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.

Should Dodgers Try to Extend Julio Urias?

Aside from bringing back veteran utility infielder Miguel Rojas, not much has happened on the Los Angeles Dodgers player personnel front since the team officially bounced Trevor Bauer from the roster last week.

Although the club is on the hook for the approximately $22.5 million of Bauer’s 2022 salary, all indications are that the team will attempt to stay under the luxury tax threshold for the upcoming season. A move last week that somewhat affected the budget was an agreement on a one-year, $14.25 million deal with starter Julio Urias, allowing the 26-year-old lefty to avoid the arbitration process in his final season before free agency.

We really haven’t heard anything concrete regarding serious extension talks between the Dodgers and the Mexican native, which you might consider surprising depending on how you look at it. Nevertheless, with Clayton Kershaw on the downside of one of the MLB’s most prolific careers, and Walker Buehler having to sit out the upcoming year due to UCL surgery, there’s no question that Urias will play the role of Dodgers Ace for 2023, at least for the early part of the season.

Urias has been nothing but stellar since recovering from a serious shoulder surgery procedure that saw him miss the entirety of the 2018 season. Even though he surprisingly has never made an All-Star team, he ended up finishing in the Top 10 Cy Young Award voting the last two campaigns, including a third-place finish last year.

Although Urias has been an iron man as far as the Dodgers’ starting standards go — 185-2/3 innings in 2021 and 175 innings in 2022 — it was his lack of innings pitched that saw him finish behind Max Fried and winner Sandy Alcantara in the CYA voting last season.

Regardless, last year was undoubtedly the best campaign of Urias’s career, having produced a 0.960 WHIP and an NL-leading 2.16 ERA and a 194 ERA+ over 31 starts.

A few seasons back, it looked like the game was beginning to steer away from a traditional five-man rotation where each guy would throw his heart out each night. However, the Dodgers have been one of the few who have stuck with the traditional starting pitching concept, even though Los Angeles pitchers are seemingly throwing fewer innings as each year passes by.

In 2022, Urias averaged 5.65 innings pitched per game over his 31 starts.

The upcoming season has one of those feelings that the daily lineup at the end of the regular season might be a bit different than the batting order we see at the beginning of the year. Accordingly, the starting rotation could have a similar fate. However, it’s tough to imagine any pitcher on the current roster replacing Urias as an ace if he pitches anything like he did over the past two years.

If Urias ends up staying healthy and contending for another Cy Young, he could end up with a ridiculously high contract next year, especially if he hits the free agent market at a still very young age of 27.

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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Dodgers Roster: Early Thoughts on 2023 Payroll

Just like every other typical offseason, the question of how much money the Los Angeles Dodgers are willing to invest in team payroll is at the top of the conversation list for many fans.

Last year, once the smoke settled on the season, the Dodgers ended up spending $270.8 million total on payroll, which led the entire majors, according to Spotrac. The general thought among many fans was that despite the team’s early exit from the playoffs, it might have been the most talented group of players the team had in recent decades, at least from an offensive perspective.

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Dodgers Roster: Recapping the 2022 Trade Deadline

Another trade deadline has come and gone. The Dodgers, with an NL-best record of 69-33, were rumored to be interested in some huge names. Ultimately, they kept the farm system intact and didn’t make any significant trades.

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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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Dodgers Trade Zach McKinstry to Cubs for Reliever Chris Martin

With just a few days remaining before this summer’s trade deadline, the Dodgers traded super-utility man Zach McKinstry to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for a super-veteran reliever in Chris Martin.

We’ve been discussing the Los Angeles bullpen quite a bit lately — particularly the role Craig Kimbrel might play during a prospective 2022 playoff run — and this latest move comes one day after Kimbrel nearly squandered a three-run ninth-inning lead against the Rockies on Friday.

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Taking a Look at Several Possible Player Additions for Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been there and done that regarding big trades. Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Yu Darvish. Since the team is regularly among the perennial candidates, it is no debate as to why they execute these trades.

This trade deadline season isn’t any different, as the Dodgers have many names linked to them.
Even with a record of 66-32, the Dodgers are still looking to add pieces for the postseason push.

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