“Yes, I’m stuck in the middle with you,
And I’m wondering what it is I should do
It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face,
Losing control, and I’m all over the place”
One of the biggest questions for the Dodgers entering the 2017 season is right in the middle of the field. Earlier this week, LA traded Howie Kendrick to Philadelphia for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney. While Kendrick spent most of last season playing in left field, he was originally a second baseman. The man who played there most often, Chase Utley, was only signed to a one year deal. So who will play second base?
First, we should look in house. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has said that Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Charlie Culberson and the newly acquired Sweeney would all get looks at the position.
In two seasons with the Dodgers, Hernandez has played 31 games at second. 2015 was a pretty decent year for Kiké, but 2016 was a down year, batting only .190. He did not have any errors at second in either ’15 or ’16. Taylor played only seven games at second for LA in 2016. He batted marginally better that Hernandez at .207, and had one error at second. Culberson played 10 games at second, also with one error. He did have a better year at the plate, batting .299.
Sweeney is back from the Phillies, after originally being traded for Utley. He did not play any games for the big league club in 2016. He did play 54 games at second for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he committed five errors and batted only .233. Aside from Culberson, none of these guys seem to be a viable option as an every day starting second baseman, and Culberson is probably best as an adequate fill-in when needed.
So that leads us to look elsewhere. A few trade candidate names have been floated out there recently. Two are especially intriguing.
Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins seems ready made to slide into second for the Dodgers. He had a tremendous second half, and crushed left handed pitching. He hit 42 home runs, where no one on the Dodgers hit more than 30. His defense was solid, and he has a team friendly contract. As the Twins are looking to rebuild, they would expect a nice haul in return.
Ian Kinsler is another good option, albeit maybe shorter term. Kinsler will be 35 this upcoming season. He’s coming off a really good year. He also is very good against left handed pitching, and has a low strikeout rate. Kinsler also is very good on the base paths, another thing lacking in the Dodgers arsenal. He is also signed to a team friendly contract.
Other names out there are Logan Forsythe, Neil Walker, and Brandon Phillips, to name a few. The above are the best options, but will also come with a hearty price of prospects and/or current players. The Dodgers may just opt to resign Utley again, and use in house players to spell him. But second base, with the options of Dozier or Kinsler, would be a good place to upgrade both offensively and defensively.