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.