With most of baseball’s current news surrounding Tuesday’s summer trade deadline, the Dodgers find themselves in somewhat of a unique position because of the potential influx of players returning from the injured list.
For weeks now, it seems like we’ve been discussing player returns from the pitching perspective — see players like Blake Treinen, Dustin May and Brusdar Graterol — however, many of us have forgotten about some of the position players who could provide an impact upon their returns, specifically super-utility man Chris Taylor.
While Taylor’s left foot fracture has kept him on the shelf for nearly a month, he is getting closer to a return. The 31-year-old righty hitter will begin his rehab stint with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, as OKC is set to start a long six-game set against Salt Lake City on the road.
Skipper Dave Roberts told reporters on Sunday that he expects Taylor’s rehab to last at least seven games, giving the team an extended look at outfielder James Outman on both sides of the ball. Because of the new roster rules limiting the number of pitchers, we know that Taylor will be replacing a position player on the roster upon his return.
After Outman’s phenomenal debut performance against the Rockies in last weekend’s series finale, it’s tough to imagine the team optioning the youngster back to OKC, particularly if he continues to produce offensively. However, Taylor’s return will come at a time when the club seemingly begins auditioning players for the playoff stretch and deciding if position players like Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Trayce Thompson will be part of the postseason roster.
With the regular season concluding on October 5, it gives players on the active roster a little over two months to prove their respective values. Although minor, there still could be a chance Outman comes back later for the playoffs, if his services aren’t needed beforehand due to an injury.
While there’s plenty of speculation on how the postseason’s starting rotation and bullpen fills out, we mostly have a good idea on how the position player portion of the roster will look, unless Andrew Friedman blows the baseball world away by acquiring someone like Juan Soto before Tuesday’s deadline.
As it stands, Muncy is hitting .161 in 339 plate appearances this year, although his OBP is much more respectable at .310, thanks to his ability to draw so many walks. Bellinger is hitting .207 with a dismal .267 OBP in 374 plate appearances.
Something else to consider is the potential return of Edwin Rios, who is continuing a lengthy two-week rehab with Oklahoma City. Rios is a Blackhorse at this point to make the playoff roster, but we’ve seen crazier things happen in the past.
Regardless, once Tuesday night rolls around, we should have at little more clear idea of how things might shape up for the stretch run.