In just a little over three weeks, many rosters across baseball will be expanding in size as allowed by MLB regulations, and the Dodgers will presumably be seeing quite a few additions to the active squad. Many fans are vaguely familiar with the methodology, as there are a few who admittedly don’t know the finer details of the whole process. Yet those folks can remain at ease, because we’re conveniently here to shine a little light on some of the rules and make a few predictions as to which players will be (re)joining the team.
On September 1, all clubs are permitted to expand their 25-man active rosters to include any player who is a member of the club’s 40-man roster. Pretty simple, right? Teams very seldom utilize all 15 extra players which the rules allow, as most squads typically elect to add a half dozen or so faces to the active roster. Many clubs choose to promote a crew of up-and-coming youngsters to solely acquire major league experience, while others decide to strengthen their squads for the sake of competing in a divisional race, or sometimes, to merely provide rest to a group of regular players while preparing for a run in the postseason.
So, right off the top, what this means is the Dodgers will be calling up players like Brock Stewart, Josh Ravin, Edward Paredes, Trayce Thompson and Kyle Farmer on or after September 1, if they’re not part of the team’s 25-man active roster already. It also means that fans will likely get a first look at some of the less popular players on the Dodgers 40-man crew. Faces like Jacob Rhame, Luis Ysla, Dylan Floro, Luke Farrell and Fabio Castillo may appear in the big league dugout, and in some cases, make their respective MLB debuts.
With all of that being relatively straightforward, there is a loophole in the rules for which the Dodgers are setup nicely to take full advantage. All of the players who are on the 60-day disabled list can return to the club’s active roster after September 1, without having to be placed on the 25-man roster, so long as they served a 60-day minimum stint. In the case of the Dodgers, technically, veterans like Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Rob Segedin, Franklin Gutierrez or even Scott Kazmir could rejoin the team, without needing to bump another player off of the club’s active roster. This only applies in the window of September 1 though the end of the regular season, though, as teams’ rosters are obviously limited to 25 players once the postseason officially begins.
In other words, while there’s absolutely no reason to rush the returns of either Gonzalez or Ethier, the club could elect to wait until September to bring them back, without needing to deal with the red tape of shuffling the 25-man. Conveniently, the maximum time for a standard rehab assignment is 30 days, which in the case of Gonzalez, ends precisely on September 1.
In contrast, this will not be the case for staff ace Clayton Kershaw, who is only on the 10-day DL and already part of the 40-man, so long as he progresses through rehab without a blemish and is 100% healthy by all standards.
As far as the pitching staff goes, the reinforcements will provide rest and cover for the regular arms who may need a bit of a breather down the stretch — a rest period of sorts as preparations are made for the playoffs. But in the case of the position players, it could mean a straight out audition for a spot on the Dodgers’ postseason roster. It’s still early, but some hypothetical models have Gonzo and Ethier potentially in a battle for one seat on the postseason squad.
Of course, there are a plethora of other transactions which are likely to occur. We could see a few players designated for assignment, most specifically to make room on the 40-man for someone like Walker Buehler, Joe Broussard or Madison Younginer. There were a number of speculations a few weeks back indicating that Buehler may be considered for a big league bullpen role after the rosters expand. There have also been many discussions regarding the inclusion of 21-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo at the point of expansion.
Clearly, there’s still a full three weeks before all this happens, and there’s plenty of time for the management team of the Dodgers to sort things out. In addition, some of these theories can be tossed out the window if any subsequent injuries occur.
Nevertheless, there’s no time like the present to start thinking about such matters, and to begin envisioning the initial 25-man crew which will kick things into gear during the 2017 postseason.
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