The moment that fans of the Dodgers have been waiting for all winter has finally arrived. Even though there normally isn’t much news surrounding the first reporting day, pitchers and catchers are indeed in the house.
In years past, being the big roster predictors that we are, this is the point when we normally publish our intermediate round of 25-man projections; however, not much has changed since our last guess, so we’re going to stick to our early winter projections for the time being, aside from the news that a Chase Utley signing is pretty much imminent. On our list, Utley would presumably take the spot currently held by utility man Jake Peter.
I could sit here and easily write a 2000-word dissertation on the pros and cons of bringing back Utley, but our own Ben Kirst has already covered that quite nicely. Personally, I’m glad he’ll be back, despite the unproductive numbers he’d conceivably contribute. I’m in the camp which thinks the intangibles he brings to the diamond far outweigh his potential statistical contributions. Regardless, whatever happens, I just hope his legacy doesn’t end on a sour note—like a possible DFA during the summer when roster spots are at a premium.
Right around Christmas time, I put together a story comparing Rob Segedin and Matt Kemp as potential 25-man roster candidates, and I still think Segedin would be a much better choice, based on all his skills across the board. But, I also think the decision won’t be as simple as determining who is the better asset. Despite the deal already being a wash, there’s still more than $40 million owed to Kemp, and anybody in their right mind would try to see if there’s any juice left in the motor before throwing that much money onto the junk heap, in the form of a DFA. That being said, if Kemp has a stellar—and it must be stellar—Cactus League, he probably makes the 25-man while Segedin is optioned to OKC, at least for now. And the same can be said for Alex Verdugo.
Injuries aside, I think the Opening Day bullpen will look nearly identical to our initial projections. If for some crazy reason both Kemp and Utley are indeed part of the 25-man roster, I believe we’ll see a seven-man bullpen to begin the campaign, in spite of the club having used an eight-man crew for most of 2017. Utley and Kemp aren’t exactly the most versatile options on the diamond, so the extra bench piece would probably come in very handy.
There have been endless discussions about the Dodgers adding another quality arm to the starting rotation mix, but it appears as if the club will likely stay put with the staff it already has in place. Looking ahead, there will certainly be injuries, and at some point, the club will unquestionably need to dip into its stash of depth. Arms like Brock Stewart, Walker Buehler, or even Tom Koehler, may be called upon early to get the team over the hump, at least until the trade deadlines approach later in the summer.
“The cat’s out of the bag,” Roberts quipped.
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