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What are the Dodgers roster battles in spring training, if any?

Right-hander Michael Grove and left-hander Alex Vesia are among the pitchers vying for a roster spot with the Dodgers during 2024 spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.
Right-hander Michael Grove and left-hander Alex Vesia are among the pitchers vying for a roster spot with the Dodgers during 2024 spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.
Photos: Getty Images

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to Dodgers camp at Camelback Ranch in Arizona on Wednesday, which marks the official beginning of spring training. By next Wednesday, the date of the first full-squad workout, there will be 63 players in big league camp.

But what roster battles will the Dodgers actually have?

The position player side seems fairly set. Signing outfielder Teoscar Hernández to a one-year deal essentially completed the Dodgers’ 13 position players on the active roster. Ten of those players can’t be sent to the minors, and the three player with options — catcher Will Smith, shortstop Gavin Lux, and center fielder James Outman — all have secure starting spots.

Miguel Vargas is on the outside looking in for now, though an injury could change the equation.

That leaves the pitching side if we’re looking for any sort of competition this spring. Walker Buehler is going to start the season on the injured list, as he’s on an innings limit after coming back from a second Tommy John surgery. But the Dodgers rotation still has Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, and Bobby Miller atop the depth chart.

Veteran left-hander James Paxton has a rotation spot too, but he has a lengthy history and his contract guarantee was reduced from $11 million to $7 million due to an unspecified health issue. He has contract incentives for being active on opening day because that’s no sure thing.

Emmet Sheehan is a logical candidate to claim an open rotation spot, after impressing as a rookie in 2023, and he improved down the stretch well enough to earn a post on the NLDS roster. Gavin Stone, Landon Knack, and Kyle Hurt have a chance to make a name for themselves during spring training, to at least be in the conversation here or later in the season.

Ryan Yarbrough has over five years of service time and can’t be sent to the minors without his consent, so he’ll be on the active roster. It’s just a matter of what role. He’s an option to make starts as well, especially if Paxton isn’t ready to start the season. Last year, Yarbrough started nine times and pitched in bulk relief 16 times. Nine of those relief appearances lasted at least three innings.

In the bullpen, Evan Phillips and Brusdar Graterol are entrenched at the back end. Joe Kelly and Blake Treinen are roster locks, though both have enough of an injury history to raise an eyebrow. Returning Ryan Brasier is also a lock.

That’s 10 pitching roster locks — again, if healthy — on the pitching staff: Yamamoto, Glasnow, Miller, Paxton, Yarbrough, Phillips, Graterol, Kelly, Brasier, and Treinen. Three spots left to figure out, one of which is earmarked for Sheehan or one of the other young starters, unless Yarbrough just opens the year as the fifth starter.

The Dodgers still need some semblance of left-handed relief, other than Yarbrough and his bulk role. Alex Vesia is the familiar southpaw we know, while Matt Gage is the new guy. Among the non-roster invitees are two left-handers: T.J. McFarland is more experienced than Stephen Gonsalves, having pitched in the majors in each of the last 11 seasons.

Whether the Dodgers carry one or two short-inning left-handers in the bullpen is still in question.

So that leaves maybe one more slot for another right-handed reliever.

J.P. Feyereisen last allowed an earned run in 2021, but missed all of last season after shoulder surgery; he’s healthy now.

Michael Grove’s best work in the majors has come as a reliever rather than starting.

Gus Varland found success since switching to full-time relief in the minors in 2022, and did well in limited duty with the Dodgers last season.

Ricky Vanasco has yet to make his major league debut, but struck out 35 percent of his batters faced in Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City after the Dodgers traded for him.

There are also the non-roster invitees to consider. Daniel Hudson if healthy probably gets a spot, but after multiple knee injuries the last two seasons that is very much in question.