Dodgers Roster: Exploring the Second Base Possibilities for 2019

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With each passing winter, it seems as if the Dodgers have a hole in their roster regarding a primary second baseman. In 2018, fans saw eight different players garner starts at the keystone, and by the time the playoffs rolled around, team management still didn’t have a overwhelming choice for a solution. As it stands now, there will be quite a bit of personnel movement this offseason—including the coaching staff—and once again, fans will wonder if the front office will go shopping for a second baseman or try to utilize its resources from within the organization.

Followers of the team need to look back to 2016 to find any solidarity surrounding second base, the year Chase Utley played his first full year in Los Angeles, slashing .252/.319/.396 with 14 long balls over 138 games. That particular season was the last the Dodgers had any type of consistency relating to playing time at second base. 2017 saw the arrival of Logan Forsythe, and despite a few flashes of strong production, never really got things going with the lumber. Before Utley, there was Howie Kendrick and Dee Gordon, both of whom never cemented themselves as the primary starter at second for more than one full season. One would need to drift back to a stretch during 2012-13 to find Mark Ellis, who held down the fort for two seasons, in spite of slugging just 13 homers and 79 RBI in nearly 1000 AB while wearing Dodger Blue.

Utility man Enrique Hernandez seemingly emerged as the clear-cut starter for Los Angeles ahead of the 2018 playoffs, and some pundits believed that the Dodgers finally filled the role which was in question for a few years. However, Hernandez went just 5-for-41 last postseason, forcing the coaching staff to turn to Chris Taylor for the bulk of the World Series reps.

Should the Dodgers not make any moves on the outside, Hernandez and Taylor could be the front-runners for the 2019 job, although both would likely be used in other spots around the diamond. Hernandez is brilliant defensively; but aside from 2015 when he hit .307 in a role mainly as a lefty killer, never really put it all together at the plate. Taylor hit .254/.331/.444 last year with 17 home runs and 35 doubles, but still led the entire squad with 178 punchouts. Taylor is often criticized by pundits for his inability to shorten up his swing, and he’s frequently denounced for his emphasized launch angle, regardless of the pitch count or if there are runners on base.

Max Muncy is also a reasonable option, despite his limited range and questionable glovework in the field—things that are sometimes innate and often impossible to fix. Still, a .973 OPS and 35 homers mandate his presence in the daily lineup in some shape or form.

In the minors, there are players like Tim Locastro, Drew Jackson, Gavin Lux and Errol Robinson, but nobody, aside from maybe Locastro, has yet to make enough noise to warrant an extended look in the big leagues.

As far as free agents go, 30-year-old DJ LeMahieu seems to be the most intriguing. He won his second consecutive Gold Glove last year, which fits the Dodgers’ defensive philosophy perfectly. LeMahieu also hit .276/.321/.428 with 15 long balls and 32 doubles, but he’s a right-handed hitter, something the team already has in Hernandez and Taylor.

Several other interesting choices on the FA market include Jed Lowrie, who posted a 4.9 WAR last season, Daniel Descalso, Daniel Murphy and Josh Harrison.

Of course, a trade is always possible, but with the current priorities being catcher and bullpen help, it’s hard to say if Andrew Friedman will indeed make a splash to upgrade his second base resources. A lot can happen over the winter, but my best guess right now is that Muncy and Taylor might be given every opportunity to play their way out of contention during the first month of the 2019 season, allowing Hernandez to continue his super-utility expertise.

 

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54 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: Exploring the Second Base Possibilities for 2019

    1. I suppose they could, but his .182/.300/.350 slash line after arriving in Los Angeles has put him out of consideration, at least in my opinion. Those numbers are reminiscent of Forsythe’s while he was with the Dodgers. Along those same lines, he hit just .218/.295/.423 for both Minnesota and L.A. last year. What’s even more surprising is that he slashed just .209/.330/.319 against southpaws.

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  1. Dozier played last year with a leg problem that may have had a pretty substantial effect on his performance, but he isn’t exactly a youngster so it’s hard to determine definitively what caused his pretty awful season. I love his hustle and everything he brings to the clubhouse but I’m guessing they’ll move on to someone else. My personal choice is Lowrie who happens to be a switch hitter and has had a couple of excellent seasons in 2017-2018. If we could get him to sign up for 2 years, I would go for it. At that point it will hopefully be time to turn second base over to Gavin Lux.

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      1. Can’t wait for the Winter Meetings when Andrew takes the microphone and announces a second baseman signing, a trade and a free agent signing in the bullpen, a hitting coach, assistant hitting coach and third base coach signing, a GM signing and a few stat guy signings all in the same announcement.

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      2. Whadya say Dennis? How about organizing a TBPC bus trip to Vegas to help out Andrew with the hard stuff (trades, etc.). He can stay in L.A. Just give us the checkbook and the contract forms and we’ll take care of the rest. Who’s in?

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  2. Honestly most teams would kill for our in house options of CT3, Kike and Muncy so I’m fine with going with a platoon between them. Like deserves a starting role but he’s just too valuable as a utility guy to sacrifice him. He still gets as many at bats as if he had one set position anyway. Muncy is terrible defensively but I could deal with it in a righty/lefty platoon with Taylor. Gavin Lux is going to be knocking on the door pretty soon with a possible debut late next year so I would spend money elsewhere in free agency. If they decide to make a trade then you have to start in KC with Whit Merrifield who would provide something this team has lacked since Dee Gordon was traded; a true lead off hitter and threat on the bases. Merrifield would cost Verdugo plus another two top 15 prospects however so it’s pribavly best for everyone to keep Taylor and Muncy and wait on Lux.

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    1. Being you talked about Dee Gordon why not get him. Seattle is looking for a center fielder & pitching how about Peterson&Stripling for Gordon bring up Verdugo for centerfield and finally have a true lead off hitter which we have been lacking since Gordon was shipped out.

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      1. I wouldn’t mind seeing Gordon back playing second for the Dodgers. However, I’m not so sure Friedman would have an interest in a guy with no launch angle and who’s incapable of mashing 25 long balls in a season.

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      2. I don’t think it’s the launch angle so much as the 2018 OBP which was .288. That’s not what this front office is looking for in a leadoff hitter.

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  3. The Dodgers have to do something to upgrade the bullpen or we will fall short again next year. Friedman refuses to spend money in the pen yet it’s what killed us two years in a row in October. We need a shutdown lefty and this year it just so happens Andrew Miller and Zach Britton are on the market. I would take the chance of either rebounding and give them a deal even though they weren’t quite themselves last year. Miller would be preferable but I don’t see him signing with a west coast team as he’s a known east coast lover. Britton however is a Cali kid. It would be great to get him on a 2 year deal but facts are he’s going to get 3 somewhere. I’d gladly give him 3 years $30 million.

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    1. Some good takes Alex. Hope we’ll continue to see your comments here. True, Friedman has hesitated to spend money on the pen in the past but he always had Kenley to fall back on as the anchor. That isn’t necessarily true any longer so I’d be very surprised if we don’t see a major name added this winter, either by free agency or trade, or both.

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  4. The real fun is what in the world will they do with the rotation. To be honest 4 spots are claimed with Kershaw, Buehler, Ryu and Hill. How do you choose between Meada, Stripling, Wood and Urias? They are all deserving. I still think Maeda in the bullpen is a benefit since he throws 95 in relief but he more than anyone else probably deserves that 5th spot. I think they start Urias in AAA to build him up as a starter so that leaves Wood and Stripling. If a trade is going to happen I can see one of these starters being involved.

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    1. Why couldn’t they build up Urias’ innings in spring training? He’s gonna be on an innings limit, so why waste them at OKC if his stuff is good? Friedman said that Maeda will be given the chance to open the season in the rotation, so that certainly complicates things. Probably no room for Wood at all as a starter.

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      1. I’m sure they will build Urias up in the spring but I just think they will take the cautious route and start him in OKC for the first month or so which gives them more time to figure out the rotation. Injuries can always decide for you though and it seems we always havestrtsrs going down so this problem could just go away. I hate it for Alex Wood because he was quietly very good last year in the rotation. I think he can be a nasty reliever with that slider but I know he wants to start.

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    2. The advantage to our rotation is that none of them can stay healthy for a full season. Gives everyone a chance to participate! I’m going to repeat what I said earlier (because I like to hear myself talk) and say that Wood will not be on the roster come Spring Training. Not really sure what trade value he might have but whatever it is he’ll be traded. I think Urias’ situation will be determined by how he looks in ST. If he’s looking good, he’s part of the rotation. Otherwise, he starts in the bullpen or at OKC. Until we see injuries to the other guys I’m afraid Stripling is back in the bullpen, although I think there’s a slight chance he could be included in a trade. Four more years of control makes him a fairly valuable piece. Question will be whether Andrew thinks he has more value here or in a trade.

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  5. Wood is the odd man out IMO, maeda has such a team friendly contract, and he is one of our few right handers, I think the 5 spot is his to lose. Does Wood have any value in the trade market?

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  6. Alex Wood and Stripling both would have good trade value. Both guys would be most teams 3rd starter and some their #2 but with us they are 5th starters at best. If they were to trade one it would most likely include a prospect too but we would get a very nice return. I’m not sold they want to trade any guys though with the number of pitchers we lost last year.

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    1. Although Wood has probably had a bit more success so far I think Stripling has the greater value because he has four years of control remaining to Wood’s one. I think Wood will be very unhappy in the bullpen going into his walk year and that’s why I’m convinced he’s traded this winter. Stripling’s personality is probably a little more accepting of the bullpen although now that he’s had good success as a starter (actually All Star success) he won’t be happy either. We do potentially have Urias, Santana and even Ferguson as starters that we didn’t have available for most of last year should we need them and of course, the free agent guys. I admit I’m being stupid here, but I would give Eovaldi whatever it takes to sign him. His injury history is horrific but to me that WS performance overcomes everything.

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      1. Let’s give him 5/75 and have him go into the HOF as a Dodger………………………………..or watch him go down with his third TJ in May. I’m willing to take the risk. Also, I have a bad feeling that he’s exactly the kind of guy Farhan would pick to make his first free agent splash.

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      2. I read an insanely premised story the other day that said that Farhan and Roberts have been talking, and that’s the main reason that Doc hasn’t agreed to an extension. I think it was on Sportsnaut. No kidding.

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      3. That’s such a blatant case of tampering that I really doubt it, but it’s quite possible that he had a closer relationship with Farhan than with Andrew. I’m sure Maddon would be very happy to come back to SoCal, although the guy I really find interesting is Ibanez. I’ve heard him interviewed a few times and he’s very impressive. That said, I’m guessing Doc signs an extension by the Winter Meetings.

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      4. I just think we have way too many starters to sign another. It wouldn’t make sense and I wouldn’t give Eovaldi $75 mil with his injury history.

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  7. The OF situation is going to have to get resolved this offseason I’m afraid. Something has to give because you can’t keep Verdugo in the minors any longer. He’s been ready for a year now. One or even two of Verdugo, Puig, Joc, Kemp and Toles will not be on the team come opening day. Kemp will be impossible to move. No question they prefer to move Puig above anyone but I think it’s going to come down to Joc or Verdugo.

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  8. I really hope we keep Verdugo and give him a year to show us what he has. I think he has more potential than any of the guys you mentioned (as long as you don’t insist that every outfielder hit 20 or more homers). You’re right, they’ve tried to move Puig a few times but now that he only has one year left on his contract, he’ll be even harder to trade. So that leaves Joc, Kemp and Toles. Under the right set of circumstances, I think they could get someone to take Kemp but it would involve giving some money and would probably be an AL team who could use him at DH some of the time. Neither Joc nor Toles has spectacular trade value but someone could really strike it rich of they were willing to take the gamble on one or the other of them. I do agree with your statement that one or two of the guys you mentioned won’t be with us on opening day.

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  9. The OF depends a lot on what we do at first base, is bellinger going to be a first baseman, or an outfielder, which probably depends on what is going on with Muncy. I’m so confused.

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  10. I’d prefer Cody at 1B but it seems he is destined to CF next year with Muncy and Freese both around. People knock on Joc Pederson a lot but go compare his stats to Bryce Harper’s last year. He’s close to him in many phases.

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    1. Taylor will still be in there a bunch and it looks like Muncy will be the primary 1B with Freese in against lefties. Verdugo needs to be in RF but LF is his quickest ticket to playing time.

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  11. Man, this place blew up.

    Good takes. I can’t really offer anything new, I’ll just say I like Lowrie or LeMaieu more than I like our in house options. I think we need an innings eater, Kluber maybe, maybe somebody like him, but I don’t see that happening. The Friedman floor plan is easy to read. He’ll do it the same way he’s done it in the past. We will continue to throw out suggestions, most of them damn good ones, like what I’m reading here, but they aren’t likely to happen. We still have a lineup of good players and several decent arms from which to choose. I think Urias will pitch 100 innings and if it’s up to me all of them are in LA. Ryu might be healed. He can pitch 100+. Buehler, 135 easy. Maeda, 130. Stripling, 110. Ferguson, who knows, but if he starts he could double his 49 this year. Kershaw will get bulk of IP by an individual pitcher and there will be a couple of FA spin rate signings and a couple comeback guys, plus a bullpen start or two ….. and that could be how it’s done. More of the same is what I’m predicting.

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    1. I really wish we knew how the group functioned internally when Farhan (and even Anthopoulos) were still a part of it. Do they all think alike? Did they all come at roster construction from different viewpoints and now that those two are gone are those viewpoints no longer represented? I have a feeling that having gotten to the WS twice and lost both times and this being the last year of his contract, Andrew just might be a lot bolder than we expect this winter.

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      1. I hope you are right Jeff. I’d like to see what Friedman can do on the open free agent market. LeMehieu or Lowrie makes sense for this team. Lowrie is 35, but still plays every day, and could do that for us until Lux is ready. Corbin and Keuchel sound good to me, as does AJ Pollock. If Kluber is indeed available, he’d be a great fit and would actually cost less $ than what we are paying Ryu. He would cost a lot in prospects, which is why I doubt it would happen. We could lead the offer with a ML outfielder that has mad launch angle skills, maybe that would intrigue Cleveland. Or Miami. The question might be, with Farhan recently gone, and Antho already out a year, does Friedman get bold alone? Is Byrnes now second chair, and who is the Jonah Hill character in this movie?

        How about Suzuki until Ruiz is ready? He and Barnes can share the duty. He hits same side pitching ok and is a solid defender. Apparently they don’t much care for Farmer in that role.

        Typing as I think…… AJ Pollock. Sign him and we could then cull the outfield glut in trades for bullpen arms. Corbin, Eovaldi, Keuchel. Choose. I’m still very interested in that Pittsburgh trade that was mentioned here. So…… Pollock, Lowrie/LaMahieu, Suzuki, Kluber/Corbin/Eo/Keuchel or combo thereof, the trade with Pittsburgh – Vladimir Spinsky, a Ryne Duren clone and I’m done. I’ll be in Curaçao for the winter.

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  12. Hey Scoop, you were afraid we weren’t going to do much this off season? Look at all the moves you have us making. I assume Andrew was whispering in your ear as you were typing?

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  13. I would prefer someone like DJ. He is a solid player and pretty consistent and just 2 years removed from a batting title. But all in all, Friedman has never shown an inkling to sign other teams bigger ticket players. So you can forget Harper and definitely forget Machado returning. I would love Kelly in the bullpen and a return of Eovaldi. They have a lot of trade chips. For catcher, I would go after Cervelli as a bridge to the kids. Realmuto would cost them too much

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  14. Can someone explain why you send a pitcher to triple A to build up his innings as against building up his innings in LA?
    We really need to do something about the outfield to give verdugo a real shot. We need a few guys to get on base ahead of the sluggers. We hit too many one run homers. No idea if he has a future in the bigs but he should get the chance.
    Finally we need some inning eaters. A bunch of 5 inning starters and a weak bullpen don’t work. We need a stronger bullpen or some guys who can pitch 6 or 7 innings.

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  15. When you try to limit a pitchers innings like Urias he may pitch every 6-7 days and only throw 4-5 innings. If he was on the Dodgers it would overtax the bullpen and throw the other starters off their routines. So bring him up later in the summer when he can pitch every 5th day and go 7 innings and 100 pitches. Coming off a surgery like his, he can only throw maybe 140-150 innings next year.

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    1. Only 140-150? Those are #2 innings on this club.

      He only projects 94 innings at Roto Champ, but I think all 94 could be done at ML level. He looked good to me in the innings he pitched this year. You want to “build him up” let him pitch 2 innings every 3rd day or so until summer, then turn him loose. It’s not like this staff won’t need a long reliever next year. Not sure how that would “tax” a bullpen Rich but I’ll listen to an explanation.

      I agree about the outfield Gordon. I was all in on Stanton early and even more in on Yelich. When a guy like that becomes available, a local guy at that, you do what it takes to get him. But no. He goes to Milwaukee. And we still have to make room for Verdugo. We could have moved Joc, Taylor, and Toles for prospects and traded all of them plus a pitching prospect for Yelich and we’d be set in the outfield for years.

      Hey Bear. Good to see you again. Is package still suffering the Weltschmertz constrictions over Kemp and the FO?

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    1. Dang it. 2 years? That’s how long I wanted him. Just enough time to get Ruiz ready. Where is Friedman? Is he in the Bahamas? Maybe interviewing the next Peter Brand?

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      1. Actually, Andrew is negotiating with AJ Ellis to come back on a 6 year, 100 million dollar contract. Who needs Suzuki?

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