Editor’s note: This is the Monday, Dec. 28 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter from reporter J.P. Hoornstra. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

In the last 24 hours they have reportedly agreed on a trade for Blake Snell, reached the brink of acquiring Yu Darvish from the Cubs, and signed Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim.

Snell, a 28-year-old left-hander, memorably dominated the Dodgers for five innings in Game 6 of the World Series. He won the 2018 American League Cy Young Award. Now and for a little while longer, he’ll be seeing the Dodgers regularly in the National League West.

Darvish, a 34-year-old right-hander, finished second in NL Cy Young voting after the 2020 mini-season. If you want to read more about Darvish’s contributions in the final game of a World Series involving the Dodgers, click here.

Kim, 25, primarily played third base and shortstop in the KBO. He batted .306 with 30 home runs, 109 RBIs, 111 runs scored and 23 stolen bases this past season with Kiwoom.

It’s a whirlwind of action in a mostly barren offseason. From what we know, it makes the Padres a much better team.

We don’t know the return for Darvish. He is under contract through 2023. So is Snell. They join a San Diego rotation that looks pretty stable for the next three years:

      2021                    2022                 2023Blake Snell                Snell                 SnellYu Darvish               Darvish             DarvishDinelson Lamet*       Lamet                LametChris Paddack    Mike Clevinger       PaddackZach Davies**         Paddack            MorejonAdrian Morejon        Morejon               GoreMackenzie Gore         Gore               LucchesiJoey Lucchesi         Lucchesi       Ryan Weathers

*Lamet has a troubling history of elbow injuries and probably won’t throw a usual third starter’s complement of innings**Davies is reportedly going to Chicago in exchange for Darvish, so don’t write this in pen just yet.

It’s significant that Snell, Lucchesi, Morejon and Gore all throw left-handed, and are all pretty good. What does this mean for the Dodgers?

In the short run, it exacerbates the need to balance their left-handed heavy lineup. I wrote about this in my last newsletter. To review: Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux all hit left-handed. Right now, Edwin Rios projects as the starting third baseman. He bats left-handed, too. That’s five of the eight lineup spots occupied by a left-handed batter, plus Matt Beaty and Zach McKinstry on the bench. The Dodgers have two open spots on their 40-man roster. There are lots of ways to get that number to 40, and all of them involve adding one or two right-handed bats.

There isn’t much to update on that front. Justin Turner is reportedly seeking a three-year contract. He’s 36, and there is no guarantee the National League will allow designated hitters in the next three years, which will certainly make Turner more attractive to an AL team. DJ LeMahieu, 32, reportedly wants a five-year contract. Kiké Hernandez is drawing interest on the free-agent market from the Red Sox, in addition to the previously rumored Twins. Nolan Arenado seems to be a hot name in the Twittersphere, but I can think of 28 teams more likely to acquire Arenado than the Dodgers. (This was addressed in a previous newsletter, too.)

In the long run, that’s a pretty good Padres team. Their top seven starters are all 28 or younger. Oh, and they have Kim and seven other position players who project as everyday starters – Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth, Austin Nola, Trent Grisham, Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer – under contract for at least the next three seasons too. They’ll need all of those guys and more to challenge the Dodgers, but the Padres are in a rare position of stability. They finished 2020 with the third-best record in baseball, for whatever that’s worth. On paper at least, they’re in a good place.

The Dodgers swept the Padres in the most recent National League Division Series. All three games were close, and the series would have lasted longer if the Padres’ two best starters (Lamet and Clevinger) were pitching at full strength. The Padres will surely do more damage in the 2021 postseason, perhaps as a wild card team, but one the Dodgers won’t be able to count on like the free space on a Bingo card anymore.

Here’s a fun fact that explains a lot about the playoff baseball I watched during my formative years: From 1996-2010, every American League pennant went to the Red Sox or the Yankees, or the team that eliminated the Red Sox or the Yankees in the postseason. The pennant always went through Boston or the Bronx. If we’re saying the same about San Diego and Los Angeles in 20 years, I wouldn’t be surprised.

— J.P.

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By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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