During the offseason, the Dodgers gave big contracts to three of their own free agents: Rich Hill, Justin Turner, and Kenley Jansen. At the time, it seemed like the team would have to lose at least one of those high-priced players—what team in recent history has not had to pick and choose who to retain?—but then Hill signed his contract, Turner signed 18 days later, and Jansen signed 18 days after that. Ultimately, all the Dodgers had to prioritize was who to sign first.
It was an incredible flex of that Guggenheim money, though at a combined salary of $192 million over the next 4–5 years, the trio fits well into the Dodgers’ broad allocation of reasonable contracts.
We saw that same flex last night, as if the Dodgers were bragging about what exactly they could, and did, do that others couldn’t. First came Hill, gliding through five innings with a three-hit, one-run, eight-strikeout gem. He was on, and he knew it.
After three innings deadlocked at one run apiece, Jansen came in for the top of the ninth, shutting the Cubs out after four batters.
What Justin Turner did in the bottom of the ninth is precisely what the Dodgers would want, and maybe could expect from the guy batting .429/.500/.714/1.214 this postseason. He shot one straight out of the park, walking off Game 2 to the sound of a 165-decibel (roughly) Dodger Stadium, greeting his teammates at home plate in front of Vin Scully and God and everyone.
You have to imagine Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi looking at each other, smirking, sharing a silent appreciation of buying a game through free agency.
They’re able to do so because the Dodgers are not solely a team built through free agents, or built through homegrown players, or anchored around international players. They are all of the above. They have Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager and Kiké Hernandez playing for nothing and they’re maximizing the value of their big-money men. They are, I would say, underpaying most of the active players on payroll. And while it’s common for a team to buy a good start, or a great bat, a whole damn system, top-to-bottom, for a 4-1 victory in a repeat NLCS appearance is absolutely priceless.
It’s the perfect embodiment of what the Dodgers can do that other clubs can’t: Give out enough money to keep the players satisfied, promise a win-now culture on a really fun team, and build out enough pieces to make that a reality. The Dodgers are gliding through the postseason totally unshakeable. And why would they be, when they can line ‘em up with the best players available?