Supposedly, Major League Baseball and the Players Association are going to meet Thursday to start talking again about their wide and varied interests before getting the 2022 season rolling. We as fans know enough not to hold our collective breath as talks could break down any minute.
And as we are no closer to knowing what free agents the Dodgers could be thinking of signing or any potential trades they might pull off before the start of the season, let’s look at a few players who could make a big impact who didn’t play last season, but are already with the Dodgers.
EDWIN RIOS – Rios has been with the big league team since 2019, but went on the injured list early last May with a shoulder injury. He had successful surgery to repair the partially torn labrum a week later, and should be right on target to start the season healthy.
The corner infielder has been dealing with shoulder issues on and off since college, and now that’s he healthy, should show that power stroke of which Dodgers fans have only gotten glimpses. Rios has 13 home runs in his injury shortened career, but they all have been moonshots with his majestic swing.
With the designated hitter most likely coming to the National League, Rios could definitely see more playing time, both at DH and spelling Justin Turner at third base. A healthy season for Rios would be fun to watch.
TOMMY KAHNLE – Dodger fans have yet to see Kahnle in action, even though he was signed to a two-year, $4.2M deal before the 2021 season. He had undergone Tommy John surgery in July of 2020, and the Dodgers signed him hoping for a big return in 2022.
Jose touched on his possible comeback season in his article on Friday. With the uncertainty of whether either Joe Kelly or Kenley Jansen or neither will return to the Dodgers’ bullpen, and Corey Knebel now with the Phillies, Kahnle can slide into a spot, as a possible set up man to the closer.
Kahnle’s best season was his 2019 season, in which he pitched to a 3.67 ERA, 3.33 FIP and 1.06 WHIP with 88 strikeouts and 20 walks in 61.1 innings over 72 appearances. If he can replicate that, he can make up to $750,000 in bonus money.
CALEB FERGUSON – Joining Kahnle in the Dodgers bullpen should be Ferguson, who is also coming off Tommy John surgery. Caleb underwent his second one in September of 2020, and wanted to return to the team for the playoffs in 2021 but was shut down by the Dodgers.
Ferguson has pitched for the Dodgers for three years, finding his footing as a reliever after not faring well as a starter. In those three seasons, he has a 29.1 percent strikeout rate, and an 8.7 percent walk rate, with 2020 being his best season so far.
Although there is no current timeline for his return, he should be ready to return early in the season if not by Opening Day.