Capsules of National League West teams, listed in order of finish last year:
Los Angeles Dodgers
2020: 43-17, first place, World Series champions.
Manager: Dave Roberts (sixth season).
He’s Here: RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Tommy Kahnle, LHP Garrett Cleavinger, RHP Corey Knebel, 3B Sheldon Neuse, RHP Gus Varland.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Pedro Báez, INF/OF Enrique Hernández, LF Joc Pederson, RHP Dylan Floro, LHP Adam Kolarek, LHP Jake McGee, RHP Josh Sborz, LHP Alex Wood, OF Terrance Gore.
Projected Lineup: RF Mookie Betts (.292, 16 HRs, 39 RBIs), SS Corey Seager (.307, 15, 41), 3B Justin Turner (.307, 4, 23), CF Cody Bellinger (.239, 12, 30), C Will Smith (.289, 8, 25), 1B Max Muncy (.192, 12, 27) or Edwin Ríos (.250, 8, 17), LF A.J. Pollock (.276, 16, 34) or Chris Taylor (.270, 8, 32), 2B Gavin Lux (.175, 3, 8) or Taylor.
Rotation: RH Trevor Bauer (5-4, 1.73 ERA, 100 Ks, 2 shutouts, NL Cy Young Award with Reds), RH Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.44), LH Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16), LH David Price (opted out in 2020; 7-5, 4.28 in 2019 with Red Sox), LH Julio Urías (3-0, 3.27) or RH Dustin May (3-1, 2.57) or RH Tony Gonsolin (2-2, 2.31).
Key Relievers: RH Kenley Jansen (3-1, 3.33, 11/13 saves, 33 Ks in 24 1/3 IP), RH Brusdar Graterol (1-2, 3.09), RH Blake Treinen (3-3, 3.86), LH Víctor González (3-0, 1.33), RH Joe Kelly (0-0, 1.80), RH Tommy Kahnle (underwent Tommy John surgery with Yankees), RH Corey Knebel (0-0, 6.08 with Brewers).
Outlook: The roster boasts an enviable three MVPs and three Cy Young Award winners, making the Dodgers favourites to win a ninth straight NL West title, which would extend their franchise record. They open the season April 1 at Colorado, which starts a seven-game trip. They’ll celebrate their first World Series championship since 1988 in their home opener April 9 against Washington. It’s likely the team will be able to allow 25% capacity, or 11,000 fans, in attendance after local restrictions are eased. Price pitches for the Dodgers for the first time after opting out last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The club signed Bauer just before spring training, giving Los Angeles perhaps the best rotation in baseball and bulking up the staff for a full 162-game season after last year’s abbreviated 60-game campaign. Buehler, Kershaw and Bauer appear to be locks, with left-handers Price and Urías likely to fill out the rotation. However, Price has indicated he’s willing to do whatever is needed, including working out of the bullpen. He’s made 10 relief appearances in his career. The Dodgers shed some roster stalwarts in free agency, including Hernández, Pederson and Báez, and they re-signed Turner. The core offensive group returns, including Betts, Bellinger, Muncy and Seager, who was the NLCS and World Series MVP.
San Diego Padres
2020: 37-23, second place, lost to Dodgers in Division Series.
Manager: Jayce Tingler (second season).
He’s Here: RHP Yu Darvish, LHP Blake Snell, RHP Joe Musgrove, RHP Mark Melancon, 2B Kim Ha-seong, C Victor Caratini, RHP Keone Kela, INF/OF Brian O’Grady.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Kirby Yates, INF Greg Garcia, C Jason Castro, RHP Garrett Richards, 1B Mitch Moreland, RHP Luis Perdomo.
Projected Lineup: CF Trent Grisham (.251, 10 HRs, 26 RBIs), SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (.277, 17, 45), 3B Manny Machado (.304, 16, 47), 1B Eric Hosmer (.287, 9, 36), LF Tommy Pham (.211, 3, 12 in 31 games), RF Wil Myers (.288, 15, 40), 2B Jake Cronenworth (.285, 4, 20), C Austin Nola (.273, 7, 28 with Seattle and San Diego) or Victor Caratini (.241, 1, 16 with Cubs).
Rotation: RH Yu Darvish (8-3, 2.01 ERA with Cubs), LH Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 with Rays), RH Joe Musgrove (1-5, 3.86 with Pirates), RH Chris Paddack (4-5, 4.73), LH Adrian Morejon (2-2, 4.66).
Key Relievers: LH Drew Pomeranz (1-0, 1.45, 4 saves) RH Emilio Pagán (0-1, 4.50, 2 saves), RH Mark Melancon (2-1, 2.78, 11 saves with Atlanta), RH Keone Kela (0-0, 4.50 in 3 games with Pittsburgh), RH Pierce Johnson (3-1, 2.70), RH Dan Altavilla (2-3, 5.75, 1 save with Seattle and San Diego), RH Craig Stammen (4-2, 5.63), RH Tim Hill (3-0, 4.50), RH Austin Adams (0-0, 4.50 in 3 games).
Outlook: This will be one of the most-anticipated seasons in San Diego history. Anchored by a star-studded infield featuring Tatis and Machado, the Padres ended a 13-year playoff drought and won a first-round series against St. Louis last season before being swept out of the Division Series by the rival Dodgers, who went on to win the World Series. The electrifying Tatis signed the longest contract in MLB history during spring training, a 14-year, $340 million deal. Tatis has hit full-blown superstar status on and off the field, including being selected as the cover athlete for the video game MLB The Show 21. The cover shows Tatis doing a bat flip after one of his two homers in Game 2 against the Cardinals. At 22, he’s the youngest player chosen for the cover. After running out of starting pitching in the playoffs and then losing Mike Clevinger to Tommy John surgery, general manager A.J. Preller quickly rebuilt the rotation with a flurry of blockbuster trades after Christmas that landed Darvish, Snell and local product Musgrove. It doesn't appear Dinelson Lamet, who missed the playoffs with an arm injury, will be ready for the start of the season. He finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting. Last year’s opening day starter, Paddack, is looking for a bounce-back season. Fans will be eager to see how Kim, a slugger from South Korea, fits into the mix at second base, where Cronenworth played well enough to tie for second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting. The Padres hadn’t settled on a closer yet. Among the candidates were Pomeranz, Pagán, Melancon and Kela. Pham was stabbed during an altercation in a strip club parking lot in mid-October and required 200 stitches. San Diego re-signed Jurickson Profar, who played five positions last season.
San Francisco Giants
2020: 29-31, third place.
Manager: Gabe Kapler (second season).
He’s Here: C Buster Posey, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Anthony DeSclafani, RHP Aaron Sanchez, 2B Tommy La Stella, OF LaMonte Wade, LHP Jose Alvarez, RHP Dedniel Nunez, LHP Scott Kazmir, C Curt Casali.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Trevor Cahill, LHP Drew Smyly, LHP Tony Watson, RHP Sam Coonrod, LHP Andrew Suarez, RHP Shaun Anderson.
Projected Lineup: 3B Tommy La Stella (.281, 5 HRs, 25 RBIs with Angels and Athletics), RF Mike Yastrzemski (.297, 10, 35), 2B Donovan Solano (.326, 3, 29), LF Alex Dickerson (.298, 10, 27), C Buster Posey (sat out last season; .257, 7, 38 in 2019), 1B Brandon Belt (.309, 9, 30), SS Brandon Crawford (.256, 8, 28), CF Mauricio Dubon (.274, 4, 19).
Rotation: RH Kevin Gausman (3-3, 2.62 ERA), RH Johnny Cueto (2-3, 5.40), RH Anthony DeSclafani (1-2, 7.22 for Reds), RH Aaron Sanchez (5-14, 5.89 in 2019 for Blue Jays and Astros), LH Alex Wood (0-1, 6.39 for Dodgers).
Key Relievers: LH Jake McGee (3-1, 2.66), RH Matt Wisler (0-1, 1.07, 1 save), LH Jarlin Garcia (2-1, 0.49), LH Jose Alvarez (0-0, 1.42), RH Tyler Rogers (3-3, 4.50, 3 saves), RH Reyes Moronta (3-7, 2.86 in 2019), RH Dedniel Nunez (5-4, 4.39 at Class A in 2019 for Mets organization).
Outlook: The Giants finished one game out of a spot in the expanded playoffs during Kapler’s first season after replacing Bruce Bochy, who retired. The offence took a major step forward by scoring 4.98 runs per game, most for the Giants since Barry Bonds’ final MVP season in 2004. Alterations to their stadium led to a big scoring spree, with the Giants increasing their output by 2.1 runs per game at home. San Francisco didn’t make any major moves this off-season but will get Posey back behind the plate after he opted out of the 2020 season. The Giants hope the time off has helped Posey heal from injuries and regain the power stroke that was missing from 2018-19. San Francisco re-signed Gausman after a solid 2020 season and added Wood, DeSclafani and Sanchez to bolster the rotation. La Stella provides an upgrade as a utility player who should get time at third and second base. But the Giants have a lot of work ahead to catch the Padres and Dodgers in the NL West. The Giants were still waiting for approval from the city for fans but hope to be able to begin the season with 20% capacity.
2020: 26-34, fourth place.
Manager: Bud Black (fifth season).
Here’s Here: LHP Austin Gomber, RHP Robert Stephenson, 1B C.J. Cron, 1B Greg Bird.
He’s Outta Here: 3B Nolan Arenado, OF David Dahl, INF Daniel Murphy, OF Kevin Pillar, DH/OF Matt Kemp, RHP Jeff Hoffman, C Tony Wolters, OF Ian Desmond (opted out).
Projected Lineup: LF Raimel Tapia (.321, 1 HR, 17 RBIs), 2B Brendan Rodgers (.095, 0, 2 in 21 plate appearances) or Garrett Hampson (.234, 5, 11), RF Charlie Blackmon (.303, 6, 42, 21 multi-hit games), SS Trevor Story (.289, 11, 28, 15 SBs), 3B Ryan McMahon (.215, 9, 26), 1B Josh Fuentes (.306, 2, 17) or C.J. Cron (.190, 4, 8 with Detroit) or Bird (did not play last season), CF Sam Hilliard (.210, 6, 10), C Elias Diaz (.235, 2, 9).
Rotation: RH Germán Márquez (4-6, 3.75 ERA, 81 2/3 IP), LH Kyle Freeland (2-3, 4.33), RH Jon Gray (2-4, 6.69 in 8 starts), LH Austin Gomber (1-1, 1.86 in 14 games for St. Louis), RH Antonio Senzatela (5-3, 3.44 in 73 1/3 IP).
Key Relievers: RH Daniel Bard (4-2, 3.65, 6/6 saves), RH Scott Oberg (missed 2020 with blood clot in pitching arm), RH Mychal Givens (1-1, 3.63 with Baltimore and Colorado), RH Carlos Estévez (1-3, 7.50 in 26 games), RH Jairo Díaz (1-2, 7.65), RH Yency Almonte (3-0, 2.93), RH Robert Stephenson (0-0, 9.90 in 10 games for Cincinnati).
Outlook: The Rockies angered their fan base by trading Arenado to St. Louis. The eight-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star forced his way out of the Mile High City by sticking to his request to be dealt. He was sent to the Cardinals for Gomber and four minor leaguers in a deal that may have an impact on keeping Story in town. The two-time All-Star can become a free agent after this season. Colorado also had Desmond opt out for a second consecutive season due to coronavirus concerns. A strength of the Rockies may not be their bats, but their arms, with a rotation of Márquez, Senzatela, Gray, Freeland and Gomber. The Rockies made the playoffs in 2017 and ’18, but slid back in ’19 with a 91-loss campaign and missed the post-season again in ’20. They open the season by hosting the World Series champion Dodgers on April 1. The state recently approved Coors Field for a 42.6% capacity variance starting opening day, which means roughly 21,363 fans.
2020: 25-35, fifth place.
Manager: Torey Lovullo (fifth season).
He’s Here: RHP Joakim Soria, RHP Chris Devenski, INF Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Tyler Clippard.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Junior Guerra, RHP Hector Rondon, OF Jon Jay, RHP Mike Leake.
Projected Lineup: RF Kole Calhoun (.226, 16 HRs, 40 RBIs), CF Ketel Marte (.287, 2, 17), 3B Eduardo Escobar (.212, 4, 20), 1B Christian Walker (.271, 7, 34, 18 doubles), LF David Peralta (.300, 5, 34), 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (.242, 8, 31 with Nationals), C Carson Kelly (.221, 5, 19), SS Nick Ahmed (.266, 5, 29).
Rotation: RH Zac Gallen (3-2, 2.75 ERA), LH Madison Bumgarner (1-4, 6.48), RH Merrill Kelly (3-2, 2.59), RH Luke Weaver (1-9, 6.58), LH Caleb Smith (0-0, 2.57 with Marlins and Diamondbacks).
Key Relievers: RH Joakim Soria (2-2, 2.82, 2 saves with Athletics), RH Tyler Clippard (2-1, 2.77 with Twins), RH Stefan Crichton (2-2, 2.42), RH Taylor Widener (0-1, 4.50), RH Chris Devenski (0-1, 14.73 with Astros).
Outlook: The Diamondbacks decided to keep their roster largely intact despite a disappointing 2020. Arizona is hoping for several bounce-back seasons at the plate from guys like Escobar, Marte and Kelly. The D-backs are also optimistic that Bumgarner and Weaver will be better in the starting rotation after both had an ERA over 6.00 last year. Calhoun will likely miss the first few weeks of the season while recovering from knee surgery, opening the door for younger players like Tim Locastro or Pavin Smith to solidify a role in the outfield rotation. The addition of Cabrera gives Arizona added flexibility in the infield since he can play third, second or first. Gallen pitched like an ace for much of last season and finished ninth in NL Cy Young Award voting. The Diamondbacks hope veteran additions to the bullpen such as Soria, Clippard and Devenski can provide guidance for what otherwise will likely be a young group.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
The Associated Press