The Dodgers insisted their objective was to sign manager Dave Roberts to a long-term contract since their season ended in late October and were confident they would eventually strike a deal. There were other, more urgent, matters to tend to first. It was just a matter of time.
And on Monday, over a month after the team’s season ended with another World Series appearance with Roberts at the helm, the Dodgers crossed the priority off their offseason to-do list, announcing they signed the manager to a four-year deal. Terms were not disclosed. Roberts made $800,000 his first season, $900,000 his second year and $1 million last season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Roberts was already under contract for the 2019 season after the Dodgers picked up the $1.1-million team option on his previous contract in early November, which effectively extended the timeline to discuss a long-term agreement. The new pact runs through the 2022 season, giving Roberts an additional three years under contract in Los Angeles.
“When I was hired to lead this team three years ago, I said at the time that managing the Dodgers is truly the opportunity of a lifetime and I feel the exact same way today,” Roberts said in a team-issued statement. “We’ve worked hard to develop a team and culture that will put us in position to win the World Series every season, but we still have yet to achieve our ultimate goal and that is what drives me each day.”
Roberts, 46, stands to become the first person to manage the Dodgers for more than five seasons since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, who managed the club for two decades until the 1996 campaign. Of the next seven managers, only Jim Tracy and Don Mattingly reached a fifth season. None guided Los Angeles to the World Series.
The Dodgers’ World Series championship drought reached a 30th season in 2018, but Roberts’ tenure has been, by nearly every measure, a success. He has led the Dodgers to three straight National League West titles and two consecutive National League pennants — becoming the first Dodgers manager to achieve the feat since Lasorda in 1977 and 1978. He was named the NL Manager of the Year in 2016. He has managed the club to a .589 win percentage during the regular season and a 23-19 playoff record. His 287 regular-season victories are tied for fourth all-time among managers in their first three full seasons.
“Keeping Doc as our leader on the field was a top priority this offseason and now that we’ve accomplished that we are excited to collectively shift all of our focus to doing all we can to bring a World Championship to our passionate fans,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in the team-issued statement.
Roberts will return for his fourth season overseeing a very different coaching staff. He’ll have a new hitting coach (Robert Van Scoyoc), third-base coach (Dino Ebel), assistant hitting coach (Aaron Bates), and game-planning coach (Chris Gimenez). At the front-office level, the Dodgers lost general manager Farhan Zaidi to the San Francisco Giants. They haven’t hired a replacement, and there’s a good chance they won’t officially fill Zaidi’s role before the 2019 season.
As for the roster, the Dodgers’ most notable free agent is catcher Yasmani Grandal, who is expected to sign elsewhere. The club has re-signed Clayton Kershaw and David Freese, given Hyun-Jin Ryu a qualifying offer, and executed a couple of minor trades thus far this offseason. With baseball’s winter meetings a week away, the Dodgers can now focus on continuing their roster construction knowing their manager will be around for the long haul.