With the number of days leading to Opening Day dwindling, many of the conversations around the baseball blogosphere will shift to the battles for roster spots among many teams across the league. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, most of these questions have already been answered, although there still could be two or three spots that are completely up for grabs.
Seemingly, fans of the Dodgers breathed a collective sigh of relief when the club inked Justin Turner to a two-year contract last month. Had the veteran infielder landed elsewhere, who knows what the team would have done to fill the void at third base. With Turner, Corey Seager and Max Muncy being the pillars of one of the most talented infields in the majors, the roster picture quickly fell into place.
Of course, the competition for the final few bullpen spots is a completely different animal, and we’ll leave those discussions for the last days of spring camp. Nevertheless, it probably won’t hurt to start talking about the bubble spots among all the position players.
According to skipper Dave Roberts, 23-year-old Gavin Lux will likely be given the opportunity to garner most of the reps at second base, relegating Chris Taylor to his super-utility role, albeit the role putting him on the field almost every day. Accordingly, Edwin Rios is almost certainly a roster lock because of his capability to play third, while also providing a legit power threat off the pine from the left side.
So, who are the bubble options among the position players? Zach McKinstry, with his ability to play all over the diamond, is apparently on the inside looking out, while another utility guy like Sheldon Neuse is on the outside looking in, just to provide a bit of perspective.
Another big question is what happens with Keibert Ruiz. It’s possible the team carries three catchers at some point, but that scenario is unlikely unless Ruiz can establish himself as a reasonable offensive threat off the bench. Either way, with Ruiz having arrived late to camp, it almost guarantees that he’ll start the year at Triple-A Oklahoma City, learning all he can from 33-year-old vet Tim Federowicz.
In any event, the final one or two roster spots might very well dwindle down to a competition between Matt Davidson, Matt Beaty, and DJ Peters, all three of whom bring a different dynamic to the team. This is assuming that McKinstry will be included on the Opening Day roster.
Davidson, a 29-year-old righty hitter who can handle duties at both first and third base, has already drawn high praise from Roberts for his ability to pitch. However, Davidson hasn’t seen any consistent playing time since his days with the White Sox back in 2018, when he hit just .228 over 123 games, although he was able to tally a respectable 20 bombs and 23 doubles that same season.
Davidson has no options on his contract, meaning it would be a lot tougher for him to secure a roster spot, as the team would need to first and foremost clear space on the 40-man before anything else. Still, the idea of using the 6-foot-3 native of Yucaipa on the bump is intriguing, even if it’s just in a lopsided affair when the club needs to conserve arms.
As far as Beaty and Peters go, we have two players with two relatively different dynamics, with the primary difference being that both hit from opposite sides of the plate. Defensively, Beaty is much more versatile, despite Peters perhaps having the better overall tools. Both players are on the team’s 40-man roster, and both players have option years on their respective contracts.
Beaty can handle first base, third base, and both corner outfield spots, although there’s a sense the Dodgers still don’t fully trust him at the hot corner. Peters can sufficiently field all three outfield spots.
With regards to offense, Beaty has shown he can deliver big in clutch spots, although he’s basically been mediocre in terms of consistency. In 322 big league plate appearances, Beaty has slashed .258/.311/.441, calculating to a .752 OPS and a 97 OPS+, which are about as average as a big leaguer can get.
Peters, on the other hand, has yet to make his MLB debut, but he certainly brings an element of power to the field. He has hit more than 20 long balls in three of his four minor league seasons, while OPSing over .800 three times as well. His glove is decent, and his arm is top notch. Already, we have seen his exceptional range with a sensational catch in center field against the Rockies last week. Perhaps more importantly, Peters has tallied three walks in nine AB so far this spring, which is perhaps a sign that his perenially high strikeout rate might be improving.
At this stage of the game, though, I personally feel that Beaty might have the slight upper hand on an Opening Day spot because of his previous contributions to the club. However, I think Peters will certainly make his debut at some point this year, collecting his fair share of hacks in the process.
Davidson might be even farther down on the totem pole, but anything is possible, particularly if there is an unfortunate outbreak of injuries or ailments.
13 thoughts on “Better 26-Man Roster Option: Matt Davidson, Matt Beaty, or DJ Peters?”
Davidson’s ability to pitch is interesting but I doubt they need him. I agree that Beaty is trusted with his bat and he is an adequate defender in a couple of infield positions. I also think he might have the inside track on the last roster spot.
I like the idea of Peters. He is a powerful right-handed hitter and can play all 3 Outfield positions well. Pollock has had injury issues as has Bellinger. Taylor does play the outfield well defensively but Peters is probably better. Bellinger can occasionally move to 1st base and Peters could take an outfield spot and play it well. Some of the parks in the West are huge! San Diego, Colorado, San Francisco all have large outfields. A true outfielder off the bench with speed and a plus arm could be very helpful.
But I agree it will probably be Beaty. Roberts is a “Players Manager” he will never make the unpopular decision. Beaty is a known veteran.
Bellinger has not had injury issues. He has been injured a couple of times, but has never missed major time to injury. He did have surgery this winter to stabilize his shoulder after it was dislocated when he did the arm bump with Hernandez. But he still managed to get back in the lineup and hit a homer the very next game he was in. Kelly will most likely not make the team as he is battling shoulder problems. Pollock was totally healthy last year, and came into camp in great shape. I expect him to be out there in left most of the time. Peters has a good shot at the last spot simply because so far, he has been the most consistent RH bat. I think Neuse is going back to AAA. Davidson has no shot at making this roster since they will have to move someone off of the 40 to simply add him. Morrow also will most likely not be ready. They are bringing him along slowly because it has been close to a year since he has pitched. Taylor is an excellent outfielder, but I see him as the super utility guy on this team with his partner being McKinstry who has shown a solid stick and versatility.
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I agree that the likely order from most to least is Beaty, Peters, Davidson although if Neuse gets hot in the next three weeks I wouldn’t totally rule him out. If Lux is the every day 2nd baseman that leaves McKinstry/Rios from the left side and Taylor/Barnes from the right side as bench pieces so the left/right choice as the fifth bench player is probably less important. My reason for picking Beaty over Peters is that I think he is more likely to produce as a pinch hitter. With Peters already having a problem with strike outs if you put him on the bench as a sub that problem will probably only get worse. If Pollock needs to spend time on the DL this season, that would be the time I would call on DJ.
Not sure if I mentioned this here before but Neuse was a pretty good pitcher in college so, if he spends some time on the roster this year, he’s another guy you could use in mop up situations without taxing your regular guys. And by the way, someone needs to tell Sheldon that Bear is not at all convinced that he will be of any use here so he’d better start producing or Big Bear will send him to OKC for sure.
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Maybe if Neuse tried the “one-eye approach” in practice, he would see a significant improvement with his off-speed arsenal. Something to think about.
Just got an email that was misdirected to me. Actually meant for you. Andrew F. wants to offer you a job on the coaching staff as the one-eyed pitcher coach. Pay isn’t much but you get in to all the ballgames. I think you should take it.
Tell Friedman to call my office between noon and 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday. I’ve been in contact with Adam Liberatore. Apparently, he’s willing to come back on a minor league deal. Says his arm feels better than ever.
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Maybe I’ll recommend to him that he start throwing with an eye patch.
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This kind of strategy is exactly why AF wants you. I think you need to do a study as to whether there is a relationship between which eye you should cover vs. which arm you throw with.
I’ll see if I can line up a medical journal and a baseball blog to print your conclusions.
Just heard from Bauer. He’d be happy to be a paid consultant. Looking for a little extra income.
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Bear I agree with you about everything except Bellinger has had shoulder issues. That is why they moved him to the outfield originally as he had jammed his shoulder playing first base. Hopefully, they were able to repair his socket and tighten it up. Many people have “loose shoulder joints” and are prone to dislocation. It is harmful as when the shoulder dislocates it stretches the structure around it and can injure the tendons etc.
Pollock was injury-free last year and was outstanding. He has rarely had an injury-free year. He has been one of those guys that get injured.
I agree that it will be McKinstry and Beaty. Peters hopefully will be first back from OKC. I like Peters so far he has shown patience at the plate. It had been reported he worked hard at the site last year on his plate discipline, swing, and making contact. We shall see. Fun to speculate though!
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Yes he has, but that was repaired over the winter. But he has still never lost major time to an injury. Those are the facts. And it certainly did not affect his hitting or his fielding. The past is the past. You cannot factor it in now because until it happens, it hasn’t.
If the 26th man on your roster is an average major leaguer, that’s pretty good. Beaty seems like he can really hit so he might improve substantially with more at bats. He is clutch, has good power, but can ease up and get a single or double when you need a hit or just make contact when you need it. So I like him. That said if there is proof that Peters has substantially cut down on his strikeouts – look out.
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Price will get his first playing time after Urias today.