They've spent lavishly to do so, setting a big league record with a $257.3 million payroll in 2014 and shattering that mark with $291.1 million a year ago. The final figures aren't in for 2016 yet, but Los Angeles' Opening Day payroll of $249.8 million was the highest in baseball.
That outlay of cash might create the impression that the Dodgers have built a consistent winner by going crazy on the free-agent market -- and that impression couldn't be further from the truth. Los Angeles only has four free agents on its Division Series roster.
Instead, the Dodgers have tapped the international market more than anyone, parlayed first-round picks into a pair of indispensable players and assembled the majority of their roster via trades.
Here's a look at how each player on the Dodgers' NLDS roster was initially acquired during his current stint with the club:
Player, how acquired, year:
Kenley Jansen, Int'l sign, 2004
Clayton Kershaw, Draft, 2006 (1st round)
Pedro Baez, Int'l sign, 2007
Joc Pederson, Draft, 2010 (11th round)
Corey Seager, Draft, 2012 (1st round)
Ross Stripling, Draft, 2012 (5th round)
Yasiel Puig, Int'l sign, 2012
Julio Urias, Int'l sign, 2012
Kenta Maeda, Int'l sign, 2016
The Dodgers have just four drafted players on their playoff roster, but they've made them count. Their best pitcher and best position player were first-round picks.
Clayton Kershaw was the seventh overall pick in 2006 and signed for $2.3 million, a franchise Draft record at the time. He reached Los Angeles less than two years after he turned pro and quickly established himself as the best pitcher of his era. He has won three Cy Young Awards and an MVP award, not to mention four NL ERA titles and three NL strikeout crowns.
The 18th overall choice in 2012, Corey Seager signed for $2.35 million, still the franchise standard for a drafted position player. While he didn't advance quite as quickly as Kershaw, Seager was starting in the postseason for the Dodgers last October as a 21-year-old and is a virtual lock to be the NL Rookie of the Year in 2016 (as well as the likely NL MVP runner-up to Kris Bryant).
Coming out of high school in 2010, Joc Pederson had the opportunity to play baseball and walk on the football team as a wide receiver at the University of Southern California. That scared a lot of teams off, but not Los Angeles, which took him in the 11th round and landed him for $600,000. Like his father Stu, Joc made the Dodgers as an outfielder, and he has reached the 25-homer plateau in each of his first two Major League seasons.
Not only is Los Angeles one of only two postseason teams with five international signees on its roster, it's the only one with more of them than draftees (four). A pioneering organization on the global market, the Dodgers have had success with transactions both big and small.
Their lone fully healthy starter this year has been Japanese import Kenta Maeda, who signed an eight-year contract in January with $25 million in guarantees and a possible $10 million a year in performance bonuses. The medical report he provided to big league clubs led to concerns about elbow irregularities and potential Tommy John surgery, but he has been a rotation mainstay in his first season in the United States.
Yasiel Puig, who seemingly has provided as much drama as production this season but is capable of carrying a club when he gets hot, defected from Cuba and signed a seven-year, $42 million contact in June 2012. On the same trip to Mexico where they scouted and finalized the deal for Puig, the Dodgers also bore down on Julio Urias, whom they landed as part of a $1.8 million package deal with the Mexican League's Mexico City Red Devils. One of the brightest young left-handers in baseball, Urias made his big league debut this year at age 19 and was one of Los Angeles' best starters down the stretch.
The Dodgers also found two key members of their bullpen for bargain prices -- as position players. Closer Kenley Jansen spent his first five pro seasons as a catcher after signing for $85,000 out of Curacao in 2004, and Pedro Baez was a third baseman for six years after inking for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2007.
Player, year, acquired from:
Andre Ethier, 2005, Athletics
Adrian Gonzalez, 2012, Red Sox
Austin Barnes, 2014, Marlins
Howie Kendrick, 2014, Angels
Yasmani Grandal, 2014, Padres
Grant Dayton, 2015, Marlins
Luis Avilan, 2015, Braves
Chase Utley, 2015, Phillies
Josh Fields, 2016, Astros
Rich Hill, 2016, Athletics
Josh Reddick, 2016, Athletics
Carlos Ruiz, 2016, Phillies
Though Andrew Friedman didn't take over as president of baseball operations until October 2014, he has assembled nearly half of Los Angeles' NLDS roster via trades in less than two years. He really got busy at the 2014 Winter Meetings, getting Andrew Heaney as part of a four-player package from the Marlins for Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas; spinning Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick; and laying the groundwork for a Matt Kemp trade with the Padres that included Yasmani Grandal.
Friedman also has made a number of in-season deals. The most significant move last season was the August acquisition of Chase Utley from the Phillies for prospects Darnell Sweeney and Jon Richy. The Dodgers went even bigger this July, shipping well-regarded pitching prospects Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas and Jharel Cotton to the Athletics for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick.
On most days, at least half of the position players in Los Angeles' starting lineup are trade acquisitions. In addition to Grandal, Kendrick, Reddick and Utley, that group also includes Adrian Gonzalez. He's the lone remaining player from a July 2012 blockbuster with the Red Sox that saw the Dodgers take on $264.7 million in salary by getting Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto for five players, most notably Rubby de la Rosa and James Loney.
Justin Turner, 2014
Charlie Culberson, 2015
Andrew Toles, 2015
Joe Blanton, 2016
As mentioned above, the Dodgers have just four free agents on their NLDS roster, despite setting Major League spending records. However, they did find a key contributor in the bargain bin two years ago.
In February 2014, Justin Turner was looking for work after batting .260/.323/.361 in five Major League seasons with the Orioles and Mets. Los Angeles signed him to a Minor League deal worth $1 million if he made the big league club, and he responded by batting a career-best .340/.404/.493. He set new career highs with 16 homers and 60 RBIs in 2015 and exceeded those figures this year, when he tied for the team lead with 27 homers and 90 RBIs.