Dodgers Roster: More Updates Surfacing on Outfield Picture

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(Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

The Dodgers held their FanFest this past Saturday, and there was the usual fun of autographs, pictures and interviews. During those interviews, some new information has come to light, especially concerning the outfield and Matt Kemp‘s situation.

As far as center field goes, manager Dave Roberts said that he views Chris Taylor as the starting center fielder going into spring training.

“Obviously things happen by way of injury, performance. From now until Opening Day, through the regular season so many things can happen.” Roberts remarked at FanFest. “But to look at our roster and see the versatility potential we have in our guys is huge. But yeah, right now, Chris is penciled in to play centerfield.”

What a difference a year makes, as last year at this time there wasn’t even an inkling of Taylor being a full-time outfielder. The utility infielder did not make the 25-man roster out of spring training, and spent time in Triple-A Oklahoma City working on his skills in the outfield.

This seemingly leaves the previous starting centerfielder Joc Pederson out of a full time job or jockeying for one of the corner outfield spots. Pederson spent some time at OKC himself last year to work on his swing. He did produce well offensively in the postseason.

But the bigger story is whether Kemp will still be with the team in spring training, and when the season starts. Re-acquired from Atlanta in a salary dump transaction, he was not still expected to be with the team at this time. The front office made it well known that they were either going to shop him to other teams, or release him outright. Neither of those has happened yet.

Kemp had some issues with being in L.A., it seems. When he went to the Braves, he said he was happy to finally be in a “baseball” town. He and Yasiel Puig were seen having an argument in the dugout in a game in September of 2014. Roberts addressed that issue as well.

“They’ve both matured, and they both want to win,” the skipper said, also indicating that he would take both players to dinner during spring training, to try to put an end to the four-year beef between the men. While not perfect, we have definitely seen maturity on the side of Yasiel Puig. And for Kemp’s part, he will really have to do a lot of things maybe he doesn’t want to do to stay on the team. He would definitely have a reduced role if he made the 25-man roster, and he needs to be OK with that and not let his frustration get the best of him.

Kemp was not invited to FanFest to try to avoid any awkwardness that could occur. But he has as least one fan on the team in Kenley Jansen, who’s outspokenness about the issue Dennis highlighted this weekend. GM Farhan Zaidi stated over the weekend that Kemp would be competing for a spot in left field.

The Dodgers are flush with good outfielders at the moment, and it would be tough for Kemp to make the team at this point. I am here for a Kemp redemption story, if all the parameters are met—being able to produce, and being a good teammate. The Dodgers front office has been vocal about having good people as well as good players on the team, I don’t see how they’d let a discontented player ruin the excellent chemistry this team seems to have.

(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)

 

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2 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: More Updates Surfacing on Outfield Picture

  1. I’m curious as to how many other teams, especially in the AL, would jump all over Kemp if he were let go? Getting a potential DH for league minimum would be a windfall for just about anyone. My thinking is that there are a few just waiting for what they see as the inevitable cheap Kemp availability.

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    1. I think there are fewer and fewer AL clubs who actively go to the outside to fill their DH needs. Guys like David Ortiz may be the last of their kind. I believe the 25-man roster spot is increasingly becoming more valued, where execs put more worth on a guy who hits .270 with 15 home runs and can play both corner outfield spots than a guy who hits .282 with 20 HR and can’t field at all. You’re starting to see it more and more in the NL, too—utility guys are beginning to appear all over the place. Pretty soon, we’ll just have a “pitching staff” instead of a starting rotation and a bullpen. Matchups are becoming the basis for just about every strategy these days. Tough to succeed when you’re locked in with one primary DH, I think.

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