The Dodgers and San Francisco Giants met for the 10th time in 2022 on Monday night. The Dodgers won 8-2 to start a four-game hitting streak without much of a sweat. When the opponents play again on Tuesday, they will undoubtedly take the field at Oracle Park with different rosters for different reasons.
The Dodgers are in contention, once again, for the 10th consecutive postseason appearance with the highest winning percentage in the major leagues. The Giants are not. Last season’s 107 game win and National League West title appears to have been a stunning mirage. They are 18 1/2 games behind the Dodgers with 59 remaining. A wild-card berth remains within reach — they finished Monday 4 1/2 games out of the final spot — but a deep October run is unlikely.
How unlikely? San Francisco’s front office is unlikely to switch to sell mode before Tuesday’s trade deadline at 3 p.m. The Dodgers take the other side. They buy and shop where it’s expensive.
The Dodgers remain interested in Juan Soto, the summer’s best available player, according to people familiar with the situation. Chicago Cubs All-Star Ian Happ is on the radar if the Washington Nationals trade Soto elsewhere. On the pitching front, the Dodgers have held talks with the Miami Marlins for right-handed starter Pablo López.
Each player would represent an upgrade for a roster without any glaring issues beyond a difficult tight end situation they could resolve internally for October. But the Dodgers don’t need to make a move. They could win the World Series as it is now constructed. They’re operating in a position of strength, again poised to strike for another All-Star-caliber player to follow Rich Hill, Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner on deadline deals in recent years.
It’s a position that San Francisco envies. The Giants have holes everywhere on their roster. They are old. They don’t have as much top-level talent as the Dodgers. Their agricultural system, in every respect, is lagging behind. So they are expected to trade soon-to-be free agents to minor league prospects by Tuesday afternoon.
Outfielder and former Dodger Joc Pederson expects to be traded after making the National League All-Star team last month. Left-hander Carlos Rodón, the club’s other All-Star, might be. Veterans Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria are also pending free agents who could end up wearing different uniforms by Wednesday.
A sale would leave the Giants playing for third place — where they finished the two years prior to last season’s windfall — before entering an expected busy offseason with just $100 million on the books for 2023.
Among the opponents in the NL West standings are the San Diego Padres. AJ Preller, the Padres’ president of baseball operations, is known for offensive maneuvers. The trait was on display again Monday when he traded four minor leaguers to the Milwaukee Brewers for Josh Hader, perhaps the best closer in the majors.
They may not stop there. The Padres are one of two other teams vying for Soto along with the St. Louis Cardinals. They have been linked to Happ and Cubs All-Star Catcher Willson Contreras. Last summer, they almost beat the Dodgers for Scherzer and Turner. Rumors don’t swirl without the Padres.
And yet, even if Soto lands in San Diego, the Dodgers would likely remain favorites to win the pennant. They are 12 games ahead of San Diego with a 100 percent chance of making the postseason, according to FanGraphs. Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Blake Treinen, Chris Taylor and Edwin Ríos could finally rejoin the team by late September. They are loaded and better than the 106-win club that finished one game behind the Giants last season.
Reverse franchise trajectories were evident on the field Monday.
The Dodgers scored six runs in five against Logan Webb, one of the few Giants who hasn’t retired this year. Andrew Heaney held the Giants to one run over four innings in his second start on the injured list. James Outman, the Dodgers’ No. 9 hitter, reached base four times in his second career game. Will Smith hit two doubles. Trea Turner and Max Muncy homered. The firepower overwhelmed the Giants.
The clubs will meet three more times this week. They will have made moves. One with eyes on October, the other recognizing that it is not the year.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.