Welcome to wild speculation theater, where we wonder "what if?," this time as it pertains to a small aspect of the Dodgers' three-team trade with the Braves and Marlins.
The Dodgers also received Bronson Arroyo in the deal, but aren't paying much for him. Including his option buyout for 2016 and the remainder of Arroyo's 2015 salary, he is due roughly $7,978,142. But the Braves are including $7.45 million in the deal to help cover that, so the Dodgers are paying all of $528,142 for a pitcher unlikely to ever pitch for them.
Arroyo is recovering from Tommy John surgery from last season. His option next season is worth $13 million, which makes it highly unlikely the Dodgers would bring him back, paying him instead the $4.5 million buyout.
So why did the Dodgers want him at all?
Maybe they just paid $528k for a little bit of extra roster flexibility come playoff time.
You see, Arroyo is on the 60-day disabled list, as are fellow out-for-the-year pitchers Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy (Chris Hatcher is on the 60-day DL right now, too, but a decision will be made on him within a few weeks).
To be eligible for the postseason roster, a player has to be on an active roster or disabled list, bereavement list, suspended list or military list by 9 p.m. PT on Aug. 31. The more players on the disabled list, the more flexibility the club has if it wants to add someone else.
The only requirements for adding a replacement player to the postseason roster is that the player was in the organization on Aug. 31, not even on the 40-man roster, and that he remained in the organization through the end of the regular season.
Said replacement would need to be added to the 40-man roster if he isn't already there, but that's an easy enough move.
The most famous example of this was in 2002, when Francisco Rodriguez wasn't on the 40-man on Aug. 31 for the Angels, but made his major league debut on Sept. 15. He was allowed to be added to the postseason roster, replacing Steve Green, the latter who was on the 60-day DL.
Shenanigans, sure. But every year since, somebody is in search of the next K-Rod.
The odds are that the Dodgers will add no such players this year, but there are at least a few options.
For one, they have molded outfielder Robbie Garvey, a former track athlete, into strictly a pinch runner for Double-A Tulsa. He has appeared in eight games for the Drillers, never batting, and has stolen five of seven bases when everybody knows that's what he's going to do.
From Barry Lewis of the Tulsa World:
The ultimate goal for the Dodgers is to develop a pinch runner who is capable of making a difference in September, when major league rosters can be expanded, or perhaps even in the postseason. Major league teams will often do that in September, but that usually has been done with a player, often a young prospect, who has been a starter in the minors and can play defensively.
Garvey was signed out of an open tryout during spring training in 2013, so it would be a great story if he is able to make any kind of major league impact. Again, the odds are long, but the fact that the Dodgers are trying such a thing has to mean something.
But the Dodgers have three DL spots, so even if they use one to add Garvey to the postseason roster that still leaves two more.
Might I suggest Julio Urias and Jose De Leon, the Dodgers' top two pitching prospects.
It's been fun to speculate about Urias making a major league impact in 2015 for over a year. He clearly has major league stuff, and the fact that he was allowed and encouraged to have eye surgery midseason as a way to keep his inning-count low only fuels the speculation that he will have innings left in the tank for the Dodgers to use in September and October.
Urias still has command issues and he turns 19 next week, but if he shows improvement in the next four weeks it is not out of the question that he would be a candidate for major league relief work at least down the stretch.
De Leon turns 23 on Friday, and has 132 strikeouts and 33 walks in 94 innings this season. He is currently on the disabled list and hasn't pitched for Double-A Tulsa since July 16, but this could be another blessing in disguise as a way to limit his innings.
De Leon pitched just 77 innings in 2014, and is already at 94 frames this year. Depending on when he returns from the DL, he might still have some room on the odometer for some major league relief innings in September and October, too.
But it's still fun to think about, especially now that the Dodgers have even more flexibility to make it happen.