As the reporting date for pitchers and catchers continues to creep upon us, the basic layout for the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ 25-man roster seems to be just about set.
Back on Christmas Eve, we made an educated guess as to what the 2016 roster may look like. Since that time, the Dodgers’ front office has filled a few gaping holes and added much needed depth with players such as Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, Joe Blanton and Howie Kendrick.
It remains unknown if the Dodgers are continuing to pursue late-inning relief help. Earlier in the winter we saw the front office back out of a trade for flame thrower Aroldis Chapman, while rumored progress for landing Andrew Miller or Jake McGee via trade eventually fizzled. For now, the brunt of eighth inning workload will seemingly fall on Chris Hatcher and J.P. Howell.
It also appears as if other teams are finally calling Los Angeles about their outfielder surplus — most specifically Andre Ethier — however, any type of progress regarding momentum has not yet been reported. Breaking up the existing logjam could prove to be beneficial as Trayce Thompson waits for an opportunity to contribute quickness and speed, in addition to having the ability of covering all three outfield spots.
On the injury front, all issues are progressing as expected. Reports reveal no major concerns for Yasmani Grandal or Enrique Hernandez, while the timetable on the return of Justin Turner may be slightly delayed. Hyun-jin Ryu also appears to be on schedule; yet with the newly acquired starting pitching depth, the Dodgers certainly have the luxury of executing due diligence in all aspects of his recovery and won’t necessarily be focused on a return when the regular season commences.
Here’s how the 25-man roster shapes up at the present moment:
Catchers (2) – Yasmani Grandal and A.J. Ellis
It’s almost fascinating how the Dodgers continuously become deeper. The bench could potentially be among the best in baseball. With Crawford, Van Slyke, Ellis, Utley and Hernandez, the Dodgers rank excellently in terms of high-leverage pinch hitting, platoon arrangements and coverage against injury.
Position players waiting in the wings not on the 25-man include Thompson, Elian Herrera, Micah Johnson, Charlie Culberson and Austin Barnes. The bullpen, despite being very young, may be in much better shape than many think, especially in terms of depth. Adam Liberatore, Frankie Montas, Jharel Cotton, Chris Anderson, Josh Ravin and Ian Thomas will all be ready at Triple-A Oklahoma City when needed.
The door continues to close on utility man Alex Guerrero, as there’s still no word on how the Dodgers will utilize the 29-year-old moving forward. Perhaps showcasing his talents during the spring may capture the attention of another team in need, although his contract is probably too much of a mess for anyone else to maintain interest.
One area of concern that remains is the lack of the traditional leadoff batter. Pederson’s current strikeout rate is way too high for him to maintain a high OBP and be productive at the top of the order. Other options here are limited, but may include Kendrick or Puig, being that the sabermetric philosophy of Andrew Friedman doesn’t put a high value on stolen bases, sacrifice bunting or other types of hit-and-run scenarios.
All that being said, we will try to keep the 25-man projections updated as opening day approaches. We’ll stay on top of any roster moves and injury updates, and make one final prediction at the 25-man a week or so before the season begins. Be sure to check back frequently for reports on relative transactions, trade rumors and opinions.
(Photo Credit: geeksandcleats.com)