They backed it up with a plus-136 run differential (a fairly absurd figure across just 60 games), and then in the postseason went 13-5 en route to winning the World Series for the first time since 1988.,Because of the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fans weren't permitted to attend MLB games last season until the very last rounds of the playoffs.,The plan right now is for fans to be in attendance at spring training games and regular season games, albeit in limited numbers and in accordance with local guidelines.,Last season, no fans attended any regular season Astros games even as they advanced as far as the ALCS, so they've yet to hear about their transgressions in the typical manner.,Last season, the Padres busted out in a big way, as they won at a .617 clip -- the best win percentage in franchise history -- and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

I think it’s been very well documented what they did this winter and how they’ve gotten better as an organization over the last two, three years,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said as pitchers and catchers prepared for Thursday’s first workout.,Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman did acknowledge it’s “hard to say” if the Dodgers would have pursued pitcher Trevor Bauer as aggressively in the free-agent market if the Padres hadn’t started the arms race with their acquisitions of Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove this winter, fortifying a roster led by third baseman Manny Machado and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (third and fourth, respectively in the 2020 National League MVP voting).,Let’s do everything we can to go out next year and do it again,” Friedman said during an appearance on SportsNet LA, summarizing the texts that were going around among members of the Dodgers’ front office in the afterglow of last year’s title.,But as much as the rising threat in San Diego, the challenge for the Dodgers in 2021 is providing validation for last year’s short-season title by winning another in a standard-length season.,“I have argued and would still argue that last year’s circumstances were more difficult than a regular potential grind that we’ve known in the past, all that we’ve ever known,” Roberts said.

Mural artists Brian Peterson, left, and Damin Lujan of Santa Ana created a 35-by-40-foot mural depicting Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers on a building overlooking the parking lot of Philippe the Original sandwich shop in Los Angeles.,(Photo courtesy of Brian Peterson and Damin Lujan)

David Ahn stands beneath the mural of Kobe Bryant and Mookie Betts he commissioned to be painted on the side of his building at 686 N. Spring St. in Los Angeles, CA.,(Photo by Andy Holzman) read more

The Dodgers reached agreement on a two-year contract with catcher Austin Barnes Sunday.,The contract is reportedly for $4.3 million over the next two seasons including a $300,000 signing bonus and salaries of $1.5 million in 2021 and $2.5 million in 2022 with potential escalator clauses based on games played.,Barnes had sought a $2 million salary for 2021 in arbitration with the Dodgers countering at $1.5 million.,Even as Yasmani Grandal and now Will Smith were the Dodgers’ primary catchers in the regular season, Barnes has started 30 of the Dodgers’ 54 postseason games over the past four seasons including 15 of 18 World Series games in that time.,In six seasons with the Dodgers, the 31-year-old Barnes has a .230 batting average and .700 OPS.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES–Agreed to terms with INFs Maikol Hernandez, Grabiel Salazar, Carlos Rodriguez Eruviel Castillo, Victor Celedonio, Anderson De La Santos and Angel Tejada and INF/OF Trey Mancini, OFs Wilmer Feliciano, Hector Jimenez, Teudis Cortorreal and Angel Pena and LHPs Deivy Cruz and Elvis Polanco and Cs Yasmil Bucce, Aneudis Mordan and Samuel Basallo on one-year minor league contracts.,OAKLAND ATHLETICS–Agreed to terms with LHPs Sullivan Ribeiro de Almeida and Sean Manaea, OFs Mark Canha, Pedro Pineda, Angel Arvalo and Beyker Martinez, INFs German Ortiz, Matt Chapman, Dayker Baldallo, Ray Garrett and Anderson Machado, RHPs Maosis Hernandez, Jesus Perdigon and Jimmy Rojas, Cs Javier Pariguan, Chris Bassitt, Franke Montas and Lou Trivino on one-year minor league contracts.,LOS ANGELES DODGERS–Agreed to terms with RHPs Dailoui Abad, Miguel Bastardo, Brian Diaz, Jhonny Jimenez, Maximo Martinez, Kelvin Ramirez, Christian Romero, Pedro Santillan, Missael Soto and Michael Vilchez, OFs Juan Alonso and Issac Barreto, Cs Carlos Avila, Jesus Galiz and Thayron Liranzo, INFs Elio Campos, Wilman Diaz and Luis Guerra and LHPs Jorge Carpintero and Sebstian Jimenez on one-year minor league contracts.,PITTSBURGH PIRATES–Agreed to terms with OF Ruben Bizcaya, LHP Antwone Kelly, RHPs Jose Garces, Jesus Clode, Darlin Diaz, Luigi Hernandez and Andres Sierra, OFs Rodolfo de la Cruz, Shalin Polanco, Eddy Rodriguez and Esmerlyn Valdez, INFs Rubel Lebron, Wesley Zapata and John Zorilla, C Miguel Sosa on one-year minor league contracts.,Agreed to terms with INFs Adari Grant, Elias Reynoao, Samil De La Rosa, Anyelo Encarnacion, Yancel Guerrero and Marcelo Perez, C Leonardo Bernal, OFs Carlos Carmona, Christian Avendano, Robelin Lopez, Romtres Cabrera and Jose Suarez and RHPs Esteban Contreras, Carlos De La Cruz and Samuel Fabian on one-year minor league contracts.

(Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images)

After 16 seasons of covering MLB (13 with the Kansas City Royals and three with the St. Louis Cardinals), Joel Goldberg opens up and reflects on covering the game he loves and the people he has met along his journey of telling stories as a broadcast journalist.,This book does more though than just talk baseball though, as Joel tells stories about those in the world of business along with average everyday people who play a small role that has made a difference in the lives of others.,Scattered throughout the book are touching stories about “small ball” individuals from Kansas City who have overcome challenges.,The book tells emotional stories that include a relationship between former Royals pitcher Bruce Chen and a young Royals pitching prospect named Carlos Fortuna.,Toward the end of the book, Goldberg tells another story about the late Yordano Ventura and how he was one of the most energetic and most respected teammates during the Royals’ multiple trips to the World Series. read more

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dodgers star Cody Bellinger agreed to a $16.1 million, one-year contract Friday with the World Series champions that avoided salary arbitration.,The Los Angeles outfielder and first baseman was the 2019 NL MVP and 2017 NL Rookie of the Year.,He hit a career-low .239 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs in the shortened season, down from a .305 average with 47 homers and 115 RBIs, all career bests.,He slumped to a .136 average (3 for 22) with one homer and three RBIs in the World Series against Tampa Bay as the Dodgers won their first title since 1988.,A two-time-All Star, Bellinger earned $4,259,259 in prorated pay last year from an $11.5 million salary.