The Dodgers aren't yet done assembling their roster, with their attention turned now to the bench. The latest rumor of the day revolves around third baseman Scott Rolen, who has spent the last 3½ years with the Reds.
Both Buster Olney at ESPN and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported the Dodgers have talked internally about adding Rolen, with Shaikin adding that "the team has not reached out to Rolen to gauge his interest."
Mike Petriello at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness has also heard of the club's interest in Rolen and believes that the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner is "likely to make a decision in the next 24-48 hours."
The big question for the Dodgers this offseason has been, are they really going to have a payroll of over $230 million yet have Luis Cruz start at third base? Cruz, who was one of the great stories of 2012 for the Dodgers, is still a relative unknown quantity. At the very least, even if Cruz does begin the season as the starting third baseman, it's nice to have options.
Hanley Ramirez would be an option at third base, but that would require Dee Gordon to play shortstop. The only problem with that is Gordon's defense was arguably more disappointing than his offense in 2012, and that's with a .280 on-base percentage.
Juan Uribe is an option, in so much that he is a body, but there is no evidence that he will get any playing time or even be on the roster. The Dodgers owe Uribe $7 million in 2013, but that sunk cost started once in the final 66 games of the season, and had all of one plate appearance and one game played in the final 34 games.
Nick Punto could be an option for an occasional spot start at third base, but even with his $1.5 million contract in 2013 his hold on a roster spot becomes less and less concrete with each passing rumor (such as the Mets, Yankees, and Giants being out on Scott Hairston, per a few different reports).
Jerry Hairston Jr. started 23 games at third base for the Dodgers in 2012, but given the current roster he seems more likely to see time in the outfield than at the hot corner. At any rate, the 37-year old isn't likely to be much more than a part-time player.
Which seems to be the ideal fit for Rolen as well, who has been well above average defensively throughout his career.
Rolen, who turns 38 in April, hasn't done much in the last two years, all while battling an injured left shoulder. In 157 games over the last two seasons, Rolen has hit a combined .244/.301/.397 with 13 home runs.
Rolen missed 80 games in 2011 in two stints on the disabled list, and had surgery to remove bone spurs and fragments in the aromioclavicular joint in his left shoulder on Aug. 3, 2011. He missed another 34 games on the DL in 2012 with a left shoulder strain, but hit better upon his return.
From his June 18 return to Cincinnati through the end of the season, Rolen hit .277/.354/.441 in 63 games, with six home runs and 11 doubles.
The two questions with Rolen are his health and whether or not he will retire. But if healthy he could be a reasonably productive option for the Dodgers at third base, at least part of the time. It sounds like we'll find out one way or another at some point this week.
Then again, maybe Rolen is just a hard guy to get a hold of. Just ask John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
I reached out to Rolen yesterday. I have not heard back. You have to go through channels to try to get him. He gives you an are-you-kidding? look when you ask for his offseason phone number. He’s great to deal with during the season, but he’s not one to seek publicity.
Fay guessed that Rolen would retire. Let's see if Fay is correct.