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Dodgers roster decisions looming this week as opening day nears

MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Dodgers
Who will line up next to manager Dave Roberts and the Dodgers coaching staff next week? We will find out soon, as opening day roster decisions near.
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — We are eight days from opening day, and there are still several choices the Dodgers need to make for their roster. Here is a look at what’s left in the week ahead.

As of Sunday morning, there are 43 players remaining in big league camp, which doesn’t include Yimi Garcia, already on the 60-day disabled list. One week from today, the Dodgers will have 25 players on the active roster.

That’s 18 cuts, thought not really. Some of these moves are easy.

Andre Ethier (herniated disc in his back), Josh Ravin (right groin strain) and Brock Stewart (shoulder soreness) will all open the season on the disabled list. We’re down to 40.

Scott Kazmir (hip) and Pedro Baez (hand contusion) won’t be ready for opening day either, so mark them on the disabled list, too. That puts us at 38.

Julio Urias starts Tuesday in a split squad game, but given how he has been used this spring there is no chance he starts the season on the active roster. Down to 37.

All due respect to these players still in camp, but non-roster invitees Cody Bellinger, O`Koyea Dickson, Ike Davis and Tyler Holt won’t be on the opening day roster. Now we’re at 33.

So we’re down to eight cuts left to be made.


Kenley Jansen, Sergio Romo and Grant Dayton are locks.

The remaining four spots will be from this group — Luis Avilan, Josh Fields, Chris Hatcher, Adam Liberatore, Brandon Morrow, Ross Stripling. Avilan is out of options and has pitched well this spring, giving him a leg up. Morrow has greatly impressed and will probably make the club as a non-roster invitee (there is one spot open on the 40-man roster, so no problem there). Stripling will probably be the long man, leaving one spot between Hatcher, who is out of options, Fields, whose velocity has been down in camp, and Liberatore, who has pitched well.

Two of these pitchers will be cut, bringing us down to 31.


Austin Barnes is still the favorite to claim the backup spot, but non-roster invitee Bobby Wilson has impressed as well.

"I think he's already had an impact on Austin, as well as Yasmani,” manager Dave Roberts said of Wilson. “Yas is our starting catcher, but he's always trying to learn and get better, and Bobby has a different insight, perspective and experience. Bobby has already made an impact with our guys.”

One of these two will start the season in the minors, and we are down to 30.

Utility man

Kiké Hernandez, Chris Taylor and non-roster invitee Charlie Culberson are all in line for this role. Hernandez and Taylor have the advantage of already being on the 40-man roster, and though Taylor has had an outstanding spring at the plate, the need for this role to also fill in in center field probably gives Hernandez the nod.

“These are three good players who fit what we’re trying to do,” said Roberts.

Two will be sent to the minors from this group, or I suppose there is still the remote possibility of Corey Seager starting the season on the disabled list, facilitating the need for one of these three to fill in at shortstop. Either way, the roster is now down to 28.

Corner man

Scott Van Slyke is healthy again, and could provide a right-handed bat off the bench to thump lefties, fill in at first base and occasionally the outfield. Rob Segedin has been peppering the ball all spring — at home and abroad — and is also vying for this spot, with the added versatility of playing third base as well.

One of these two will be in the minors, bringing us down to 27.


With Ethier opening the season on the disabled list, there is a need for someone to take the bulk of the at-bats in left field. Andrew Toles is the logical choice here, given that he is left-handed, and that he ended last season as the starter in left field against right-handed pitching.

Trayce Thompson is also in play here even though he bats right-handed, and his ability to fill in in center field is a plus, too. Toles can also play center field, but on days Joc Pederson rests the Dodgers would prefer a right-handed starter (a role likely filled by Hernandez or Taylor, whoever wins the utility spot).

One of Thompson or Toles will open in the minors, bringing us down to 26.

Starting pitching

The Dodgers haven’t officially named the back two spots of their rotation, but it’s between Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-jin Ryu and Alex Wood.

Wood has pitched well enough to earn a rotation spot, but is also the only one of the three who can be sent to the minors without his consent, proof that life isn’t always fair.

McCarthy and Ryu have also done well, both trying to put together more than a few consecutive weeks of major league production for the first time since 2014. Ryu has performed well to date, showing glimpses of his first two seasons, but Monday will be his first time stretched to five innings. In an ideal world, he might take a week or two to fully build up with a couple more minor league starts, but since he is healthy he would have to agree to do it, per his contract.

One of these pitchers gets the bad news. If it is Wood, there is a chance he ends up in the bullpen instead, taking one of the spots above. But given that Stewart is hurt and Kazmir isn’t ready, the club probably needs someone to continue starting in Triple-A to be available as the next in line if they are needed in April.

Either way, this gets us down to our opening day 25.