins. Wood, Bronson Arroyo, Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson, and Jose Peraza went from Atlanta to Los Angeles; Miami traded Mat Latos and Mike Morse to the Dodgers, and sent a competitive balance draft pick to the Braves; Los Angeles traded Hector Olivera, Paco Rodriguez, and Zachary Bird to the Braves, and shipped Victor Araujo, Kevin Guzman, and Jeff Brigham to the Marlins.