5 Big Questions Surrounding Dodgers’ 2021 Infield

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

Without question, the Dodgers still boast one of the most talented rosters in baseball heading into the 2021 campaign, even though there is still work to do regarding player personnel.

The infield is one area that certainly needs to be addressed. If healthy, Corey Seager and Max Muncy will anchor the crew as two of the most potent offensive contributors in the National League. However, the way the remainder of the infield shapes up will probably depend on how several different situations pan out.

Here are five big questions that might ultimately determine which infielders suit up for the Dodgers on Opening Day.

Will Justin Turner Return?

Whether Justin Turner comes back to the Dodgers is undoubtedly one of the most popular conversations among fans so far this winter. Last weekend, we outlined how Turner is reportedly seeking a three-year deal and how a long-term contract might prevent the Dodgers from securing his services. However, there are still some indications that both sides might be able to reach an agreement. Regardless, Turner’s ultimate decision will definitely be the primary factor on how the left side of the infield looks next year.

Without Turner, the team could look to award the lion’s share of playing time to Edwin Rios or even create a platoon scenario with Rios and utility man Chris Taylor. Still, if Turner does indeed return for an unspecified period, it gives the organization more time to let players like Kody Hoese mature in the minors. Either way, this is one of the most significant questions looming.

Should Dodgers Offer Enrique Hernandez a Deal?

No doubt, losing Enrique Hernandez would be a blow to the club’s active roster, especially with regards to defensive flexibility. But, with Taylor signed through the 2021 campaign, it does create a bit of redundancy as far as utility players go. According to most reports, Hernandez is willing to settle for a one-year deal for the upcoming season to seemingly garner a bigger payday for 2022. His thinking here is that clubs might not be as financially strained a full year removed from the pandemic. The problem is that Hernandez is requesting 500 AB from his new team, a commitment that probably doesn’t suit the Dodgers well, unless they somehow envision Kiké as the everyday second baseman. That said, the prospects for Hernandez returning to Los Angeles are not overwhelmingly good, opening the door for players like Gavin Lux, Zach McKinstry or even the newly acquired Carlos Asuaje to secure spots on the active roster.

Is Lux Ready for a Full-Time Role?

Whether it was factors surrounding the pandemic or some other unknown reason, Lux, who was initially viewed as one of the favorite 2020 NL Rookie of the Year candidates, never even made the Los Angeles Opening Day roster. Even during Lux’s early days at the alternate training site, he struggled with his mechanics and timing both offensively and defensively, preventing him from seeing playing time at the big league level. Finally, the 23-year-old Wisconsin native was recalled at the end of August, but he was still only selected to one of the team’s four rounds of postseason rosters.

Nevertheless, if you’re a believer in predictors, Steamer has Lux playing 99 games in 2021, garnering 399 PA with a .259/.325/.431 slash line and 13 long balls next year. Indeed, if Lux proves that he’s ready for a full-time role, it will give the club the flexibility it needs in other positions.

Is Taylor a Legit, Everyday Contributor?

In 2017, Taylor emerged as one of the team’s biggest surprises, tallying a .288/.354/.496 slash line with 21 homers over 568 PA in 140 games. In 2018, he appeared in 155 games, despite an early-season slump that saw him struggle for the first few months of the year. During his career with the Dodgers, he has proven valuable as one of the team’s best producers in clutch situations time in and time out.

While Taylor is probably more comfortable as a shortstop or second baseman, he has shown in the past that he has the tools to handle third base, at least in a stopgap situation. If Turner does not return and things don’t necessarily go well for Rios, Taylor could be a viable solution at the hot corner. Nevertheless, with Taylor locked into an everyday role, it handcuffs the club as far as moving players around the diamond goes. Accordingly, with CT3 in the lineup every night, it could theoretically minimize the amount of time players like Rios, Lux or McKinstry see on the field. Consequently, keeping Taylor in his current super-utility role may even see the team pursue somebody like free-agent infielder DJ LaMahieu, especially if management feels that Lux isn’t the immediate answer at the keystone.

Will Dodgers Lock Up Seager?

Whether the team views Seager as its long-term shortstop may also indicate how the roster shapes up over the course of next season. Due to become a free agent at the end of 2021, there has been plenty of speculation surrounding a potential long-term deal for the 26-year-old Charlotte native. Even if the Dodgers do secure his services, there’s still the theory that he might eventually move to third base, creating yet another vacancy in the infield. Such questions have led to rumors surrounding players like Francisco Lindor, and recently, free agent shortstop Marcus Semien.

Seager might very well have been the team’s offensive MVP in 2020, having hit .307/.358/.585 during the regular season and .328/.425/.746 in the playoffs. He combined for 23 long balls over 70 games, eventually securing the MVP awards of both the NLCS and World Series. Imagining a 2022 infield without both Turner and Seager is definitely a difficult picture to digest.

13 thoughts on “5 Big Questions Surrounding Dodgers’ 2021 Infield

  1. JP Morosi reporting this morning that the Rox definitely are not anxious to ship us Arenado (no surprise there) and are hoping to engage the Mets in trade talks. He mentioned that possibly Cano would be part of a deal to help defray some of the salary and then maybe Nimmo and another prospect. That would be a spectacular deal for the Mets although I think Colorado might do better somewhere else. Imagine if the Mets would add Arenado and Springer to their lineup along with what they already have in guys like Alonso, Conforto and McNeil.

    Since it’s Hot Stove time, we have endless conversations about the future of Seager in a Dodger uni. I wonder what AF is thinking? I can guarantee you that he has a plan in mind already, but I have no idea what that might be. We’ll just have to let it all play out.

    With regard to CT3 at third, I get the definite feeling that they really don’t like to play him there and much prefer him at short, second or left field. I don’t think they’ll go into 2021 with that as anything but a last alternative. If JT doesn’t return (and I still think he will and will share time at third with Rios), I think Andrew will trade for someone else to man that position.

  2. As for Lux, he had better be ready since I honestly believe this is his one and only shot to win the starting job. He doesn’t and Busch is in the wings waiting. We are saved! Dodgers signed Fed-Ex to a minor league deal! YAY…where is Tyler White when I need him?? Oh yeah, he signed with the Jays. MLB has designated the Negro Leagues as a Major League…I would guess that means that the stats they can verify become official.

    1. I don’t want you to panic Bear, but Tyler White does not have a no trade clause in his deal. We could still get him at the trade deadline.

      1. Whew! That is good news. The news about the Negro Leagues means that since the league is now classified as a major league, all the stats, players and records become official. That means guys like Paige, Gibson,Bell, all will have their names next to their peers.

  3. Some minor deals going down. Perdomo ready to sign a minor league pact with the Brewers. And Anthony DeSclafini signs a one year 6 million dollar deal with the Giants. Some are saying the Rocks best trading partner for Arenado is the Mets. Maybe so, but Arenado has a full no trade and would have to approve the deal. Not a given since he is a west coast guy.

      1. He would help them some. And 7 mil seems about right. I have heard few rumors. AF held a video conference with Alanna. He maintained that they need help on the pen, and a RH hitter. He would like Turner to return if he wants to but if not, he will most likely pursue a trade to fill the position. Supposedly the Rockies would like the Mets to enter the Arenado bidding. They would much rather trade him out of the division. But, Arenado has a full no trade and can veto any deal. Not sure he would want to go to the meat grinder in New York since he is a west coast guy. There is talk that if a deal was struck that Cano would have to be part of the deal.

  4. Jonathan Holder to sign with the Cubs. Dodgers signed Andrew Schwaab to a minor league deal. RH side arm pitcher who has pitched in the Yankee, Red Sox and Tiger organizations. He has 50 career minor league saves.

  5. I would love to see the Reds and Dodgers pull off another blockbuster deal. Dodgers get Suarez for 3rd base and Castillo as SP, Reds get Lux and 2 or 3 other prospects they want.

    1. In order to get that deal done I think we’d have to include May or Gray. Not sure if they’d want Gray back since they sent him to us in the first place and I’m not sure if AF would be willing to include May. You never know what Andrew might be cooking up and we could sure do worse than to add those two guys.

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