After winning their first World Series championship in 32 years, the Dodgers will look to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000.
With most of the core from last year’s championship team returning -- and with the addition of 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer -- the Dodgers are the favorites to win the NL West for the ninth consecutive season. The Padres, who made a flurry of moves this offseason, project to be the top challengers in the division.
While the “championship hangover” has derailed plenty of teams in the past, the Dodgers believe they have the talent and motivation to rise above that. With workouts underway at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., it’s time to find out.
Let’s take a look at some key topics as the Dodgers get ready for the start of Spring Training.
Given the pandemic, how is Spring Training different this year?
It’ll certainly look different as players, coaches and staff members will all be required to wear masks and maintain distance. Trying to spread out workouts will surely be a challenge for the Dodgers and the rest of the teams, but one that is necessary at this point in the pandemic.
The roster sizes will be different, too. Teams usually have about 60 players in big league camp, but this year, they’ll be allowed to have 75 players. That will include players on the 40-man roster, non-roster invitees and rehabbing players. The reason the roster is bigger is because teams won’t be able to bring over prospects from Minor League camp, as they won’t be in the facility until the conclusion of big league camp.
There also won't be any split-squad games on the Cactus League schedule this spring.
When is the first Spring Training game?
Sunday, Feb. 28 against the A's.
New faces to know on the 40-man roster
RHP Trevor Bauer
LHP Garrett Cleavinger
RHP Tommy Kahnle
RHP Corey Knebel
LHP Alex Vesia
INF Sheldon Neuse
Who are some prospects to keep an eye on in camp?
Right-hander Josiah Gray, the No. 58 overall prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, will get a lot of attention this spring. While the Dodgers have seven big league starters on the 40-man roster, Gray has the ability to potentially make his debut at some point this season, if needed. He’ll likely start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City after spending all of last season at the alternate training site.
In addition to Gray, the Dodgers have plenty of top prospects in camp. Catcher Keibert Ruiz, the No. 57 overall prospect in baseball, is on the 40-man roster, so he’ll get plenty of opportunities this spring. Third baseman Kody Hoese (Los Angeles' No. 3 prospect), second baseman Michael Busch (No. 4), right-hander Bobby Miller (No. 7), infielder Jacob Amaya (No. 10) and outfielder DJ Peters (No. 11) will also be in camp.
Who’s injured heading into camp?
Kahnle and left-hander Caleb Ferguson will both be rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Kahnle, who signed a two-year deal with the Dodgers this offseason, could return later in the season. Ferguson will be out for the season.
Key position battles to watch
The Dodgers have seven big league pitchers on the 40-man roster and will need to figure out how their rotation will look heading into the season. Right-handers Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May seem to be the odd men out in the rotation, but they could stick around in the bullpen at the beginning of the season.
Infielder Gavin Lux will be a big name to watch this spring. The former top prospect is looking to establish himself at the big league level, and with Enrique Hernández now with the Red Sox, Lux has a chance to get more playing time at second base. The same applies to Zach McKinstry, who has good defensive versatility. It’ll also be a big spring for first baseman Matt Beaty, third baseman Edwin Ríos, Peters and outfielder Luke Raley.
When is Opening Day? And against who?
Thursday, April 1 at the Rockies.