2018 NLCS Preview: How the Dodgers, Brewers Got Here
The Dodgers and Brewers open the National League Championship Series tonight in a battle between a blueblood and a newcomer.
The Dodgers are in familiar territory, having reached three straight NLCS's and four in the last six years. The Brewers, meanwhile, are playing in their first NLCS since 2011.
The two teams have disparate recent histories, and they also got here in very different ways.
Here is a look at how each team was built, and how they match up with each other as the series begins tonight in Milwaukee.
Los Angeles Dodgers
*How they’re built: 11 homegrown (5 draft, 6 international signings); 14 acquired (12 trades, 2 free agents)
Foundation laid: June 2013-Dec. 2014—The Dodgers already had a division title team in place, but these 18 months helped ensure the franchise's staying power. The Dodgers drafted Cody Bellinger, signed Justin Turner to a minor league deal and acquired Yasmani Grandal, Kike Hernandez and Austin Barnes in trades during this window. They also drafted contributors Caleb Ferguson, Alex Verdugo and Kyle Farmer as well as pitchers Trevor Oaks and Jeff Brigham, who would be used in trades for Scott Alexander and Alex Wood, respectively.
Turning point: Summer 2016—After back-to-back first-round exits, a pair of trades in the summer of 2016 helped elevate the Dodgers from first-round fodder to perennial NLCS participants. In June, they acquired Chris Taylor in a little-noticed deal with the Mariners for Zach Lee. On Aug. 1, they added Rich Hill in a trade with the A’s.
Pushed over the top: April 2017—On April 25, the Dodgers called up Bellinger from Triple-A Oklahoma City for his ML debut, and he immediately became a cornerstone of their lineup. Three days later, the Dodgers signed Max Muncy to replace Bellinger as Oklahoma City’s first baseman.
*Matt Kemp counted as acquired in trade
*How they’re built: 4 homegrown (3 draft, 1 international signing); 21 acquired (15 trades, 3 free agents, 3 waivers)
Foundation laid: July-Dec. 2015—The Brewers first step toward success was borne of a selloff. With the team tumbling toward a 68-94 record, Milwaukee traded Carlos Gomez to the Astros at the trade deadline and received Josh Hader, Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips in return. They also acquired Zach Davies from the Orioles for Gerardo Parra. Once the season ended, the Brewers continued making moves that would pay long-term dividends. In October, they claimed Junior Guerra off waivers from the White Sox. In November, they traded Francisco Rodriguez to the Tigers for a package that included Manny Pina as a player to be named later. In December, they traded Adam Lind for the Mariners for a package including Freddy Peralta, and they also acquired Keon Broxton from the Pirates for Jason Rogers. Their biggest move of all wasn’t a trade, though. On Sept. 20, 2015, the Brewers named David Stearns their general manager.
Turning point: The 2016-17 offseason—Stearns used his first full offseason making moves that turned the Brewers into contenders. In November, the Brewers signed Eric Thames to a free-agent deal out of Korea. In December, they acquired Travis Shaw from the Red Sox in the Tyler Thornburg trade. In February they made their biggest move of all, claiming Jesus Aguilar off waivers from the Indians.
Pushed over the top: 2017-2018 offseason—After all their previous moves yielded an 86-76 season in 2017, the Brewers went for it all and hit on every big move they made the following offseason. In December, they signed Jhoulys Chacin to fortify their pitching staff. In January, they acquired Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain on consecutive days.
*Jeremy Jeffress counted as acquired in trade. Lorenzo Cain counted as acquired as free agent.
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