Assembling a Functioning Outfield for 2020

Cody-Bellinger-Joc-Pederson-Alex-Verdugo
(Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports)

If you’re one of those folks who follows every major rumor surrounding the Dodgers during the offseason, it wouldn’t be difficult to find yourself spinning in circles after just a few minutes of internet surfing.

Anthony Rendon at third base. A switch for Justin Turner to first base. Max Muncy the regular second baseman. Cody Bellinger in center field every day. Austin Barnes not tendered a contract.

Obviously, all of these moves are speculative, but it’s not hard to imagine how a single addition or departure could affect the entirety of the 26-man roster.

One of the things that front office boss Andrew Friedman prides himself on is having players who are versatile. We see it especially with Bellinger and Muncy alongside guys like Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor; yet, for as much as these guys are moved around the diamond, there’s no guarantee these players can shoulder an offensive load—something the Dodgers were definitely lacking in the 2019 NLDS.

That’s where the addition of someone like Rendon would play huge.

Regardless, there’s as good a chance as any the roster stays relatively uniform heading into the 2020 regular season. As a matter of fact, if the whole 40-man crew is healthy, it will be especially difficult selecting the final 26 players, specifically when it comes to assembling an outfield crew.

Thanks to our own Jeff D., and a few tweets from Alex Verdugo‘s brother, Chris (who coincidentally goes by the name of Sirdugo on Twitter), we learned that the 23-year-old Alex is fully healthy and plans to start his offseason training routine very soon.

My opinion is that Verdugo and Bellinger might be the guys the Dodgers build their outfield around. With Gavin Lux conceivably in the picture as the team’s everyday, left-handed hitting second baseman, it could push Muncy back to playing first base regularly, aside from the few occasions when he provides cover at third base.

Take your pick as to who handles the center field vs. right field duties. Both Verdugo and Bellinger have superior quickness, range and glove skills. Verdugo may arguably have the better arm. By reviewing both their offensive splits from last season, there’s really not much to worry about when it comes to facing southpaw pitching, either.

Based on those suppositions, that leaves the team with a straight platoon of Joc Pederson and A.J. Pollock in left field. Yes, Pollock will still be around, unless there’s a way Friedman can move him in a trade. Still, having a fourth outfielder with the skills of Pollock (or Pederson, depending on how you look at it), certainly isn’t a bad problem to have.

Playing exclusively against lefty pitchers wouldn’t give Pollock a ton of playing time, and assuming that both Bellinger and Verdugo shouldn’t need many rest days, there might not be much need to use Pollock for cover in center field. Nevertheless, having Bellinger, Verdugo, Pederson and Pollock as the core outfield group gives the team a decent landscape with which to work.

A fit Verdugo pushes Kyle Garlick out of the 26-man roster picture completely, primarily if both Hernandez and Taylor are both still around and healthy. Furthermore, Verdugo’s presence theoretically diminishes left-handed hitting Matt Beaty‘s value, unless Beaty gains the trust of Friedman and skipper Dave Roberts to play third base more often.

Also out of the picture is Edwin Rios, who moves even farther down the totem pole with Beaty ahead of him.

Another thing to look for is the potential return of Andrew Toles. If Toles does indeed return to spring camp on schedule, it wouldn’t be foolish to think that he spends the entirety of 2020 in the minors while moving to the bottom of the outfield pecking order.

With the chance of DJ Peters being moved to the team’s 40-man roster over the coming weeks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him make his MLB regular season debut, depending on how he handles the pitching in the Pacific Coast League.

 

31 thoughts on “Assembling a Functioning Outfield for 2020

  1. After watching Pollock in the post season, maybe he needs his eyes examined and laser surgery. I am not being glib or joking. There was something off on him. Rios should probably be packaged in a trade to an AL team where he can DH. He is slow and below average defensively whether at 1B, 3B or LF. While he showed great power, he has a very high strikeout rate and is blocked at his best position 1B. But he does deserve his shot at the big time, so if there is a trade to be made, include him. DJ Peters does not have Rios mobility issues, but does have his high K rate, so again if a trade for Lindor or Betts is in the making, I would include either or both of theShe guys without hesitation. Certainly before I give up Lux, Ruiz, May, Downs, Gray or even Gonsolin.

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  2. Find a home for Pollack he is a nothing ball player
    sorry to say absolutely horrible this is someone we signed to play centerfield and he is third string.
    Eat the contract and move on

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    1. I wouldn’t miss him, but they are paying him a lot of money so I suspect he will be given opportunity in Spring Training. I don’t know what Friedman was thinking with paying an oft injured player to the age of 35. $65 million total. He has a $10 million option in the 5th year and I’m thinking he will take it. Unless he comes out of the gate hot I don’t see how he can moved without it costing a lot, either in absorbing money or losing prospects. $15 million next year. He needs to put up 2 WAR to earn it. He got 2.5 in 113 games with Arizona. Put him on the Kawhi Load Management Program and he just might do it again. Splitting time with Pederson will allow him time off. He needs 400 at bats.

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  3. So, in the writers opinion, we should continue on the exact same path, with the same players who have led to our repeated playoff failures.

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    1. I think “prediction” would be a better word. Who knows what would have happened if Verdugo was available for the playoffs? It’s impossible to say exactly what moves will be made this winter, but the outfield crew has as good a chance at any at staying where it’s at right now. The pitching staff could be a different story, though.

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    2. We could win the West again with the same group. Not by as much though. Other teams will be improving.

      That would mean signing Ryu who is a free agent. I think it would strongly suggest we get something other than a Loogy at the deadline, otherwise Doc might make the same boneheaded move. Instead of aKolorek we get a Pomeranz or a Smith.

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      1. The offense can actually be better in 2020 if no moves are made. I am expecting Sager to bounce back to being a.300 hitter and hit 30 homers as last year he was coming off to surgeries. And having a full season of a healthy Verdugo and Will Smith at C as well. A bigger question will be Will Turner be able to stay healthy and maintain his offense in the last year of his contract. 3B could be a major question after 2020. Of course signing Rendon would remedy that. Or shifting Saeger over there as has been discussed many times. Signing Rendon, would likely push Lux into a reserve roll for 2020, which is Ok. Turner would either move on after 2020 or re-sign as a bench piece, with Muncy going back to first and Lux taking over 2B full time.

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      2. Good points GLP. (Steve?). I think it’s important to again point out we led the league in runs scored. What we haven’t been for 7 straight years is that team that is peaking in October. How do we change that? Getting Rendon would probably help, you never know, any bat can cool off at any time, but what I’m thinking as I watch these guys each year is – they don’t look as fresh and eager as the other teams come October. In fact, they often look exhausted. Are they? Or is there another reason they look flat?

        Whatever it is it needs to change. The easiest thing to do is just to change the parts of the engine. Add more horsepower. But that horsepower might also run out of gas by the end of September. That’s why I’m thinking… reduce the load on the current engine. Add a part here and there, who doesn’t like the idea of Lindor or Rendon, but cut back the load requirements on the other parts. Especially pitching. Instead of 30 starts, cut it back to 25 starts. Instead of multiple innings by a reliever, don’t let any of them, except your long man, throw over 18 pitches. Roberts has a modified version of this going on now, with utility guys moving in and out and starters going on the IL in the summer, but I think with our depth we can go a step further with it.

        All that said, I go back and forth with what I think Friedman will do. He has more money to work with than ever before. The white dog tells me he will make big changes. But the black dog tells me he’s Friedman, he will do what he has alway done, going back to his days at Tampa. Most of us really want to feed that white dog.

        So, we wait.

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      3. Wow, I think Roberts rests players and platoons as much or more than any team. We also use the Injury List to our benefit for almost every minor injury and we can because of our depth. And our pitchers? Only Buehler started as many as 30 games and no starter came close to 200 innings. They weren’t exhausted or tired. If anything under utilized IMO.

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  4. Garlicky, beatty and rios are all 27/28 year old career minor leaguers, with no reason to think any of them have major league potential. At that age a breakout is rare and to see them clog up the 26 man roster would not make sense except as emergency call ups. One of the failures of the dodgers over the years has been not moving up young prospects quick enough. If they aren’t good enough by 23/23 to beat out these journeyman, they are probably going to end up as 27/28 year old journeyman. I think j.d. Peter’s is in the same boat.we cant get rid of Pollack’s so we are stuck with this outfield.

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  5. Whoh scoop. Think about that. Why do we have that problem and nobody else? I think part of the problem is we play one half of our games in a division with bottom of the rotation pitchers, no aces and only a handful of middle of rotation pitchers. As a result our offensive stats are badly inflated, and our hitters are thus over rated. Until we hit the postseason. This same theory can be applied to the pitching crew, although to a lesser degree given how bad our division is from top to bottom.

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  6. Colletti did an interview discussing possible Dodger trades with Fred Roggin. Roggin brought up both Lindor and Rendon. He had Seager, May, Strip and one other player going to the Tribe for Lindor and Kluber. Colletti laughed at him. Asked why would the Indians want 2 players who can be free agents the same time as Lindor? He also said he did not think AF would do a deal like that. Then Roggin suggested a contract for Rendon at 5 years 40 mil per. Again Colletti laughed and said, lets move on to the Lakers or some other subject. I think Ned hit the nail on the head. Not so much how much the Indians want, but who. And AF will never pay a premium free agent what the market says he is worth. As for Pollock, he had a lousy playoffs. But everyone here and every where else forgets how good he was down the stretch. He and Seager carried the team when both Muncy and Bellinger were slumping.

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    1. I agree with Colletti and have said as much a few times. Seager for Lindor makes no sense as they are on the same free agent path. Indians would want a controllable player that can replace Lindor in the lineup plus a prospect. I’m thinking Verdugo and White. They will want Verdugo and May. No.

      I read this morning a Muncy for Betts proposal. Would love to see Mookie in our lineup but his best year (age 25) was 2 years ago (‘18) and he’s a free agent in ‘21. He’s another one of those guys that will get an enormous contract that will last long past his peak years. He may still be good, but 6-10 WAR good?

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      1. I do not even think of trading for Betts unless he signs an extension, and is he going to be worth what he will probably demand? Doubtful. A lot of things come into play, and you can ask the same question about Lindor. Look at Machado. He is no where near the same player in the NL as he was in the AL. Makes you think a little. Now Castellanos thrived with the Cubs, but s lot of players who make the switch, do not. The Giants hired a GM today, something we have not had since Farhan left. 3 guys still in the running to be their manager. AF has still not finalized his new deal, and basically he is a free agent until he does. He is suffering from the flu, which may have slowed down the process. Point of all the arguments is this, do any of these moves make the Dodgers better? Any move they make needs to greatly improve the team. otherwise it is a sideways move and not productive. No on, not even the smartest prognosticator can predict how a player will perform after being traded, especially changing leagues. The need on this team is pitching. Anyone with any baseball sense should know that. Fix the pen, and not with patchwork fringe pitchers. Lets get some real quality arms in here. Some back up for Jansen or his potential replacement. Trade some pieces who have no shot at breaking into the lineup or the roster, and get a power RH bat to compliment the left handed power they have. Then they should be better served to make a long run in the play offs.

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      2. Both Betts and Lindor are true 5 tool players. Power, average, speed, gold glove defense, etc. Also, relatively low K rate hitters. They would help to balance the offense as would the signing of Rendon. While we score a lot of runs, the inconsistency seems to show up in the post season. These guys would be difference makers. With that said, I tend to agree with you regarding not trading for them without contract extensions. As far as obtaining high end arms, they are not easy to obtain or even be sure they will continue to excel. Look how great Cole was this year and how great Verlander has been for his career. The Nats beat both of them. Everyone thinks Cole has finally figured it out after an up and down career with the Pirates. Maybe, probably. But is he worth $30M per year? Look at Edwin Diaz. 57 saves. Best reliever in AL, maybe majors. The Mets get him and he gives up 15 dingers in 58 innings. Just terrible. So many variables that affect performance.

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      3. We agree. Focus on adding depth to our pitching. We’ve got a high powered run scoring offense. I think it can even improve. In the final analysis what failed was our bullpen. In the last game of the season our manager had so little confidence in his bullpen pieces he did two really desperate things. He left a 1 inning reliever in for a second inning and brought in a starter to try to hold the middle of the lineup. Those 2 things should never have happened. Fix it!!

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  7. Something I did not touch on in my last post. I think there is ZERO chance that Andrew Toles is even in camp with the Dodgers next year. He is still on the restricted list and there has not been a single word about any kind of resolution to his personal problems what ever they were. Toles time has passed, I think even considering him as a piece for next years team is beyond wishful thinking.

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  8. You can never tell how a player is going to respond after a trade Gary. Betts and Lindor might be 5 tool guys, but they do not guarantee anything. Has no one learned that lesson yet? Machado did not make the Dodgers better after the trade. He regressed as a player and his production was way below what it was in Baltimore. Darvish came over and was not all that great. Reddick sucked. All pick ups from the AL. The pitchers will be new to them, the environment in the Dodger clubhouse is different, even spring training would be strange to Betts who trains in Florida now. I concentrate on the true weakness of the Dodgers, which is not their offense or clutch hitting. They had the best run differential in the league. The problem is the pitching, and now with both Ryu and Hill gone, filling a starting spot and fixing the bullpen have to be the priority’s. And neither Lindor nor Betts will come cheap. And you can forget Rendon. AF is not going to spend a ton of money on a single free agent.

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    1. Pitching is one half of the equation in regards to having the best run differential. Maybe, I wasn’t obvious enough, but a main point I was making is with improving the pitching. Hill wasn’t that much of a factor last year, with how little he pitched. Ryu obviously was. You can have the same issues with bringing pitchers over from the AL, that you point out with hitters, although I’m not sure I agree with that supposition. Machado went from a hitters park to a pitcher friendly park in SD. Let’s see what he does for an extended period before saying having to adjust to new pitchers is the reason. I seem to remember last winter some on this saying they wouldn’t want DJ Lemahieu signed because his numbers were so Coors Field reliant. Yet he goes to Yankees and finishes hitting .327, second in AL. What is your solution for improving the pitching, which led the NL in ERA and WHIP, while allowing the fewest walks and HRs? Pretty damn good. We had the pitching, Two years ago we got a ground ball inducing pitcher from KC, Alexander. He gets hurt. Last year, a 98-100 FB thrower, Kelly from Boston. He was wildly inconsistent. The FO has tried.

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      1. In the post season, pitching is every thing. The Dodgers bullpen was erratic the first half, and better in the second half. Most of the good starter stats came because of 3 guys, Kershaw, Buehler and Ryu, the rest of the starters were mediocre at best. When you are beating teams by 10 runs, your pitching is not the issue. And as far as Machado being in a pitchers park, the entire majors set HR records this year, and he was not really that good. He slumped in the second half, and if you look at his numbers as a Dodger, he was very average. Not the superstar they thought they were getting, and that attitude of his did not help his image one bit. Some players make the transition easily, others do not. This year, the Dodgers basically bludgeoned the opposition most of the time. So I do not believe offense is the problem. All of the trade Seager chatter began after he had a tough playoff series and the Dodgers lost to the eventual World Champs. Pitchers adapt faster than hitters. Relievers seem to make the transition easier. Look how quickly Kolarek adapted. My analysis of Machado remains, he was not that big of a factor down the stretch, and he faded badly in the playoffs. No one knows how any player will perform when changing leagues, and no one can predict that getting this guy or that guy is going to automatically make you championship material. I think the Dodgers lost the playoff to the Nats for the simple reason that the Nats were hungrier. They played to the end, every game, no lead was to big for them to feel that they could not overcome it. The Dodgers played that way during the season, which is one reason they had so many comeback and walk off wins. But they did not play like that, or approach at bats that way in the playoffs.

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  9. Padres changing their uni’s again. Going back to the brown and gold colors they had in the beginning. Home uni will have pinstripes with Padres in brown and gold trim.

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    1. Kinda hard to make brown look good. Maybe a darker brown with bright yellow trim.

      As you know, I agree that offense is not the problem. I would like to see as much post season thunder as we see mid summer, but October baseball is a different brand. It’s like Winter League (remember those?) and only the best teams are invited.

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      1. They have a picture of the new Uni’s on the MLB website. The pinstripes look pretty good. The other two just seem like variations on the early 70’s unis……..Happy Veterans day to you Scoop. Thanks for your service my brother…

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    1. I recently posted about all the $Millions the Dodgers have wasted signing Young Cuban players. I think they gave Yordan $2M and within weeks traded him for Josh Fields, who had some good moments, but didn’t pitch this year in MLB. Obviously this was a major screw up trading this monster and a coup by the Astro Front Office. I wonder who was responsible on the Dodger side?

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      1. Well, AF made the trade along with Zaidi. Alvarez was signed by the scouting department. Approved by AF and ownership. So the responsibility lies with the top of the food chain.

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