Dodgers' Andrew Friedman confirms manager Dave Roberts will return in 2024

The Los Angeles Dodgers' past three postseasons could be politely categorized as massive disappointments, but the team has no plans to replace manager Dave Roberts.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman confirmed that the team will keep its coaching staff in place during an end-of-season news conference Tuesday, five days after the team was swept out of the NLDS by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Friedman praised the work Roberts and the Dodgers coaching staff did this year, via SB Nation's Eric Stephen:

"The collective effort of this group and the culture — not just, 'Hey, everyone gets along' — going through the clubhouse and watching how everyone is focused, all of our players on how to try to win a game. The one thing I can say with absolute certainty — and there aren't many things I can do that about — as we postmortem, it was certainly not from a lack of effort. Watching the way these guys prepared, cared and did everything they could to put themselves in the best position to go out and have success.

"Now, we didn't do it, and that ultimately is what matters most, so it's figuring out from that. But I think Doc, our coaching staff did a good job this year, and none of us did a good job for any of those three games against Arizona."

Roberts just finished his eighth season as manager of the Dodgers, a tenure in which he has posted the sixth-best regular-season win percentage in MLB history and the best since 1950. The Dodgers just posted an MLB-record fourth straight 100-win season (not counting their pandemic-shortened championship-winning season in 2020).

However, even though the Dodgers have consistently won, their habit of early exits in recent postseasons has led to speculation that Roberts' job could be in jeopardy. Friedman has so far not entertained the idea in public, but here are the arguments for and against a move that would send shockwaves through MLB:

The argument for the Dodgers keeping Dave Roberts

Remember how the New York Mets sank under the weight of 100-win expectations? Remember how the New York Yankees couldn't overcome a wave of injuries? Remember how the San Diego Padres were the worst team in baseball this year in close games?

Those were the three teams with higher payrolls than the Dodgers this season, and they all failed to make the playoffs. Because making the playoffs is hard, even when you have resources like the Dodgers', and you don't fire a manager who has led you to the playoffs in every season of his tenure just because you lost three games.

It is very easy to take Dave Roberts for granted when he's managing a team like the Dodgers, but fans really shouldn't, especially after the job he did this year. You might recall the Dodgers had a few injuries (that would be understating it).

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pauses in the dugout prior to Game 3 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks won 4-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Is Dave Roberts the problem for the Dodgers? (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

By the end of the season, the Dodgers were missing an entire playoff rotation in the form of Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urías, their starting shortstop in Gavin Lux and relievers such as Blake Treinen, Jimmy Nelson and Daniel Hudson. They still won 100 games, thanks to an incredibly strong top of the lineup, a cadre of young pitchers stepping up and what was still one of the best bullpens in baseball. They didn't sink like the Yankees or buckle under pressure like the Mets.

It was only in the playoffs that the formula fell apart, when Clayton Kershaw had the worst outing of his career, Bobby Miller pitched like a rookie, and Lance Lynn pitched like the MLB home runs allowed leader, while MVP candidates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman hit a combined 1-for-21. It was an ugly three games in the most high-variance postseason in American sports.

How much of that do you want to put on Roberts?

Since Roberts was hired, Los Angeles has posted easily the best winning percentage in baseball, won a World Series, won the National League three times and won the NL West in all but one season. You might also recall that the team's 2017 World Series loss came with maybe the biggest asterisk in MLB history. The team has cycled through stars, pushed some very good veterans into part-time work and navigated injuries, all without a peep of grumbling about Roberts' leadership in the clubhouse.

You fire a person with that résumé at your own risk.

The argument for the Dodgers firing Dave Roberts

Well, you have to do something, right?

We're now in the third straight year of the Dodgers losing to an inferior team in the playoffs, looking increasingly like a deer in the headlights while doing so. Of the six biggest upsets in MLB history by regular-season win differential, the 2021-23 Dodgers are responsible for half of them.

Making sure players are prepared falls on the manager, and the Dodgers have failed spectacularly at doing that since they won the World Series.

If the Dodgers really are in a decline, firing Roberts would be the easiest way to send a jolt through the organization. It's also not like Roberts was the one who built those 100-win rosters, he just kept them together, and there should be plenty of managers who can do that. Maybe one of them can deliver on expectations in the postseason, too.