TopicThe Dodgers discovered
The Dodgers' Division Series roster this year featured fewer acquired players (7) than any of the eight teams which advanced past the Wild Card round. However, no player acquired via trade helped his team in 2020 quite like Betts, who led the National League in WAR (3.4 WAR) after the Dodgers acquired him and Price from Boston during the offseason. Yes, the Dodgers were forced to part with some good homegrown talent in the deal, trading away Alex Verdugo as well as prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong Sandy Koufax Jersey, but the organization's overall depth had made all three players expendable. The Betts trade also got the Dodgers power-armed reliever Brusdar Graterol, a cost-controlled asset who lit up the radar gun while making 23 appearances as a rookie. Similar to the Rays, Los Angeles has made several small moves that have turned into steals, such as dealing for Enrique Hernández (a throw-in in the Dee Gordon trade with the Marlins in 2014) and Chris Taylor (from the Mariners for Zach Lee in 2016) and signing lightly regarded free agents Justin Turner ($1 million Minor League deal in 2014) and Max Muncy (released by Athletics in 2017). Of course, Tampa Bay knows a thing or two about finding value in under-the-radar free agents. Right-hander John Curtiss and lefty Aaron Loup, both signed by Tampa Bay last February, combined for 1.3 WAR during the regular season while appearing in 41 games. Charlie Morton, pitching in the second year of his two-year, $30 million deal, is the only other free agent on Tampa Bay's projected World Series roster. The 36-year-old right-hander was brilliant vs. Houston in the ALCS, winning Games 2 and 7 and working 10 2/3 scoreless frames between the two outings. Outfielder AJ Pollock Cody Bellinger Jersey, who clubbed 16 home runs in 55 games in the second of his four-year, $55 million deal, headlines the Dodgers' crop of free agent signings. Relievers Joe Kelly (3 years, $25 million through 2021), Jake McGee (3 years, $27 million through ‘20), Blake Treinen (1 year, $10 million) and Alex Wood (1 year, $4 million) round out the rest of that group. It's worth noting that each of the past three World Series champions (Astros, Red Sox and Nationals) have won using a similar blueprint, developing quality hitters as well as some pitching while importing impact-caliber talent to help address any roster deficiencies. That blueprint will have worked for a fourth straight season if the Dodgers are able to defeat Tampa Bay and win their first World Series title since 1988. But should the Rays ultimately take down the Dodgers in this year's Fall Classic, despite their acquisition-heavy postseason roster and longstanding payroll limitations, baseball may very well see more teams try to adopt that successful model in 2021 and beyond. The Dodgers and Rays constructed World Series teams in different fashions, no surprise considering the disparity in financial resources available to the two organizations. Rather than leverage its wealth, however, Los Angeles used the Draft and international market to put together one of the most homegrown clubs in the playoffs Mookie Betts Jersey. Tampa Bay relied heavily on a series of astute trades. World Series Game 1: 8 p.m. ET on FOX Key performers on both teams had humble beginnings and flew under the radar in the Minors. Justin Turner and Tony Gonsolin signed as college seniors, Mike Brosseau was a nondrafted free agent and Nick Anderson spent three years in the independent Frontier League at the start of his pro career. While several of the players in this Fall Classic were top prospects when they rose through the Minors, there aren't as many of those as usual. Nineteen of this year's 58 World Series participants made MLB.com Top 50 or Top 100 Prospects lists, down from 24 of 50 Astros and Nationals in 2019 and 22 of 50 Dodgers and Red Sox in 2018. Below, we rank those 19 players in order of their prospect status when they first reached the big leagues. 1. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers: first-round pick (No. 18 overall) 2012 (HS/North Carolina), $2.35 million bonus Seager's selection marked the first time in 10 Drafts that the Dodgers didn't spend their first pick on a pitcher. Though he briefly slumped in high Class A and the Arizona Fall League at the end of 2013, he rebounded to lead the Minors in hitting (.349) and doubles (50) in 2014 and was starting in the National League Championship Series the following year. In his first full season in Los Angeles, he was the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year and placed third in the MVP balloting. 2. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers: first-round pick (No. 7 overall), 2006 (HS/Texas), $2.3 million bonus If 2005 supplemental first-rounder Luke Hochevar hadn't backed out of an agreement with Los Angeles Andre Ethier Jersey, it wouldn't have landed Kershaw, the best high school prospect the next year. Hochevar re-entered the 2006 Draft and went No. 1 overall to the Royals, which helped push consensus top prospect Andrew Miller to No. 6 and the Tigers, who otherwise were locked in on Kershaw one pick ahead of the Dodgers. He reached Double-A in his first full pro season, excelled in his first big league camp in 2008 and was in the big leagues to stay that summer at age 20. 3. Julio Urías, LHP, Dodgers: purchased from Mexico City Red Devils (Mexican League), 2012, $1.8 million transaction The Dodgers discovered Urías during a trip to Mexico to scout Yasiel Puig and purchased him as part of a four-player package from the Mexico City Red Devils that also included Victor González. Urías dominated low Class A hitters as a 16-year-old, and even with Los Angeles handling him with extreme caution because of his youth, he still advanced to the Majors and succeeded there at age 19 in 2016. Eased back into the rotation after recovering from shoulder surgery in mid-2017, he became a full-time starter again this season and has won all four of his postseason appearances. 4. Cody Bellinger, OF, Dodgers: fourth-round pick, 2013 (HS/Arizona), $700,000 bonus Because he hadn't grown into his lanky frame and employed a line-drive swing that detracted from his power potential, Bellinger lasted four rounds in the 2013 Draft -- though he was the biggest over-slot signing in Los Angeles' Draft class. He started driving the ball once he made adjustments to his approach after two pro seasons, becoming the top power prospect in the Minors before setting a National League rookie record with 39 homers in 2017. 5. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Rays: fifth-round pick, 2011 (HS/California), $600,000 bonus (Pirates) Glasnow fit the mold of projectable prep pitchers the Pirates targeted for much of this decade and received a well-over-slot bonus to give up a scholarship to Portland. He quickly blossomed into one of the game's best pitching prospects after dominating in the Minors (2.01 ERA, .173 opponent average Chris Taylor Jersey, 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings) but struggled to throw strikes in multiple stints in Pittsburgh beginning in 2016. The Bucs banished him to their bullpen in 2018, then regrettably packaged him, Austin Meadows (see below) and pitching prospect Shane Baz to get Chris Archer from Tampa Bay that July. 6. Mookie Betts, OF, Dodgers: fifth-round pick, 2011 (HS/Tennessee), $750,000 bonus The industry consensus on Betts as a high schooler was that he was a good athlete who was undersized and possessed solid but not plus tools, and he also came with some signability concerns. He lasted 172 picks in the 2011 Draft -- going 20 selections after Glasnow -- and didn't hit his first pro home run or reach full-season ball until 2013. Then he raced to Boston by June 2014 and soon rivaled Mike Trout as the best all-around player in baseball.