PHOENIX -- We have officially reached the home stretch of spring training camp, with today marking the final Thursday for the Dodgers in Arizona.
We are nearing the finalization of the opening day roster, though still with several variables in play. One week from today, the Dodgers will be in Los Angeles to open the Freeway Series against the Angels. We are 10 days from the opening day roster will be announced, so let's see what remains between now and then.
There are currently 40 active players in big league camp. That doesn't include Brandon McCarthy and Frankie Montas, both of whom are on the 60-day disabled list. That total does include injured players who will open the season on the disabled list like Brett Anderson, Hyun-jin Ryu and Andre Ethier, plus Josh Ravin, who will likely be on the minor league DL unless the Dodgers need 40-man roster space.
That brings us down to 36 players effectively in camp. Given that Mike Bolsinger and his oblique aren't expected to be ready the first time through the rotation, he will likely open the season on the DL, too.
The earliest a team can back date a 15-day DL stint is Friday, March 25, so for the various Dodgers with nagging injuries — Yasmani Grandal and Corey Seager, for instance — don't be surprised if they don't play in major league games during these final days of spring until the team is absolutely convinced they are ready.
To clarify, if a player plays in a major league spring game after Thursday night and then has to open the season on the DL, the earliest the DL stint could be backdated would be the day after their last major league game played.
So we are really down to 35 players in big league camp, meaning 10 cuts still need to be made. Here is what's left:
Starting pitchers (6)
Locks: Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood
Fighting for Five: Carlos Frias, Brandon Beachy, Zach Lee
Cuts: 1, or 2 if Lee gets added back to camp
The caveat here is that Lee was already optioned though could be brought back this week, as he is definitely one of the three in the mix for that final rotation spot.
Locks: Kenley Jansen, Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell, Joe Blanton, Louis Coleman
Five for two spots: Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, Luis Avilan, Adam Liberatore, Jamey Wright
Coleman is out of options, has been pitching lights out and has a major league deal. He's making the team. The question here is whether the Dodgers want to go with one left-handed reliever or two to open the season.
Position players (19)
Starters (8): Grandal, Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig
Reserve locks (4): A.J. Ellis, Scott Van Slyke, Kiké Hernandez, Chase Utley
Seven for one spot: Austin Barnes, Alex Guerrero, Trayce Thompson, Charlie Culberson, Elian Herrera, Rico Noel, Rob Segedin
This is where the hard choices need to be made, and the injuries to Grandal and Seager play into them. If Seager starts the year on the DL, Culberson probably makes the big club with Hernandez taking over full-time shortstop duties. Barnes' ability to play second and third base is nice, but also two positions at which the Dodgers have sufficient coverage, so unless they need him at catcher Barnes seems likely ticketed for Oklahoma City at least to start.
The team seems reticent to use Guerrero in the outfield, which could mean they simply don't have a spot for him, but since he can't be sent to the minors he would either need to be traded or released, with the Dodgers eating most if not all of the $10 million remaining on his contract. Thompson's ability to play all three outfield spots seems key here, especially if Hernandez is needed more at shortstop than in center field.
The other wrench in the plans could be if the Dodgers decide to just have spot starters in their fifth starter role, utilizing the off days on April 11 and 18 to carry an extra player on the days in between starts by the fifth starter until Bolsinger is ready.