Los Angeles Dodgers Roster: Let’s Talk 2023 Lineups

Although many fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers wait patiently for Trevor Bauer’s fate with the team, there’s a good chance the roster will go relatively unchanged otherwise as the club heads into spring training, which is now approximately six weeks away.

Of course, there are several scenarios that could provide the Dodgers with a bit of salary relief, particularly if they find a trade partner to offset part of the $22 million they still owe Bauer.

J.D. Martinez vs. Justin Turner

One of the most intriguing signings of the offseason was veteran designated hitter J.D. Martinez. It was interesting mainly because it was one of the key indicators that the club wants to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold for the upcoming year.

By not picking up Justin Turner’s $16 million team option for 2023, the club essentially saved $6 million when they inked Martinez to a one-year, $10 million contract. Turner and Martinez’s critical numbers for 2022 were nearly identical, as Turner slashed .278/.350/.438 with 13 homers over 532 plate appearances, while Martinez hit .274/.341/.448 with 16 long balls in 596 PA.

2023 Starting Rotation

Even though the prospective 2023 roster appears quite solid, it’s not as extravagant as some of the Dodger teams we’ve seen in recent years. For the first time in several seasons, the club will likely depend on a core of young prospects who will be tested early and often, indicating their true value as the team pushes towards another playoff appearance.

We’ve talked about the starting rotation quite a bit with Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Noah Syndergaard, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May making up the core five should the injury bug stay away during the season’s early stages. Should the club stay put as far as player personnel goes, that means arms like Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Andre Jackson, Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone could be depended upon heavily as the season progresses.

Daily Lineups

As far as batting orders go, here’s something I recently dreamed up:

  1. Betts RF
  2. Vargas 3B
  3. Freeman 1B
  4. Smith C
  5. Muncy 2B
  6. Martinez DH
  7. Thompson CF
  8. Lux SS
  9. Taylor LF

I hesitate to say Opening Day lineup because I doubt skipper Dave Roberts will let Miguel Vargas start the season in the two-hole, but I think it’s a spot that he or Gavin Lux could settle into by the end of the season, mainly because Chris Taylor, Max Muncy or even Martinez strike out so frequently to be productive there. Vargas has shown excellent talent in the minors with bat-to-ball contact, but it could take some time to translate at the big-league level.

Coincidentally, Martinez struck out 145 times last year compared to Turner’s 89 in about 64 more at-bats.

Importance of Keeping Freddie Freeman in the 3-Hole

For as many fans who have suggested Freddie Freeman shift back to the two-hole, let’s not forget how the team caught fire when Roberts moved him back to the three-hole in late spring. Hitting in the second spot in 2022, Freeman slashed an impressive .299/.383/.480 in 373 PA. However, hitting third last year, he hit an insane .355/.433/.547 in 335 PA.

That’s a difference of about +120 points in the OPS department.

In addition, it’s probably safe to say that Roberts has finished experimenting with Mookie Betts away from the leadoff spot for similar reasons.

Anyway, hopefully everyone is having a great start to the New Year. We should know a little more about where Bauer stands when the decision comes in later this week.

43 thoughts on “Los Angeles Dodgers Roster: Let’s Talk 2023 Lineups

  1. I like your line up. Do you think Outman and Busch make the roster? This team should make the playoffs and give the young guys needed experience. The pitching coming up Stone, Miller have great potential.

    1. I think there’s a good chance Outman makes it. Depending on how many outfielders they decide to carry, Heyward and Outman might both make it, as long as Heyward proves he can contribute. My best guess is that Busch sees action by mid-summer. If Busch proves he can handle left field at the big league level, that increases his chances of settling in as a permanent fixture.

  2. I am in favor of bringing up the young guys As I have stated why spend all the time and resources on the Farm if u aren’t going to use them? That would make no sense!!!
    Appears the Dodgers are attempting to reset their Luxury Tax. Rumors point to them taking a run at Ohtani but who knows. Resetting the penalty is good business though.

  3. Happy New Year everyone.

    I’m amazed at the comments I’ve seen on various blogs and how ready so many fans are to play the young kids. I wonder how long their patience will last if any or all of them get off to bad starts.

    I’m ready to make this a total reset year if necessary, both CBT wise and prospect wise. In other words, I’m ready to give the young guys a fairly long leash, especially Vargas. I’d sit him down in Spring Training and tell him he’s going to be in the lineup for three months on a regular basis, no matter what the results are.

    Most lineups I’ve seen have Vargas at 3rd and Max at 2nd. I wonder if there’s a chance that those two spots are reversed and that Max winds up spending most of the year at 3rd and Miggy at 2nd. I’ve got to think that ultimately Vargas is going to be the one with more range so maybe he’s the guy who should be at 2nd.

    If we cut Bauer loose or manage to trade him, I expect Andrew to sign another veteran pitcher. Who that might be, I have no clue, but it might be someone who could both start and relieve.

    These next 6 weeks are going to go very slowly for me. Looking forward to pitchers and catchers reporting.

    1. Happy new year everyone. I’m always in agreement that we should give the youngsters a real opportunity to play. Outside of Vargas I don’t see any prospects that will have any impact on this roster. Outman and busch are just career minor leaguers as are most of the rest of our so called prospects. Good luck if Vargas and Lux can’t contribute, and we have any pitching injuries. Actually can hardly wait to see how the 26 man roster plays out. Also hope I’m wrong about these prospects for once. Naw. Never happen

      1. Have you been able to identify any other prospects in the system you have high hopes for, Gordon? You seem to think Vargas has a slight chance. What about Miller or Stone or Pages or any others?

        You’ll be happy to know that Andrew has just declared he’s releasing all prospects in the system who are older than 23. 🙂

      2. Well jeff Andrew is finally getting with the program . If you are looking for prospects who are going to be full time position players I don’t see any in the system except maybe Vargas. Pages, Vivas and cartayla are young and I don’t pay much attention until age 22/23. Outman is a journyman( maybe) Busch has a small chance but I doubt it. Pitching? They couldn’t get miller out of doubleA, because he was getting bombed. Better in tripleA. Love stone. Pepoit, jackson and Grove will make good bottom of the rotation (7 or 8) in Pittsburg. There that should help Andrew out but of course he already knows all this. Our farm system has been pretty pathetic the past 6 or 7 years except fir a few pitchers. And it proves my point that a good farm system doesnt often result in good players. Just ask the padres. Lol

      3. OK, so it looks like you’ve identified Vargas and Stone as the two most likely to make it among the guys who aren’t really young.

        I’m in agreement on that, although I’m not dismissing the others the way you are.

        Some guys mature later than others and as long as we keep finishing in the top few in the standings we aren’t going to get the best draft picks.

      4. You are absolutely right Jeff. Drafting #28/40 each year catches up to you although I’ve never seen anything to suggest there is much of an advantage drafting #10 over #28. The team has been built on a couple of dfa sighnings, trades and free agents and middle of the rotation drafts. And some players do develope later, but when your farm consists of 25 year old career minor leaguers that you are hoping will be late bloomers, I get concerned. Actually I’ve been concerned for 5 years as you know, although those players I was concerned about 5 years ago are long gone.

      5. So if we put you in charge of the Dodger organization, how would you change the way they operate, Gordon?

        Consider your answer carefully, because I have tremendous influence with Mark Walter.

      6. You should factor in Covid. Most minor leaguers lost at least a year and some 1 1/2. Also college position players seem to need time to acclimate to the Farm. All the reports talk about Busch’s swing but he has had to struggle at the start of each level. Most guys need time to adjust to a new league and it’s level of competition. And the Dodger line up being stacked slows advancement. Many of these guys would be playing on other less talented teams.

      7. While that’s somewhat true tmaxster it’s also true fir every other young player in the league, and you are also right about slower advancement on a better team except the best rookies are often on the best teams. You can’t hold back a sure fire 23 year old on any team but a marginal player is still kicking around the minors at age 25 on a good team. If you take the best 50 players in the league very few of them weren’t in the “Bigs” at age 23 (ie kersh and may”. Not always true as some do break out later but you can’t develope your farm team based on a hope ond a prayer.

  4. My lineup would be a little different
    1 Betts
    2 Lux
    3 Freeman
    4 Martinez
    5 Muncy
    6 Smith
    7 Vargas
    8 Outman/Thompson platoon
    9 Taylor

    One question about Thompson would be would his reverse numbers, better against RHP continue? If he doesn’t hit LHP then the platoon won’t make sense. But I think Outman as a LH hitter gets a chance to play with Thompson more of a 4th OF backing up all 3 OF positions.
    If Busch has a good spring and shows he can handle LF, I could also see a potential platoon with Taylor.
    Happy New Year

  5. Estimates I read say Dodgers are approximately
    .7 M under CBT payroll for 23 after estimating everything. Do they stand pat? Read they might make a trade to guarantee resetting CBT. Interesting I am fine with doing a reset and playing the rookies.

    1. I’m guessing they trade Mookie back to the Red Sox for Conner Wong. That’ll save a boatload of money.

      1. Yep LOL that would certainly save some $ and Conner can take the outfield spot! If it came down to a contract I would trade Taylor and his 12M. He should be tradable and the Dodgers have Busch and or Amaya that can play the infield.
        It does look like they are serious about resetting CBT> I do not blame them as one article I read stated the team has paid over 210 million in CBT penalties. That is money off of the profit line. Not good business and next year would be 50% penalty I believe.
        As stated before the current roster should get us into the playoffs and 22 proved that the best record is not imperative.

      2. CT3’s salary in 2023 is 15 million, followed by two years at 13 million followed by a team option for 12 million or a 4 mil buyout.

        At a minimum that’s a 45 million obligation that no team is going to take on without the Dodgers making a nice contribution.

      3. They have budgeted this far to stay under the CBT. If AF can make a deal with someone and pick up a part of a players salary especially if its in 24 & 25 to make sure they stay under then they might. Its a smart play to get under and reset. At least now they know what Bauer will cost them.

  6. Resetting the CBT is also important so we don’t lose draft picks. Play the kids. See how they do and make adjustments at the trade deadline. Only need 88 to 90 wins to make the playoffs.

    1. I have no problem with playing the kids but I think we only lose draft picks if we go over the third (highest) dollar number. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

      1. My mistake.
        “Non monetary penalties” remain. A team that exceeds the lowest threshold by $40 million will have their highest draft pick not among the top six picks moved back 10 slots.
        So we don’t lose draft picks by exceeding the CBT. They just get moved back. Teams lose draft picks by signing free agents that have received the qualifying offer. Llive and learn.

  7. Gordon, I think you may be a bit hasty in targeting Outman and Busch as career minor leaguers at this point. I believe both were drafted in 2019 and didn’t have the benefit of playing in 2020. They have made steady progress advancing up the minor league ladder and both had outstanding seasons in 2022. But both need to make a difference in the near future especially Outman since our OF is currently thin. Busch who has primarily been a 2B and 1B with a little LF experience is blocked by Freeman and Muncy so needs to be ready when an opportunity presents itself.

  8. So the farm system has been pathetic the last 7-8 years? Pederson, Seager, Bellinger, Smith, Lux, Buehler, Urias, May, Gonsolin with more ready to make their mark this year or next year. Don’t count out Keibert Ruiz being a solid ML catcher for many years for Washington and Oneil Cruz traded to Pirates might be a star.

    1. Well it actually has been pathetic the past 7/8 years, with the exception of Smith who has been a godsend. And I did mention they have drafted some good middle of the rotation pitchers..so how would you describe 1 catcher and a maybe a second base/ shortstop over 7/8 years ? NOt pathetic? AND I might mention the players you mention from 10/11 nears ago were playing in the majors when they were 22/23years old, even the two hit wonder Bellinger.

  9. I do no think Taylor is going to be the everyday left fielder. He is better suited for the super utility role. Coming off of a year in which he suffered multiple injury’s, and the fact that he is a strikeout machine, he has no business being out there every day.

  10. Right now Betts is the only every day OF. I don’t see Thompson as an everyday solution. Outman if he can hit LHers otherwise he will platoon.

    Now if they decide to play Muncy at 3B and Taylor/Busch at 2B than maybe Vargas in LF as a full time LF.

    A lot to figure out in spring training.

    1. No way do I want to see Vargas in the outfield. He and Lux both looked totally lost out there when they were played in that position. He is an infielder. Keep him there.

  11. I’m with bear, Taylor seems to do better in the super utility role. I was thinking, if the team is up against the salary cap at this moment, doesn’t that mean if Heyward, or any of the other minor league invites are brought onto the team, won’t that push the team over the salary cap? Unless they can move some of Bauers money, which doesn’t look very promising.

    1. I believe the Cubs are on the hook for most all of Heyward’s salary, so if we put him on the MLB roster it will probably be at MLB minimum or very close to it. That would also mean we’d have to remove someone making about the same $ so, if I’m correct, they could add him without it causing a problem.

      1. If he gets to the majors, it will be for the major league minimum. Since he was released, Cubs on the hook for the remaining portion of his deal.

      1. He probably has little trade value after last season’s mediocre performance. His versatility is where his value lies, but he needs to hit much better than last year.

      2. They’d have to pick up enough of his salary so that it doesn’t pay to trade him now. Chances are he’s back to the normal CT3 in 2023 and we’ll be happy to have him.

      3. If you were another team, would you be willing to take on his 45 million contract?
        You’d certainly ask for a fair amount of salary relief, at which point it probably doesn’t pay to sell low and move him now.

    1. Nobody, and I mean nobody is going to pick up that 45 million he is still owed. The Dodgers would be on the hook for a major portion of that. After the debacle that was last season, no one wants a guy who strikes out that much.

  12. Thanks Jeff, I had forgot the cubs released Heyward. Going over the cap is probably something we can worry about discussing after we see what happens on the sixth.

    1. The only thing that would affect salary with Bauer is if they found a trade partner and only had to eat part of his salary. If they keep him or just release him, nothing changes on the CBT total.

      We’ll have some answers by Friday but not all, because they could still add him to the roster and then eliminate him later.

      If they really want to get rid of him, they should convince him to opt out and run for Speaker of the House. I hear there’s an opening there.

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