GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There aren't many ways to significantly improve a 106-win team during an offseason, but the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled it off this week by acquiring Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox days before spring training.
The move, though not executed as smoothly the Dodgers hoped, was a booming conclusion to what had been a slow winter. It excited Los Angeles, riled up New England, and resonated in Las Vegas. Already the favorites to claim their third National League pennant in four years before the swap, they are now the overwhelming frontrunners. Not winning an eighth straight National League West title would qualify as a disaster. The gulf between them and their divisional opponents is not small.
While this is probably the best team Andrew Friedman has assembled since he took over as the Dodgers' president of baseball operations in October 2014, the start of spring training does not equal the end of a club's ability to improve its roster. The Dodgers have until the July 31 trade deadline to make substantial changes. They have often patched holes or upgraded spots during the summer for their playoff push.
But the start of the postseason is nearly nine months away. There will be traps to evade and attrition to avoid during the slog. Games are not won on paper, and every club has questions heading into a season. The Dodgers are no different. They have several, and a few surfaced over the last week as they put the finishing touches on their offseason more publicly than they had hoped.
Question: How will the Dodgers proceed with Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling?
Answer: Last week, word leaked that the Dodgers had agreed to trade Pederson and Stripling to the Angels. The agreement was contingent on the first variation of the deal the Dodgers struck with the Red Sox to acquire Betts and Price, which was all but done. Until it wasn't.
The deal fell through over the weekend as the Dodgers and Red Sox agreed to another trade, leaving an awkward situation for the Dodgers to clean up. Pederson and Stripling, unsure of their futures last week, are still Dodgers and were at the team's spring training facility Thursday.
Friedman and manager Dave Roberts have maintained both players are happy and will help the Dodgers in 2020. Roberts said Pederson will play left field against right-handed pitchers. Stripling is expected to compete for a spot in the starting rotation. It's a messy episode the Dodgers want to leave behind.
"I felt for the players, guys that we had, guys that we didn't have, how it played out," Roberts said. "But the good thing was I knew that these guys wanted ultimately to be here. So there really isn't any damage control per se."
Q: Where does Brusdar Graterol fit?