Dodgers Roster: Building a Working Infield

Compared to previous years, the beginning of the upcoming 2023 campaign will be a lot different for the Los Angeles Dodgers because of the uncertainty of which players will see the most regular playing time. Last year, we saw players like Trea Turner and Justin Turner — who have both departed the organization — handle the everyday defensive duties at shortstop and third base, respectively.

Although JTurner is on the downside of his career, he was still a decent defensive option at third base, at least when compared to all the alternatives the team had on the 40-man roster. Missing out on the chance to bring back TTurner was huge, especially when considering the gap the team could have up the middle to start the 2023 season.

Defensively, the infield will be anchored by Freddie Freeman at first base and Will Smith at catcher, but there’s not much written in stone outside of those spots. From what we can tell, Chris Taylor may see most of his time in a thinned-out outfield. In addition, the coaching staff will likely give Gavin Lux all the chances in the world to prove himself as the regular shortstop, leaving Max Muncy, Miguel Vargas and Miguel Rojas to fill in at the other positions.

Where Does Max Muncy Fit?

Muncy isn’t exactly stellar with the glove anywhere you put him, but one would think he would slot in better at second base, although some pundits suggest Vargas could be the better second baseman being that he has slightly better range. Over the course of his four-year minor league career, the righty-hitting Vargas made 205 appearances at the hot corner, 28 at second base, 23 in left field and 14 at first base.

Rojas also hits from the right side of the plate and has primarily played most of his MLB career as a shortstop. Over his nine years as a big leaguer, Rojas has made 719 appearances at short, 99 at third and 73 at the keystone. Although Rojas underwent wrist surgery early this winter to remove a bone formation, all indications are that he’ll be ready when spring camp opens in a few weeks.

There’s definitely a lot of balance with those options, but there’s really not much to write home about offensively, particularly if Muncy doesn’t produce beyond the numbers he put up in 2022. Conceivably, Michael Busch could see some action early in the year, particularly if the club is seeking a spark with the bat.

Designated Hitter Options

Righty-hitting J.D. Martinez will hold down most of the designated hitter responsibilities if healthy. With a career slash-line of .282/.343/.500 against righty pitching and a .306/.377/.579 line against southpaws, the 35-year-old Miami native’s splits are favorable. Still, there’s always the option of having Muncy slide into DH against right-handed pitchers should the matchups favor it.

The early perception might be that the 2023 infield will be a work in process throughout the season with the hopes of building a solid corps just in time for the stretch run of the regular season. For now, should the team stay healthy, we’ll probably see Freeman at first, Lux at short, and some combination of Muncy and Vargas handling the duties at second and third base by the time Opening Day rolls around.

Dodgers Prospect Watch: What Lies Ahead for James Outman?

One of the biggest questions for the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into the 2023 season is the core structure of the outfield. Because we all know that front office boss Andrew Friedman and field skipper Dave Roberts prefer to have plenty of moving pieces, there could be more uncertainty heading into this season than usual as far as the regular playing time goes.

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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.

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Dodgers 2023 Roster: Designated Hitters, Relievers and Other Veteran Additions

While there could conceivably be a few surprises in store later in the winter, all indications are that the Los Angeles Dodgers might be taking a stab at staying under the luxury tax threshold for the 2023 season.

The return of veteran lefty Clayton Kershaw has been the most significant signing of the offseason, although there was a bit of excitement with the recent additions of pitcher Noah Syndergaard and designated hitter J.D. Martinez.

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What Lies Ahead for Cody Bellinger?

While we’ve seen moments of a possible resurgence of a 2019 Bellinger this year, it hasn’t come close to full circle, and fans are starting to become restless about the former MVP’s future.

If you’re ingrained in any Dodger social media space, you’ve probably seen the Jerry Hairston Jr. rant on Bellinger in the Sportsnet LA postgame. Hairston made some excellent points, and with the postseason coming soon, it raises the question of how Bellinger will be used.

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Dodgers Roster: Clayton Kershaw Nearing Return to Starting Rotation

Although there hasn’t been much movement in the National League playoff race — at least from a Dodgers perspective — there could be a lot of news emerging as the calendar turns to September next week.

We’ve been discussing roster expansion for a while, and although there’s only room for one pitcher and one position player, the team could be jockeying a few roster spots to make room for some big-name players.

At the onset of the weekend, we heard that everything looks good for veteran Clayton Kershaw. The lefty threw a three-inning simulated appearance earlier in the week and is expected to toss a similar four-inning outing on Saturday in Miami.

If everything feels good afterwards, Kershaw could start on September 1 against the Mets in the series finale New York, as manager Dave Roberts indicated this week.

“It’s either the option of regular rest, which would be Thursday,” Roberts said. “Or an extra day, which would be Friday. We haven’t decided which yet, but it’s probably going to be one of those two.”

As it stands, it appears that Los Angeles could go with a six-man rotation the rest of the way, allowing the starting pitchers to stay fresh without shutting them down completely — as long as everyone’s health holds up.

Seemingly, the team could face a decision as to who would be the postseason starters between Kersh, Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, Dustin May, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney by the time the playoffs roll around.

Typically, the Dodgers would bump one or two of the extra starters into the bullpen, but the relief corps might be in for some overcrowding of its own.

The last we heard, Blake Treinen continues to throw well in his rehab stint for Triple-A Oklahoma City. There have been a few whispers that the big righty could be activated as soon as September 2.

If Kershaw gets the 27th spot and a position player gets the 28th spot, that means that someone will either need to get placed on the injured list or bumped off the roster entirely to make room for Treinen. One of the first names that comes to mind is Phil Bickford, particularly for a stint on the IL.

In addition, Victor Gonzalez and Tommy Kahnle are progressing through rehab assignments of their own, but whether they have enough time to get up to speed before season’s end remains to be seen.

Roberts has been especially impressed with Gonzalez.

“He’s bouncing back, the stuff is good,” the skipper said. “Everything I’ve heard about Victor has been real positive.”

Dodgers Roster: How Will Outfield Shape Up for 2022 Postseason?

While the Los Angeles starting rotation and bullpen will likely see many significant changes over the next six weeks, the position player portion of the roster could be relatively set.

Sure, there could be a few arguments made for the inclusion of someone like James Outman — or Miguel Vargas, who can play a little outfield — but unless someone goes extremely cold or another injury occurs, the outfielders on the roster right now may be the ones we see come October.

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What Role Will Dustin May Play During 2022 Stretch Run?

Dustin May will join the Dodgers soon. The right-hander is expected to make his season debut next week against the Marlins. May has been out since early last season with Tommy John surgery.

Part of the reason there wasn’t a tremendous sense of urgency among Dodger fans to trade for Luis Castillo or Pablo Lopez at the trade deadline was due to the players the Dodgers were expecting to return from injury.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: Brusdar Graterol, Edwin Rios, Blake Treinen and More

Imagine if you’re a major league manager and your GM tells you there’s an influx of player additions coming in mid-August without even needing to sacrifice any of your organization’s top prospects.
That’s exactly the position the Dodgers are in after standing pat at a busy 2022 tradeline, keeping nearly the entirely of their farm system intact.

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How Will Dodgers Make Room for Chris Taylor?

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.

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