If you haven’t yet taken a moment to ponder the impending 25-man roster for the Dodgers in 2018, you may be a bit surprised when you do. Sure, there’s still plenty of time for the entire squad to change its complexion, but when considering players like Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Grant Dayton and Brandon Morrow are gone, in addition to Chase Utley, Andre Ethier and Tony Watson being very unlikely to return, there’s certainly some doors open on the 25-man to a few faces who didn’t see much big league action last season.
One of several offseason question marks right now is what Los Angeles will ultimately do with outfielder Matt Kemp. The 33-year-old veteran was acquired in a deal by the Dodgers which saw quite a bit of money change hands, as well as a quartet of players being sent to Atlanta to join new baseball boss Alex Anthopoulos. Not long after the trade, president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman was reportedly frank with Kemp in saying that he’s likely destined to be dealt to another club in the very near future, however, there have yet to be any whispers about any types of prospective deals in the works. And as more time passes by, the discussions about the possibility of the Dodgers conceivably keeping Kemp continue to increase.
As we’ll probably put some type of very, very preliminary 25-man roster projection together later this week, one of the more interesting potential quandaries straightaway is who is the better 25-man roster option between Kemp and super-utility man Rob Segedin. It’s one of those types of scenarios where outlining piles of statistics probably doesn’t help, but it’s a fun sort of hypothetical situation in which to have a discussion, nonetheless.
In all likelihood, it’s best to start by talking about the few things Kemp, in his twilight years, has in his favor. He has 12 seasons of big league experience under his belt, including three trips to the postseason—all with the Dodgers. He still has a bit of pop left in his bat, as made evident by the 19 long balls he poked last year, despite an injury riddled campaign. And if we drift back to the 2016 season when he was healthy, the Oklahoma native blasted 39 doubles, 35 homers and 108 RBI. On top of that, he’s been notoriously successful against southpaw pitching throughout his career, having logged a career .319/.380/.542 slash line. And he still has somewhat of a decent arm, although it’s a far cry from the throwing ability he had several years back, when he was right up there with some of the best guns in the game.
Now for the negatives. In theory, Kemp can pretty much handle one defensive position at the moment—left field. That being said, it wouldn’t be out of line to say he can’t handle it adequately, although there’s really no other position for him to slide into. Right field may be a far reach, but it’s absurd to think the Dodgers would even consider shifting around one of the game’s premier defenders in Yasiel Puig to accommodate Kemp. Subsequently, his quickness and speed are all but gone, and, any way you look at it, his range factors and zone ratings in the field are borderline atrocious, seemingly continuing to decline with each passing season.
As for Segedin, the amount of potential is enormous, but the injuries which led to him missing 102 games in 2017 have, for all intents and purposes, negated his remarkable rise to the big leagues in the second half of his 2016 campaign.
When he’s healthy, the 29-year-old Tulane product can basically play anywhere in the yard defensively, although he’s much better equipped to handle all of the corner infield and corner outfield spots. He’s certainly not a speed-burner, but his respectable range and glovework make him a satisfactory defender.
Segedin has already proven that he can obliterate Triple-A pitching, but his sample sizes in the bigs have been too small to make an accurate guess as to what the future holds. There have been a handful of bright spots, though, most specifically the four RBI he tallied off of David Price and the Red Sox in his major league debut in August of 2016. Another good sign, according to his career minor league stats at least, numbers show that his splits are virtually equal. Additionally, the fact that he has two option years remaining on his contract makes his playing status even more friendlier from a management perspective.
For all the Kemp fans out there—myself included—the chances of him donning Dodger Blue one final time are extremely slim. He would likely need to do some heavy campaigning to Friedman and his group to even garner the mere thought, as well as showing some good faith as far as working himself into superior physical condition. And it probably wouldn’t hurt if he signed up for Mike Trout‘s 10-day winter clinic covering route running and the basic mechanics of successful defending.
Believe it or not, if he’s healthy, there’s probably a good chance that Segedin makes the Opening Day 25-man, even when conceding early spots to players like Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles. If there’s anybody that theoretically poses a challenge for fringe spot, it could be the up-and-coming speedster Tim Locastro.
Be sure to check back frequently for our first roster predictions of the winter, as we promise to go into even more detail about player personnel, highlighted by discussions about several other farmhands who have legitimate shots to contribute at the big league level.
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