LOS ANGELES -- In all three seasons with Dave Roberts at the helm, the Dodgers have shaken off a first-half speed bump to emerge as the division leader, and 2018 is no different.The Dodgers were nine games out of first place on May 8 and 10 games below .500 on
LOS ANGELES -- In all three seasons with Dave Roberts at the helm, the Dodgers have shaken off a first-half speed bump to emerge as the division leader, and 2018 is no different.
The Dodgers were nine games out of first place on May 8 and 10 games below .500 on May 16. But they finished the first half with a 37-16 surge and held a half-game lead in the National League West going into the All-Star break.
Current status: Buyer
With big-ticket item Manny Machado already acquired, the Dodgers are still buyers, but the payroll is just about maxed out, so it's time for bargain shopping.
What they are seeking
A year ago the Dodgers landed left-handed relievers Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson at the deadline. The need to improve the bullpen is even more acute this summer, but the payroll is tighter. They will probably get creative, throwing in a prospect or an unneeded salary to offset what they pick up.
What they have to offer
The Dodgers didn't trade any of their top three prospects for Machado, so they won't be moving Alex Verdugo, Keibert Ruiz or Mitchell White for a complementary reliever. After moving five young players for Machado, the system isn't as deep as a few days ago, but it's still plenty deep at catcher even beyond Ruiz, with high Draft picks Will Smith and Connor Wong, and this year's international coup, Diego Cartaya.
The best way to predict the Dodgers' front office is to expect the unexpected. Multiple-team trades, salary-swap deals, international signing pools -- it's all in the tool kit. They won't be afraid to move salary (Yasiel Puig? Alex Wood?) to gain financial flexibility, especially with surpluses in the outfield and starting rotation.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.