Dave Roberts 'expecting, hoping' he can work out contract extension with Dodgers

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San Francisco, CA - October 14: Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts looks out from the dugout.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts looks on from the dugout before Game 5 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants on Oct. 14. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers’ season-ending loss in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday potentially signaled the end of an era.

Five prominent contributors are scheduled to hit free agency once the World Series is over. Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen have been mainstays for over a decade. Corey Seager is the reigning World Series MVP. Chris Taylor emerged as an All-Star utilityman and clutch playoff performer. Max Scherzer became the team’s ace down the stretch.

The players’ long-term futures will be decided during the offseason. The manager’s might be too.

Dave Roberts is not a free agent this winter. But he has only one year left on his contract, which, for a manager, effectively makes him one. Managers usually want to avoid becoming lame ducks. The thinking goes that the status undercuts their authority. Roberts is no different after completing his sixth season at the helm.

Roberts, 49, said he has not had discussions with the organization regarding a possible extension. He said he “fully” expects to manage the Dodgers in 2022 whether a new agreement is reached or not. But he prefers a contract extension.

“I know I got another year left and it’s just kind of expecting, hoping, that they come to me and we can work something out, I guess,” Roberts said when reached by phone Sunday. “And, if not, you just kind of do your job and play out the contract.”

Roberts has led the Dodgers to the postseason in each of his six years — five times as National League West champions. They’ve claimed three pennants. Last year, they won the club’s first World Series championship in 32 seasons. This year, they tallied 106 wins, matching the franchise record set in 2019 but didn’t win the division for the first time under Roberts’ watch because the San Francisco Giants won 107 games.

And despite the success, Roberts has been the target of constant criticism for his in-game decision-making, particularly his handling of pitchers, every October.

“Dave has been a big part of our past success and we fully expect him to be a large part of our future success as well,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a text Sunday.

Don Mattingly, Roberts’ predecessor, publicly bemoaned his impending lame-duck status after the 2013 season. He and the club eventually agreed to a three-year contract extension. A year later, Dodgers President Stan Kasten fired general manager Ned Colletti and hired Friedman. Mattingly lasted two more seasons before the sides agreed to part ways ahead of the final season on the deal.

The Miami Marlins then hired Mattingly as manager. His departure opened the door for Roberts, who spent parts of three seasons with the Dodgers as a player in the 2000s. The former outfielder was the San Diego Padres’ bench coach in 2014.

“I just think that this is where I want to be,” Roberts said. “And I expect that we'll have some really good conversations at some point in time this winter.”

This season, the Dodgers used 61 players — 37 pitchers and 24 position players. Trevor Bauer, their marquee free-agent acquisition, was put on paid administrative leave after being accused of sexual assault. The Dodgers also absorbed a bevy of injuries.

Cody Bellinger broke his fibula the first week of the season. Dustin May was lost for the season on May 1. Seager missed 2 1/2 months because of a broken hand. Kershaw aggravated a forearm injury during the regular season’s final weekend and didn’t pitch again. Max Muncy suffered a season-ending elbow injury two days later. A hamstring strain ended Justin Turner’s year in Game 4 of the NLCS. Joe Kelly’s season ended the next night because of a biceps injury.

In the end, after beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card game in walk-off fashion and surviving the Giants in five games in the division series, they ran out of gas against a torrid Braves club. Pitching Scherzer and Julio Urías in relief, decisions made in concert with the front office, backfired. The offense was too inconsistent, scoring three or fewer runs in seven of their 12 playoff games. They weren’t the best team.

“It was a tremendous season,” Roberts said. “It was a heck of a year.”

Roberts is hoping he and the Dodgers have many more years together.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.