Are the Dodgers the NL team to beat after adding Manny Machado?

Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor

The Manny Machado trade watch finally came to an end Wednesday. As Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reported, the Los Angeles Dodgers officially acquired the four-time All-Star from the Baltimore Orioles in a deal that could shift the NL’s balance of power back to California.

The Dodgers were able to meet the Orioles’ lofty asking price, parting with five prospects to get the deal completed. There were reported medical hurdles involved too, but when the dust finally settled the Dodgers got their man.

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It’s the second straight year Los Angeles has dealt for the biggest name on the trade market. At the July 31 deadline last season, the Dodgers pulled off a buzzer-beating trade to land pitcher Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers. That deal helped get the Dodgers to the World Series, where they ultimately lost in seven games to the Houston Astros.

Like Darvish, Machado will be a mere two-month rental. The Dodgers are so close to the luxury tax threshold already that they wouldn’t be able to afford Machado in free agency this winter without making other big moves. It’s an all-in move for 2018.

Now the questions become: Does adding Manny Machado make the Dodgers the National League team to beat again this season? Or better yet, will it boost them to the franchise’s first World Series championship since 1988?

Let’s take a closer look.

How good were the Dodgers before adding Manny Machado?

The Dodgers certainly didn’t look like the National League’s best team in April and May. In fact, they were barely the fourth best team in the NL West during that time. It wasn’t until June 10 that they finally passed the .500 mark. Since then, they’ve looked more like the contenders we expected them to be coming into 2018, but still clearly need another piece to boost them back atop the NL.

Injuries were a big part of the Dodgers problems slow start. Justin Turner missed the first six weeks with a broken wrist. Corey Seager played 26 games before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Clayton Kershaw has missed nearly two months with back issues. Now Yasiel Puig is out with an oblique strain. Obviously Seager isn’t coming back, but with better health this team was starting to look pretty good. With Machado and potentially better health coming down the line, they could be scary good.

How does acquiring Manny Machado help the Dodgers?

Machado is arguably the second best player in MLB right now behind Mike Trout. The 26-year-old is an offensive force, and has remained productive this season despite being the focus of relentless trade rumors. Machado entered the All-Star break hitting .315/.387/.575 with 24 homers in 413 plate appearances.

From a production standpoint, adding Machado will further boost the Dodgers’ top 10 offense in runs scored and home runs. Where it might help them most though is that it blocked another National League contender from possibly acquiring him. Both the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers were reported to be finalists in the Machado sweepstakes. Either team could have easily vaulted to the top of the NL had they acquired Machado.

How could acquiring Manny Machado hurt the Dodgers?

There could be some concerns surrounding Machado defensively. According to most advanced defensive metrics, he’s graded poorly since moving to shortstop this season. He was a two-time Gold Glove winner as a third baseman, but his heart is set on playing shortstop during the next stage of his career. Shortstop is where the Dodgers figure to use him mostly, and they might have to sacrifice a bit defensively for the upgrade Machado brings offensively.

Manny Machado poses with new Dodgers teammate Matt Kemp during the All-Star Game. (AP)
Manny Machado poses with new Dodgers teammate Matt Kemp during the All-Star Game. (AP)

Which NL teams could give the Dodgers problems?

The Dodgers have split the last two NLCS with the Chicago Cubs. As it stands now, Chicago figures to be their No. 1 nemesis again. Joe Maddon’s squad has a deep lineup as well, but will probably need an upgrade or two to the pitching staff to solidify their standing.

The Phillies and Brewers were reportedly aggressive on Machado. They were already teams to be taken seriously. Now they can possibly use their Machado prospects to add two or three more players to the mix.

What are the Dodgers’ current World Series odds?

According to Bovada, the Dodgers are now the class of the NL. They still have a ways to go though to catch the American League’s elite trio consisting of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and reigning World Series champion Houston Astros.

Machado is clearly the biggest addition the Dodgers could have made right now. Maybe they’ll have one more big move up their sleeves to take them to the next level.

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