When news surrounding the Dodgers was quite slow early in the winter, we ended up taking a preliminary glance at what the club’s 25-man roster may look like. As there have been a few changes since that time, we thought it might be a good idea to roll out another set of projections ahead of the first spring workout for pitchers and catchers, which begins on Wednesday.
Obviously, injuries always play a huge factor when it comes to roster selection, but assuming everyone stays healthy, most of the choices aren’t that difficult.
Aside from a few bubble spots in the bullpen, the roster itself is nearly set. The biggest factor in determining the final choices will be whether or not management elects to utilize a seven or eight-man bullpen. The way I see it, if it’s an eight-man pen, the final position player spot may boil down to a Cactus League competition between Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo. If the team opts for a seven-man relief crew, there may be room for both.
Being that the team named eight relievers on last year’s Opening Day roster and used eight arms for nearly the entire year, I’m predicting that Verdugo is included over Toles, just because Alex has a bit more versatility and conceivably has better contact skills at the plate.
Furthermore, it may be wise to keep an eye on the progress of shortstop Corey Seager. All indications reveal that he’s healthy, but if there are any setbacks, it could result in a few twists on the 25-man.
As far as the starting rotation goes, there’s not much to discuss except the depth beyond the starting five. The rotation was solidified with the departure of Alex Wood last month. But, as far as depth goes, Dennis Santana will be ready to go at the beginning of the year while Ross Stripling is always capable of being stretched for four-plus innings. Julio Urias will emerge at some point, and if our guess for Caleb Ferguson holds true, he’ll be stretched out at Triple-A Oklahoma City and ready for big league starting action at the drop of a dime. Still, Ferguson could be a relief option at some point should the big league club require his services.
The bullpen is the main area of the team with the most speculation, and depending on the effectiveness of a handful of the arms during Cactus League play, several of the roster spots won’t be decided until the final moments before Opening Day. Brock Stewart and Yimi Garcia will be fighting for their respective lives, as both are out of options and could see themselves on the outside if they’re not included on the 25-man. Joining them on the fringe are Josh Fields, JT Chargois, Adam McCreery, Jaime Schultz and Josh Sborz. Conceivably, the final spots in the bullpen may come down to a six or seven-man fight.
Much like the starting rotation, the group of position players is very stable, unless, of course, Andrew Friedman decides to make a huge, late splash and sign somebody like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Presently, aside from Toles, there isn’t much fringe depth to write home about unless you consider the veteran minor league trio of Shane Peterson, Paulo Orlando and Cameron Perkins as notable. Moreover, it may be wise to keep a close eye on Matt Beaty and Edwin Rios if the club decides to mostly stand pat on the 40-man roster.
Looking ahead, we’ll put together another projection a few days before Opening Day, but as of right now, here’s my vision:
Starting Pitchers (5) – Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill
Bullpen (8) – Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Pedro Baez, Dylan Floro, Ross Stripling, Tony Cingrani, Scott Alexander and Yimi Garcia
Infielders/Outfielders (3) – Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez
Outfielders (3) – A.J. Pollock, Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo
Infielders (4) – Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Max Muncy and David Freese
Catchers (2) – Austin Barnes and Russell Martin