Even if the Dodgers don’t make a huge splash before next month’s trade deadline, the club’s 25-man roster will take a different look before big league active rosters expand in early September.
It seems to happen almost every season—one or two impact players who have been on the shelf for quite some time return from injury. This year’s duo is Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock, a pair of position players that could provide the Los Angeles lineup with an instant boost of offense.
David Freese, perhaps the squad’s most valuable bench piece, should also be returning in very short order. Freese has been battling a mild hamstring issue, but skipper Dave Roberts has recently indicated the veteran corner infielder may be activated as soon as July 1.
As far as the pitching staff goes, Scott Alexander should be healthy enough to return at some point in July. He’s not a dynamic upgrade, but at least he’ll provide decent depth. Rich Hill conceivably isn’t anywhere near returning, but the hope is for the veteran southpaw provide an extra starting arm down the stretch-run of the regular season, giving management the option of resting the horses of the rotation before the playoffs begin.
Seager was sizzling offensively before his injury occurred. In the 18 games before his placement on the IL, he slashed an impressive .397/.461/.721 with 10 doubles, four homers and 18 RBI over 76 PA. Furthermore, he was often placed much lower in the batting order, extending the lineup even more. With Alex Verdugo now fitting nicely into the two-hole, the batting order may turn out to be as potent as ever as August approaches.
From a defensive standpoint, a regular outfield consisting of Cody Bellinger, Pollock and Verdugo doesn’t get much better. All three are extremely solid when it comes to grades in most of the critical areas of defense.
Perhaps the biggest challenge will be finding a way to keep Chris Taylor on the field in some shape or form.
Before the Seager hamstring strain, Taylor was hitting .218/.283/.391 over 193 plate appearances. Since then, he’s slashing an insane .426/.476/.741 with eight doubles, three homers and 16 RBI over 63 PA, so to say he has stepped up his game would be an understatement. The good news, though, is that CT3 can theoretically handle all three outfield spots as well as short, second and third base. Moreover, it’s a given that Taylor will appear any time an opposing lefty pitcher is on the mound.
All that said, it still doesn’t address the club’s woeful bullpen issues. Alexander will not make a huge impact, and it’s totally unreasonable to bank on the fact that Joe Kelly will morph into the force he was during the 2018 postseason. To boot, should anything prevent Pedro Baez or Kenley Jansen from seeing regular action, the relief corps may find itself in a ton of hot water.
The good news is that the organization may have some viable trade pieces to offer rival clubs, especially when considering the emergence of rookies like Matt Beaty and Kyle Garlick. What’s more, it seems like Will Smith is soaring above Keibert Ruiz, so the club may have to consider a decision regarding the long-term future of the team behind the dish. Nevertheless, it still makes some sense to keep both, but when factoring in the high demand for young, MLB-ready catchers, a prospective return on a trade could be huge.
Either way, the action surrounding this year’s trade deadline should be incredibly hectic, being that waiver deals have been taken off the table completely.
Front office boss Andrew Friedman almost always makes one or two impact deals before time runs out on July 31, and this year should be no different.