The Dodgers have unquestionably one of the most crowded outfields in baseball. Manager Don Mattingly has been forced to split time at all three outfield positions amongst Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, and Scott Van Slyke. Up until this season, Matt Kemp saw some of the action as well.
This sort of situation can be tricky to manage, though the Dodgers’ roster depth is, admittedly, not the worst problem Mattingly could have to deal with. Three out of the five outfielders are bona fide stars, and Andre Ethier, the longest-tenured member of the Dodgers’ outfield, has been very vocal about his desire to be an everyday starter.
The Dodgers could look for trade partners but, because of what these players are still owed, and because the Dodgers already have to pay the bulk of the money remaining on Matt Kemp’s contract while he plays for the division rival San Diego Padres, the Dodgers have a had a hard time finding buyers.
If there is ever a National League initiative to install the designated hitter, the Dodgers should be the first to sign up.
Aside from having to deal with personalities of all these stars, and from having to pay guys millions of dollars to sit on the bench, the depth really is not that bad of a problem.
However, the overcrowding is now no longer limited to the outfield. The infield is now facing a similar issue.
Going into the season, Alex Guerrero had a mandate in his contract which stated that he would either be on the 40 man roster, or would be traded. After a decent spring showing, Guerrero earned his place on the opening day roster.
Keeping Guerrero in the big leagues has proved fruitful for the Dodgers. Guerrero is batting .423 with five home runs, and 13 RBI’s in 26 at bats. sounds like keeping him in the lineup should be a no-brainer, right?
Not exactly. Third baseman Juan Uribe, who had a mediocre spring and is off to a slow start this season, has shown signs of coming out of his slump, batting .333 with 4 RBI’s and one home run over the last week. Uribe also provides veteran leadership and is a clubhouse favorite, which gives him more leeway for a slow start than most players get.
Don Mattingly has suggested that Guerrero could see some playing time in left field, as Carl Crawford may be headed to the disabled list. (http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/dodgersnow/la-sp-dn-carl-crawford-injury-alex-guerrero-dodgers-20150427-story.html)
Second Base / Shortstop
Right now, the Dodgers have veteran Howie Kendrick at second base and fellow veteran Jimmy Rollins at short.
Kendrick is off to a good start, batting .295 with three home runs and 13 RBI’s. Rollins has provided power that was expected to be missing from the lineup after Hanley Ramirez left for Boston in the off season. Rollins also provides veteran leadership in the infield.
Quietly, though, the Dodgers’ number one prospect, Corey Seager, has been tearing it up in the minors, batting .375 with five home runs at the double-A level. The Dodgers have rewarded Seager with a promotion to triple-A , bringing him one step closer to the show. (http://m.dodgers.mlb.com/news/article/121642336/dodgers-seager-homers-promoted-to-triple-a)
If Seager keeps it up, the Dodgers will have no choice but to bring him up or trade him.
Also, let’s not forget that the Dodgers recently signed 30 year old Cuban infielder Hector Olivera to a six year $62.5 million deal.
What are the Dodgers needs?
The Dodgers pitching staff is more depleted than ever.
They won’t have their closer Kenley Jansen for a couple more weeks.
Number three starter Hyun-Jin Ryu doesn’t have a target date for his return yet, after being shut down on March 17th due to a shoulder impingement. (via: http://fantasynews.cbssports.com/fantasybaseball/update/25163984/dodgers-hyun-jin-ryu-throws-bullpen-session-sunday)
To make matters worse, Brandon McCarthy is now out for the year and needs Tommy John surgery.
As a result, don’t be surprised if a blockbuster deal surfaces this summer to bring in a starter who can add back-end depth to the rotation.
The Phillies may still try to deal Cole Hamels, and if the Dodgers’ 2012 trade with Boston, which netted Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, is any indication, the Dodgers won’t be afraid to go after him, especially with all the bloat in the outfield and infield available to trade.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images