The Dodgers will have their first full squad workouts starting today and with Opening Day a little over five weeks away I ask, “how many 25-man roster spots are up for grabs?”
Let’s get the easy ones out of the way first and then we can get to the questions.
Locks for being introduced at Dodger Stadium on March 28th
I came up with 21 players that I can reasonably believe will be on the Opening Day roster.
Left-handed pitchers (4): Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Hyun-jin Ryu, Tony Cingrani
Right-handed pitchers (7): Walker Buehler, Kenta Maeda, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Ross Stripling, Pedro Baez, Josh Fields
Catchers (2): Austin Barnes, Russell Martin
Infielders (3): David Freese, Max Muncy, Justin Turner
Outfielders (2): Joc Pederson, A.J. Pollock
Multi-positional (3): Cody Bellinger, Kiké Hernández, Chris Taylor
Of the 21 players on this list, the only one that I think is a question mark is Josh Fields. But Fields has accrued five years of service time so he would have to approve an option so I think he is likely to make it. Plus he has pitched well for the Dodgers though his FIP has always been well above his ERA in Los Angeles.
Probables for the Opening Day roster
Left-handed pitcher (1): Caleb Ferguson
Infielder (1): Corey Seager
Outfielder (1): Alex Verdugo
The Dodgers will need another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen and between Ferguson and Urias, I picked Ferguson since he did well in the role and I think he can be a very good in this role.
Health and where’s he at with his throwing will be the issues for Corey Seager. The Dodgers and Seager have expressed optimism since last December. How much he plays in the first few weeks of March probably won’t be a sign of his making the trip to Los Angeles but if he isn’t throwing yet, that could be a strong sign of an extended spring-training for him.
#Dodgers Dave Roberts said he hasn't spoken with Andrew Toles and was unaware of the issue until Toles was given permission to stay out of camp. "Yeah, it was a surprise," Roberts said. "That's part of the unpredictability of life."— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 18, 2019
With the news about Andrew Toles, it would look like Alex Verdugo could be destined for a spot on the roster. Verdugo has already played 208 Triple-A games so another stint in Oklahoma City is not going to answer any more questions about him.
Perhaps seeing how Verdugo reacts to spot starts and pinch-hitting will aid in the Dodgers determining if he is ready for an everyday role.
Potential additions to Opening Day roster
Left-handed pitcher: Scott Alexander
Right-handed pitchers: JT Chargois, Dylan Floro, Yimi Garcia
You could convince me that the Dodgers will take Alexander ahead of Ferguson because the Dodgers want to see Ferguson start. But since Alexander also has options so he could start the season in Oklahoma City.
Unless JT Chargois got an extra option year due to an injury, he, along with Yimi Garcia and Brock Stewart are all out of options. That means they must make the 25-man roster or else be designated for assignment.
It is hard to see a role for Stewart, he has been a starting pitcher for the Dodgers in the minor leagues but he was never really given an extended look at that role in Los Angeles over the last three seasons as he took the many plane trips to and from wherever the Dodgers were playing.
Stewart could be a likely candidate for a deal before spring training is over to give him a chance to make another team’s roster.
Yimi Garcia has been a part of the Dodger organization since signing with them in May 2009. Garcia missed the entire 2017 due to his Tommy John surgery in October 2016. Last year, he also missed time with right forearm inflammation.
Along with his injuries, Garcia has not recaptured his promise from his first two seasons. But given his long history with the team, expect him to get his share of opportunities this spring.
JT Chargois had a good year against right-handed batters. They only had a .580 OPS with one home against in 102 plate appearances. He was the opposite against left-handed batters, in 33 plate appearances, they had a 1.053 OPS and three home runs against.
Now, I am pretty sure neither Garcia or Chargois has the promise of Dylan Floro but Floro has an option left so the Dodgers don’t have to deal with that right now.
If Seager isn’t ready, I am not sure who on the 40-man roster they would use given the status of Andrew Toles. Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty are both left-handed and probably corner infield types. With both Taylor and Hernández on the team, you don’t necessarily need another middle-infield player.
Of course this is the state of things with a month of spring training games to play so it could change a bit before that first Dodger Dog hits the grill on March 28th. But for now, I don’t expect a lot of surprises for the Opening Day roster as the Dodgers prepare to defend their two-time NL pennant winner status this season.