Last June the Dodgers found themselves in last place, nine games out of first. The media had Don Mattingly on the Super Chief out of town and back home and was wondering how $200 million in payroll could result in such a dud of a team. Then all they did was go on a near-historic surge and win the NL West going away.
Fast forward to 11 days ago and the Dodgers were flailing again. They stood nine and a half games back of the Giants — who had the best record in baseball — and were once again subject to early obituaries in the press. Even Don Mattingly resumed his role as pessimist, telling reporters to ask the players why they stink because he didn’t know.
Since then, the Dodgers have won eight of 11. The Giants have lost eight of 11. In that time L.A. has gone from 9.5 games behind to 4 games back.
It’s like it’s Déjà Vu all over again.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.