The Dodgers and San Francisco Giants met for the 10th time in 2022 on Monday night. The Dodgers won 8-2 to start a four-game streak without much sweat. When competitors play again on Tuesday, they will undoubtedly take the field at Oracle Park with different rosters for different reasons.
The Dodgers are the contenders, once again, qualifying for their 10th consecutive post-season appearance with the highest win percentage in the major tournaments. Giants are not. Winning 107 games and the Western National League title last season seemed like an amazing mirage. They are 18 1/2 a game behind the Dodgers with 59 left. There’s still a berth full of wild cards on hand – on Monday they finished 4 1/2 games off last – but the October deep round is unlikely.
How highly improbable? The front office in San Francisco is unlikely to turn into sell mode before the 3 p.m. trading deadline. The Dodgers occupy the other side. They buy, and they shop where the price is exorbitant.
The Dodgers are still interested in Juan Soto, the best player available of the summer, according to people familiar with the situation. Chicago Cubs All-Star Ian Happ is on the radar if the Washington citizens trade Sotos elsewhere. On the monument front, the Dodgers discussed right-hand start Pablo Lopez with the Miami Marlins.
Each player will represent a roster promotion without any glaring issues beyond the precarious closest situation they can solve internally for October. But the Dodgers don’t need to make a move. They can win the world championship as it is currently built. Working in a position of strength, they are once again poised to pounce on another player of all-star caliber to follow Rich Hill, Yoo Darvish, Manny Machado, Max Scherzer and Tria Turner on deadline deals in recent years.
It’s an enviable position for San Francisco. The giants have holes all over their menu. They are old. They don’t boast as much high-end talent as the Dodgers. Their farm system is, by all accounts, lagging behind. Therefore, they are expected to soon trade free agents with the contenders for the junior racers by Tuesday noon.
Former Outfielder and Dodger player, Joc Pederson, expects to be traded after forming the National League All-Star team last month. Carlos Rodon, the club’s other left-wing player, might as well. Veterans Brandon Bilt and Evan Longoria are also waiting for free agents who may end up wearing a different outfit by Wednesday.
The sale will let the Giants play in third place — finishing two years before the unexpected success of last season — before entering a crowded season expected with just $100 million in books for 2023.
It sits among the contenders in the Western National League San Diego Padres. AJ Preller, Padres’ head of baseball operations, is known for aggressive maneuvers. The trait became apparent again on Monday when he traded four young dropouts to Milwaukee Brewers for Josh Hader, perhaps the best in the big business.
They may not stop there. The Padres are one of the other two teams competing for Soto alongside St. Louis Cardinals. They have been linked to Happ and All-Star catcher Willson Contreras of the Cubs. Last summer, they almost outperformed the Dodgers in favor of Scherzer and Turner. The rumor mill doesn’t churn without Padres.
However, even if Soto lands in San Diego, the Dodgers will likely still be favorites to win the pennant. They are 12 games ahead of San Diego with a 100% chance of making it past the season, according to FanGraphs. Luker Buehler, Dustin May, Blake Trainen, Chris Taylor and Edwin Rios could all eventually join the team by the end of September. They are loaded and they are better than the 106-win club that finished behind the Giants last season.
Reverse franchise trails were clear on the field on Monday.
The Dodgers scored six runs in five against Logan Webb, one of the few Giants who haven’t held back this year. Andrew Heaney kept the Giants in one over four rounds on his second start on the injured list. James Ottman, the No. 9 hitter for the Dodgers, made it to base four times in his second career game. Will Smith hit two doubles. Homer Tria Turner and Max Muncie. Firepower overwhelmed the giants.
The clubs will meet three more times this week. They will have taken steps. One has eyes on October, and the other realizes that this is not the year.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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