The Curious Case of Alex Verdugo

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Besides the Dodgers pitching staff, anther place on their roster the Dodgers have a plethora of players is the outfield.

Last Friday, I wrote about the Dodgers’ 26 man roster and where A.J. Pollock fit into that scenario. In addition to Pollock, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez, and Alex Verdugo all look to see time roaming the outfield.

The linchpin to all this really is Verdugo. The 23-year-old outfielder first came up to the big leagues in 2017 with the wave of September call-ups. He only appeared in 15 games, gathering only four hits, one of which was a home run.

2018 saw increased playing time, but not by much. He played in 36 major league games, spending the rest of his time in Triple-A Oklahoma City. The batting improved, hitting .260 in the Majors and .329 in OKC. There wasn’t room for him in the Majors yet, since Matt Kemp was back and having his comeback year.

The Kid finally got to the Majors to stay in 2019, breaking spring training with the team. Verdugo opened some eyes, slashing .294/342/.475/.812 with 12 home runs. More than his production with the bat, he showed his versatility on defense, logging games at all three positions in the outfield. He spent 61 games in center, often filling in for the injured Pollock.

But most of what Verdugo brings to the team is the sense of spark, a little ego that is needed sometimes to fire a team up. He often yelled “Don’t let the Kid get hot!” after getting a big hit in a key spot or after one of his home runs. There’s a big consensus among fans that his absence in the lineup hindered the Dodgers last postseason.

The reason that energy wasn’t in the lineup has those same fans worried about the upcoming season. Verdugo played in his last game of the 2019 season on August 4 after suffering an oblique injury. At first, he was only projected to be out about two weeks. He did a rehab stint with the rookie-level Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League. During that time, he was also experiencing back stiffness that turned into a bigger problem. He has been shut down from baseball activities ever since. Alex detailed his frustration on Sportsnet LA:

“Yeah, I think there’s a lot of frustration. But at the end of the day it’s your back. I think anybody who’s had back injuries or something wrong with their back, they understand you use everything with your back. Any activity you do, your back helps you with a lot of it. You kind of do one little thing and you realize the toll it takes on everything else. It is frustrating but at the end of the day all I can do is stay positive and be blessed that I’m going in the right direction.”

The front office says that they’re not worried about Verdugo being able to make it back to day-to-day readiness before the season starts, but management did admit that it was at first unaware with how serious the back injury was.

But, as of this writing, there is less than a month until Spring Training starts and a little over two months until the regular season begins on March 26th. That’s not a lot of time to get yourself ready for the season, if your back is still giving you issues. At this point, while the words said may give to the contrary, it does not seem like Verdugo will be ready to start the season in good health.

The Dodgers are lucky that they are such a deep team that they can absorb the loss of someone who would’ve been a full time starter in right field, and could do so for the foreseeable future. While that is great, it still doesn’t address that spark plug missing from the lineup and on the bench, as Verdugo most likely will be rehabbing elsewhere.

In the end, it probably won’t matter. As stated, this is a deep team, and it is very good. They are projected to have little problem winning the NL West (and after all the nonsense with the Astros and the 2017 World Series, probably have enough fodder for the whole season). It just will matter that The Kid is back and ready for the playoffs in good health.

Time is on his side, even if this injury is taking a long time to heal itself. He most likely will come back stronger than ever and this will have just been a long blip. But it’s definitely sometime to keep an eye on.

 

28 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Alex Verdugo

  1. Back problems are a bitch, I speak from experience. I’ve had knee injuries and shoulder surgeries, recovered from all of them and went on to enjoy playing sports. Back injuries are a whole different ballgame, they never really totally leave you, in fact they can improve at times but can rear up and smack you down for almost no reason. I don’t know what exactly is the diagnosis is for Verdugo, but I’d say, it is likely any recovery will be short of 100 percent or will likely be short lived. He is young and that will give him some resiliency but his days are numbered as far as being what he could of and should of been. I hope I am wrong, but I have seen a number of doctors, both in my youth and now not in my youth, and had surgeries and procedures on my back, all have proven to be less than satisfactory. Sleeping in chairs is no fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m inclined to agree. He’s young. Hopefully he will recover.

      I thought the same thing about Kershaw. How can he do what he does with a bad back? I don’t know. But he does.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m still surprised Downs rates above Gonsolin, Ruiz and Gray. A line that stands out to me is the one that says he easily hit balls over 400’, including 6 home runs to right field. The guy weighs 180. He’s only 21. He’s listed as SS/2B. Downs Lux up the middle in ‘22?

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  3. Attention….. IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED… A friend of mine has two tickets for the 2020 Super Bowl, both box seats. He paid $11,500 each. It comes with ride to and from the airport, lunch, dinner and $400.00 bar tab. Also a back stage pass to the winners locker room. He didn’t realize last year when he bought them, it was going to be on the same day as his wedding. If you are interested, he is looking for someone to take his place… It’s at St Paul’s Church, in Orlando at 3pm. Her name is Ashley. She’s 5’4″, about 115 lbs, and a good cook too. She loves to fish and hunt. She’ll be the one in the white dress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I don’t think it is. I’m trying to calm it all before it boils after like last time. Just Doesn’t Matter, consider this a warning

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      1. You’re the only one who thinks it is funny, and other have stated they don’t like it. So I’d appreciate if you’d refrain from that in the future

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  4. It was a joke…and a pretty good one, although I have read that on facebook. Looks like Arenado is not a happy camper at all. He really unloaded on the Rockies in general. But I would not get my hopes up per a trade. Rocks would never deal him to LA.

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    1. A joke? I don’t get it. I agree with Rich.

      Arenado has an opt out that makes any trade for him risky. He tests free agency in a couple years. His situation is similar to Lindor’s. I say we stay the course and develop our own. We are ahead of the curve with development of young talent so I’m confident we can get home grown guys that will peak in a Dodger uniform. It’s the smart thing to do. And if the right free agent becomes available and wants to play here? Write the check.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course the Super Bowl joke was a joke. I thought you were referring to ijdm’s off color comment was a joke. My mistake.

        Back to Arenado, I wonder if he would like to play here? Maybe what he really wants is to play for a winner. He’s already guaranteed stoopid money, he’s from OC (his high school is a par 4 from my house) maybe if we just guaranteed a no trade and extended him a couple years, like we did with Kershaw, it would be enough to keep him here. If he would do that he’s worth 3 top prospects. I think the Rockies would take less to send him as far from the NL West as possible, but they have to know they limited their own options by offering him what they did.

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  5. He already has a no-trade clause but I’m not sure if he agrees to be traded if that voids it for the future. I would guess it does not, so he would still have it. I doubt it would take a two year extension to get him to agree to come here. Maybe a one-year extension or a trade bonus for coming. The problem would be in getting him to waive his opt out after 2021. My guess is he would be happy to do that as well to come here. The problem would be getting the Rox to send him inside the division and what players they would demand. Based on what Arenado said yesterday, they’re going to have to trade him now.

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  6. Are we willing to give them something like Ruiz, Gray and Downs for Arenado? Probably. Would someone else beat that? Maybe. If we get him, that means JT goes to first, Muncy to second and Lux is odd man out unless they then trade Seager. Maybe we don’t gain all that much by trading for him now and hope he might be available in two years as a free agent. Lots of possibilities, none of them perfect.

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    1. His contract goes through 2026, his age 35 season. His opt out is after the ‘21 season. An extension of the contract gives more years past the ‘26 season. Between ‘22 and ’26 he is scheduled to make $164 million. Maybe that’s enough, maybe he would want more, I have no idea, but what I suggested was we offer something like we did with Kershaw when he chose to opt out. The point I’m trying to make is maybe it’s not about the money, maybe he just wants out of Colorado. We could wait until he’s a free agent, his age 31 year, and offer a large 5 year contract, knowing somebody will no doubt offer more, and hope he wants to play for the Dodgers. Colorado won’t trade him to the Dodgers unless we overpay for him. Friedman won’t do that.

      The question remains – what does he want?

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      1. He certainly wants out of Colorado. His contract gives him a say in where he goes and our main competition would have probably been the Angels, but that is no longer a problem because of Rendon.
        There are a few teams who could handle his contract, the Cards and Rangers among them. Question is, does he pick one of them if he’s made to understand that the Rox won’t trade him to us or does he hang in there a couple of years and then pick the team he wants after opting out. I’m guessing he would OK a trade to the Cards and quite possibly to the Rangers. Also not really sure AF would do what it takes to get him in a trade. Long story short, I don’t expect to see him in a Dodger uni and I’m really not sure how I feel about that.

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  7. That would be a lot of salary for the Braves to commit to, but you never know. I think the Cards and the Rangers are much more likely to take on a contract of that size.
    I know his opt out goes with him. I was questioning whether his no-trade clause goes with him. In other words, if he agrees to be traded to the Cards is any future no-trade voided or would he have to approve a trade from the Cards to another team in the future.

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    1. I believe the no trade does go with him. Don’t know why it wouldn’t. There are only a few teams who could afford him, so he would get to veto a trade to one he wouldn’t like. Again, I have no idea what he’s thinking other than he wants out of Colorado. He’s got the money already, I’m sure he wants to win. He grew up a Dodger fan. Come on home Nolan.

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