This is not going to be the National League West of recent memory.

For the past four seasons, the San Francisco Giants, with two World Series titles (three in the last six years), and the Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of three consecutive West championships, have run the division. Those clubs spent the most and won the most.

The San Diego Padres attempted to compete last season, making blockbuster trades and signings in order to climb the division’s ladder, but they failed miserably, again leaving the Giants and Dodgers to fight it out without interference from anyone else.

That is expected to change next summer. The Dodgers and Giants are scrambling to make trades and sign free agents to improve themselves, but the Arizona Diamondbacks have already done both and, as rosters are currently constructed, look to be the class of the West after acquiring pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller.

The offseason is far from over, but based on what we’ve already seen, the National League West is going to be a dogfight next summer, and probably for years to come, as none of those three clubs has any interest in lying back. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman made note of Arizona’s outlook:

“That’s now a damn good team,” an NL West scout told’s Jayson Stark at last week’s winter meetings. “That’s a very tough lineup to work your way through. They play the game the right way. And I like their rotation a lot.”

Arizona’s moves were bold and risky. It agreed to pay a 32-year-old Greinke an average annual salary of more than $34 million, the highest the game has ever seen, over six years. And to land Miller, the Diamondbacks had to give up a package of prospects that included last year’s No. 1 overall pick, shortstop Dansby Swanson, who could end up being an impact player at the major league level sooner rather than later.

The moves are aided by the massive television deal the team received for more than $1.5 billion, according to Nick Piecoro of AZCentral Sports (h/t MLB Trade Rumors)—the kind of contract that has already changed the way the franchise operates. Chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and general manager Dave Stewart used that flexibility to sign Greinke for $206.5 million, and in the coming days and years the D-backs will be a legitimate contender for any high-profile free agent, including Japanese ace Kenta Maeda now and potentially Stephen Strasburg next year.

“What would you do to win?” Stewart told reporters last week. “That’s how I look at it. … We’re in the business here to win.”

As are the Giants, the winningest franchise Major League Baseball has seen in terms of World Series championships in some time. That is why after missing out on Greinke, they went to Plan B and signed Jeff Samardzija, hoping he can be a bounce-back candidate under pitching coach Dave Righetti. That came weeks after the team signed shortstop Brandon Crawford, possibly the best all-around player at his position, to a six-year, $75 million extension.

There is more to do. The rotation is still iffy even with Samardzija, and acquiring a power-hitting right-handed bat could be in the team’s near future. GM Bobby Evans told Zach Links of MLB Trade Rumors that he has been in touch with “almost everyone on the outfield market,” and he did not rule out the possibility of the team’s going after Yoenis Cespedes when talking to MLB Network Radio before the winter meetings.

That kind of impact bat and another arm to put in the rotation or bullpen would put the Giants at Arizona’s level and make their bid for a fourth World Series in the even years a realistic possibility on Opening Day.

Then there are the Dodgers, mostly shut out at the winter meetings and having to absorb the loss of Greinke, possibly the best pitcher in baseball last season.

“If I was handicapping the division right now,” a scout told Stark, “I’d say the Dodgers would finish third.”

That is because aside from losing Greinke, the Dodgers opted to not trade for Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman after finding out he had been involved in a domestic incident in October. The teams had reportedly agreed to a trade, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, before the Dodgers uncovered the incident. MLB is now investigating the allegations and could end up suspending the left-hander.

The Dodgers are now poking around the New York Yankees to see what it would take to get closer Andrew Miller, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman (h/t MLB Trade Rumors). That would be a nice secondary option, though he would likely cost a better return package than the one the team was willing to give up for Chapman since Miller is under contract through 2018.

Johnny Cueto is also a possibility for the Dodgers, as Heyman reported last week. If the Dodgers were to sign Cueto and pull off a deal for Miller, or another reliever of his ilk, they likely would not fall to third in the division and would be a favorite to win their fourth consecutive NL West title.

For all the noise the Padres made last offseason, they are a team falling way behind the other three clubs. And the Colorado Rockies are almost hopeless in this division, as everyone around them is making or attempting to make blockbuster moves to get better.

Whatever else unfolds between now and spring training, we already know the NL West is going to have three clubs involved in a knockdown, drag-out brawl for the top spot. And it should be a pleasure to witness.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired firsthand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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