Dodgers contenders again while Giants heading the wrong way

The Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants met Monday night for the tenth time in 2022. The Dodgers won 8-2 and started a four-game streak without breaking a sweat. When the rivals play again on Tuesday, they will no doubt take the field at Oracle Park with different squads for various reasons.

The Dodgers are once again contenders heading to their 10th straight postseason appearance with the highest win percentage in the major leagues. The giants are not. Winning 107 games and the National League West title last season seems like a stunning mirage. They are 18 1/2 games behind the Dodgers with 59 remaining. A wildcard spot remains within reach – they finished 4 1/2 games short of last place Monday – but a deep run in October is unlikely.

How unlikely? It’s unlikely enough that the San Francisco front office will reportedly switch to sell mode before the 3 p.m. Tuesday close. The Dodgers occupy the other side. They shop and they shop where it’s expensive.

The Dodgers remain interested in Juan Soto, the best available player of the summer, according to people in the know. Chicago Cubs All-Star Ian Happ is on the radar if the Washington Nationals trade Soto elsewhere. On the pitching front, the Dodgers have spoken to the Miami Marlins about right-handed starter Pablo López.

Each player would represent an upgrade for a roster with no glaring issues other than an awkward closer situation that they could resolve internally for October. But the Dodgers don’t have to do anything. They could win the World Series as it is currently being built. Operating in a position of strength, they are once again poised to pounce on another all-star who will follow Rich Hill, Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner in Deadline Deals in recent years.

It’s a position that San Francisco envies. The Giants have holes all over their roster. They are old. They don’t have nearly as much top-end talent as the Dodgers. Your farm system seems to be lagging behind. So, they are expected to be trading free agents for minor league contenders soon by Tuesday afternoon.

Outfielder and former Dodger Joc Pederson is expected to be traded after making the National League All-Star team last month. Left-hander Carlos Rodón, the club’s other All-Star, could be. Veterans Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria are also lined up as free agents, who could wear different uniforms through Wednesday.

Joc Pederson of the San Francisco Giants plays against the Dodgers.

Joc Pederson of the San Francisco Giants plays the Dodgers on July 21 at Dodger Stadium.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

A sale would see the Giants play for third place — where they finished the two years before last season’s unexpected success — before entering an anticipated busy offseason with just $100 million on the books for 2023.

Sitting between rivals in the NL West rankings are the San Diego Padres. AJ Preller, the president of the Padres’ baseball operations, is known for his aggressive maneuvering. The trait was demonstrated again Monday when he traded four minor leagues to the Milwaukee Brewers for Josh Hader, perhaps the best finish in the majors.

You couldn’t stop there. The Padres are one of the other two teams vying for Soto along with the St. Louis Cardinals. They have been linked to the Cubs’ Happ and All-Star catcher Willson Contreras. They almost beat the Dodgers for Scherzer and Turner last summer. The rumor mill doesn’t simmer without the Padres.

And yet, even if Soto lands in San Diego, the Dodgers would likely remain favorites to win the pennant. According to FanGraphs, they are 12 games ahead of San Diego and have a 100 percent chance of making the postseason. Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Blake Treinen, Chris Taylor and Edwin Ríos could eventually rejoin the team by the end of September. They’re loaded, and they’re better than the 106-win club that finished a game behind the Giants last season.

The reverse franchise trajectories were evident on the field Monday.

The Dodgers scored six runs in five against Logan Webb, one of the few Giants not to fall behind this year. Andrew Heaney held the Giants to a four-inning run in his second start off the injured list. Dodgers No. 9 James Outman 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 meet three more times this week. You will have made movements. One has October in view, the other realizes that this is not the year. Dodgers contenders again while Giants heading the wrong way

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