Dodgers Dugout: With lockout over, here’s what you need to know about the upcoming season

Dodger Stadium
Dodger Stadium
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and we will get a full 162-game season, even if it does start later than normal.

The lockout is over. If you are interested in all the financial details, read this story by Bill Shaikin. Here are the key things you need to know for next season and beyond.

—Opening day for most of baseball is April 7. Opening day for the Dodgers will be on April 8 in Denver against the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers’ home opener is Thursday, April 14 against the Cincinnati Reds.

—A full 162-game schedule will be played.

—Players must report to spring training by Sunday.

—Spring training games start March 17

—Free agents can be signed at any time. Expect a flurry of activity.

—Playoffs expand to 12 teams (three division winners, three wild-cards in each league. The top two division winners receive a first-round bye). The first-round series will be best-of-three, with the division winner with the worst record playing the wild-card team with the worst record, and the other two wild-card teams facing each other. There will be no reseeding of teams after the first round. In other words, the top seed in each league will host the winner of the 4 vs. 5 wild-card series in the second round, even if the No. 6 seed beats the No. 3 seed.

—There will be no Game 163 to break a tie. A formulaic tiebreaker will be used.

—Starting this season, the National League will have the designated hitter. Last season, pitchers hit .110/.150/.142 across 4,830 plate appearances and struck out 44.3% of the time.


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—No more “start the inning with a runner at second” in extra innings.

—No more seven-inning games in doubleheaders (well, unless it rains).

—Starting after the 2022 season: A committee composed of four active players, six members appointed by MLB and one umpire will be tasked with adopting changes to playing rules such as a pitch clock, base size, banning the shift and electronic ball/strike calls.

—Beginning in 2023, the schedule will be adjusted so every team plays all 29 other teams in each season.

—The payroll tax threshold will begin at $230 million and grow to $244 million. There’s a new wrinkle: Teams that surpass the threshold by at least $60 million will be subject to a new 80% tax-level penalty (previously, the highest possibility tax penalty was 45%).

—Minimum salary jumps from $570,500 to $700,000 and growing to $780,000.

—A draft lottery (to discouraging tanking). The first six selections will be awarded by lottery. Odds would be based on the reverse order of winning percentage, with the bottom three clubs having a 16.5% chance of getting the first pick.

—Players not eligible for free agency or arbitration will be eligible to receive money from a $50 million pool of funds to be distributed to the top 100 players based on awards and statistical performance. MLB and the MLBPA will jointly develop a statistical method to allocate the funds. This gives more money to younger players who perform well.

—Players can be sent to the minors only five times in a season.

—Ads will be allowed on jerseys and helmets.

—Big name free agents include pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, shortstops Carlos Correa and Trevor Story, first baseman Freddie Freeman and third baseman Kris Bryant. There are more than 200 free agents.

What about the Dodgers?

Before the lockout, there was a lot of talk that the Dodgers were in the hunt for Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. That would move Max Muncy (if he’s healthy, he says he is but we’ll know more about his condition when spring training games begin) to second base. Muncy has said he enjoys playing second. Of course, with the DH, players can be moved around more now. You could start Freeman at first, Muncy at third and put Justin Turner at DH. Then put Turner at third the next game and make Muncy the DH, and so on.

The Dodgers are short-handed at starting pitcher. Right now, they have Walker Buehler, Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin. Signing Kershaw would help, with the caveat that no one really seems to know the status of his elbow injury. Will he be able to pitch right away? The Dodgers signed Andrew Heaney before the lockout, saying they believe some adjustments can help him rebound from a miserable 2021 season (5.83 ERA). Spring training will tell us a lot about him. Dustin May had Tommy John surgery and won’t be back until sometime after the All-Star break. So, there’s work to be done to bolster the rotation. Trading for Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo and/or Sonny Gray is a possibility. And yes, they still have Trevor Bauer, but he is probably going to be suspended by MLB at some point, and it seems unlikely that the Dodgers will ever want him pitching for them again.


For the bullpen, Jansen probably won’t be back. Joe Kelly said a couple of weeks ago that he’d like to return and that the Dodgers have shown interest in him returning. Blake Treinen would be the main closer.

The Dodgers main starters as of this moment:

C-Will Smith
1B-Max Muncy
2B-Gavin Lux/Chris Taylor
3B-Justin Turner
SS-Trea Turner
LF-AJ Pollock/Taylor
CF-Cody Bellinger
RF-Mookie Betts

We’ll keep track of all the moves in this newsletter.

Odalis Perez dies

Former Dodgers pitcher Odalis Perez, who was with the team from 2002-06, died Thursday at his home in the Dominican Republic after falling off of a ladder. Perez, 43, was a lefty who went 45-40 with a 3.94 ERA with L.A., his best season coming in 2002 when he went 15-10 with a 3.00 ERA and made the All-Star team. He was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on Jan. 15, 2002, along with Andrew Brown and Brian Jordan in exchange for Gary Sheffield. The Dodgers traded him to the Kansas City Royals during the 2006 season for Elmer Dessens.

Stories you might have missed

MLB lockout ends as players and team owners agree to new contract terms

Plaschke: With MLB lockout over, Dodgers need to add Freddie Freeman

With MLB back in business, the free-agent frenzy is about to begin

Breaking down the biggest Dodgers and Angels questions ahead of the season

And finally

To celebrate the end of the lockout, an oldie but a goodie: Danny Kaye sings the Dodgers song. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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