Dodgers Opening Day Roster?

The Dodgers are now one week away from playing for real.  Kershaw vs Bumgarner to kick off the season.  While Kershaw has not been automatic in the playoffs, he is unbeatable in opening games.  The Dodgers have been 7-0 in Kershaw’s opening games, including 2 games against the Giants.  The Giants fans I know have been drooling especially since JT broke his wrist, and the Dodgers and Giants face off 10 games before JT returns.

The Dodgers are now three days away from breaking camp in Arizona and heading back to LA for the Freeway Series.  They also have a few roster spots remaining to be named.  Depending on whether the Dodgers go with 7 or 8 in the bullpen, it basically boils down to 2 or 3 relief pitchers and 1 or 2 bench players.  Most projections are going with 7 in the pen to start with.  With five off days in April and JT going down until May, it makes sense to have that extra bench player, so I will go with 7 relievers.

The starting rotation is supposedly set, including Ryu.  But I am still not convinced that he is ready.  The Thursday game against the Angels will go a long way to show that he is capable of going at least 5 innings.   Friday should start the rotation for good with Kershaw, followed by Wood, Maeda, Hill, and Ryu for the final spring training game on Tuesday.

Doc has already labeled Kenley, Alexander, Cingrani, Baez, and Stripling are set.  That leaves Chargois, Font, Garcia, Fields, and Venditte playing for the final 2 spots.  All of the projections I have seen include Fields as an automatic.  I have seen some select Font, and some select Garcia to complete the bullpen.  Font makes sense since he has no options remaining and he would most likely be claimed.  I think Garcia needs to go back to OKC to get more meaningful innings in.  I am going with J. T. Chargois who has been almost automatic this spring.  I still think Pat Venditte has done everything he can do to make the roster, but he will be on the roster at some point.

The infield would have been set before JT’s injury.  It still looks fairly straight forward with Bellinger, Forysthe, Seager, with Utley and Kike’ as a platoon at 2B.

Catcher is set with Grandal and Barnes.

The starting outfield is set with Kemp, CT3, and Puig.

With Utley and Barnes, two of the bench are set and three more need to be added.

Adding Farmer allows for the most diversification.  Farmer can be a backup catcher allowing Barnes to play 2B, or Farmer can play 2B or 3B as well as 1B.  That leaves 2 outfield spots with 3 possibilities; Toles/Joc/Thompson.  All projections I have seen include Toles.  Some have included Trayce.  Again Trayce makes sense since he is out of options, and since JT is a RH bat, Thompson the lone RH candidate is a viable option.  That leaves Joc or Toles.  There is no question in my mind who the better player is or who earned the position…Andrew Toles.  However, strong consideration needs to be given to what is best for the organization; Toles playing every day or sitting on the bench playing maybe once a week.  IMO, Joc is a 4thor 5thOF and will be nothing more for the Dodgers.  I think it makes sense to have Joc sitting on the bench getting that one PH, playing defense for Kemp, and having Toles hitting everyday with Verdugo at OKC.

My best guess is:

Starting Rotation (5):

Kershaw – LHSP

Wood – LHSP

Maeda – RHSP

Hill – LHSP

Ryu – LHSP


Bullpen (7):

Jansen – RHRP

Alexander – LHRP

Cingrani – LHRP

Baez – RHRP

Stripling – RHRP

Fields – RHRP

Chargois – RHRP


Catchers (3):

Grandal (S)

Barnes (R)

Farmer (R)


Infield (5):

Bellinger (L)

Forsythe (R)

Seager (L)

Utley (L)

Hernandez (R)


Outfield (5):

Kemp (R)

Taylor (R)

Puig (R)

Thompson (R)

Pederson (L)


If Thompson is traded or waived, I would expect Toles to make the 25 man.


This article has 35 Comments

  1. I agree with most of you’re opening day roster, my only change is I hope Toles makes the team and Pederson will be sent down. Thompson at this point is playing better than Pederson and without any options left and no trade in sight at this point I go with a shaky nod to Thompson.

  2. Bobby, we have no disagreement as to who the better player is and who is more deserving. IMO, there are two givens; Toles is a much better player than Joc and deserves the rotation spot, and Toles is blocked as a starter by Kemp and his contract, not Joc. I am not convinced that Kemp can stay healthy all year and I would rather have Toles face live pitching every day, and playing OF every day rather than sitting on a bench to start one game a week. Toles was out for most of 2017 (102 PA), and has all of 46 PA in ST. In those 46 PA, he has exactly 1 walk. He needs better pitch recognition, and he only gets that by facing live pitching. Joc is a reserve OF for the team. Every team needs two reserve OF, and Joc is better suited for that role than someone I consider to be a starting OF. If highest ceiling is the deciding factor, then Alex Verdugo should get that spot. But he needs to play every day as well. Remember with FAZ, they manage a 40 man roster than a 25 man roster. How do you best balance the 40 man?
    Deserving to be on the roster is not always the deciding criterion. If that were true, than Pedro Baez would not be on the 25 man, and yet everyone knows he will be. Remarkably, Pedro Baez has the one person in his corner that matters…Doc Roberts. Why? I have no idea. But Pat Venditte deserves the 7th spot, and with the Dodgers, the bullpen is more important than the #4 or #5 OF. Pat Venditte deserves the spot over Scott Alexander, and yet he will not get that spot.

  3. I agree with you AC, although I do not like it. I have seen management keep players who have no options when they have been clearly beaten by another player in ST. That is why I think Font will be in the pen and Fields or Stripling to AAA. They really give players a chance to prove they belong or they do not belong in the regular season. ST is just not that big a deal to management. Toles has clearly beaten out Joc and Thompson. Vinditte should be in the bull pen based on what he has done in ST. The only good thing in my mind is that Toles and Vinditte will be back up to stay sometime this year, if they perform in AAA.

  4. I agree with AC’s roster projection. Kemp is too fragile and will probably have multiple DL stints this year. Knowing that, I don’t think the FO wants to lose Trayce to a DFA/trade scenario so they keep him on the 25 man roster and send Joc to OKC.

    The first OF DL stint will result in a Joc call-up and after that the best bat stays in the line-up. My money is on Toles. Guy just has that “it” factor. Grinds AB’s, has great speed and can be a catalyst at the top of the order.

    Ryu’s spot in the starting rotation concerns me greatly.

  5. Just because someone has struck out 30% of his at bats this spring is no reason to keep him off the 25.

    1. Bum

      I know what you are doing, but that player has also got a hit 30 percent of the time, in his at bats.

      And he also has quite a few extra base hits, and RBIs, in those at bats, too.

      And that is after missing most of the season last year, like AC said.

        1. Bum

          I do when a player never seems to change their approach.

          But I am looking at the fact that Toles, missed most of last year, like AC pointed out.

          And Toles has not had a lot of strike outs, in the past for this team, so I think AC’s thoughts about having Toles, see more live pitching, is right on!

          Vegas was a little concerned too, but like I said, I think AC is right on about this, but I do value Vegas’ thoughts too.

          Because Vegas does make some very good points, too.

          But Toles is slugging in the 580s, so he really doesn’t have a lot of strikeouts, for the power, he has put out.

          At least Joc will be on the team, and that should make you feel, a little better.

  6. I think people believe Kemp is fragile but here are the number of plate appearances he has had since 2014:
    2014 – 599
    2015 – 648
    2016 – 672
    2017 – 467
    … and he was 40 pounds fatter.

  7. I don’t see how Joc has any value as a reserve OF. Sure he can come in late and play defense, but in today’s game, your bench players NEED to pinch hit as well. And who wants Joc coming up for the first time in a game, in the 7th inning or later? It’s almost an automatic out/strike out. Yes, Toles would be /should be playing every day, but I’d rather have him come in late, and either play defense, pinch run, pinch hit, move a guy over, etc.

    It may not be best for Toles, but it sure is better for the team to have him over Joc.

  8. I have a really hard time accepting Baez or Joc on the 25 man though I understand AC’s reasoning. These young men have to handle disappointment and injustice to make it to the Bigs. I wish Seager was swinging the bat better and I wish there was a way to Rios on the 25 man. They need a bat to replace Turner’s and neither Utley, (who is my favorite Dodger) nor Kike is that bat (except against The Bum) I have never seen Rios play but the stats says he hits. He must have hands of stone at third. Oh well.

  9. Rios needs to go to whatever kind of exercise that Kyle Farmer had this past off season!

  10. i’ll agree with AC’s prediction with the following changes:

    1. trayce traded by opening day
    2. joc sent to AAA to work on defensive versatility
    3. toles takes OF spot
    4. font kept as mop-up man/13th pitcher

  11. I do wonder who is/was a better pure hitting prospect, Rios or Calhoun. For example, I wonder if Texas ever considered Rios a part of a Yu deal.

    I still feel this is the year we get Chris Archer, and that Rios, amongst a host of others, will be off to Tampa (where Rios could DH)

    1. Calhoun easy. his hit tool has been considered elite for a while.

      rios is fine for what he is, but in a trade package for archer, he’d likely be a 4th piece.

  12. Some scouts question Rios bat speed. If you watch guys like Seager, Bellinger or Calhoun, there is no doubt they whip that bat. Rios is not life that. I’m not saying he might not be a good hitter but I am now convinced like I was with the other three.

  13. I agree with everything AC said here!

    But maybe because Trayce has no options left, and with Joc obviously not the best hitter to have up, when clutch hits or needed, or to just put the ball in play, they might hold on to Trayce, and let him be the fourth outfielder, if it is between Joc or Trayce, but that is a long shot.

    Although Joc seems the better defensive player, I don’t know how Trayce would play on defense, if he wasn’t made to move all over the outfielder, like Joc isn’t.

    But the job for the fourth outfielder, is to be able to cover every outfield position, but since Joc is never been made to play all over the outfield, maybe their defense, isn’t as far apart, as it looks, at times.

    So maybe this decision is closer then I think, but I do think Joc will make the team, and be the fourth outfielder.

    But I don’t think Joc deserves the job, especially after what he did last year, because I would expect him to come to spring training with a swing down, and ready to compete!

    But Joc didn’t do that, he was out hit not only by Trayce and Toles, he was out hit, by most of our young players too.

    But since Roberts and the Dodgers, don’t take spring training numbers seriously, they will probably have Joc be that fourth outfielder, like AC said.

    But with what Joc did last year, I myself, would be more concerned about Joc, and his hitting, so I would take what he did in spring training this year, more seriously.

    I don’t see a lot of at bats, with Kemp in left, so I rather see Toles playing everyday, and getting consistent at bats, so he will be sharp, and ready, if he is called up.

    And some better look at the at bats Kemp has had every season, since he left this team, because he hasn’t gone out much at all, since he left this team.

    And I don’t think Toles would be a good part time player, even if he may give this team a better at bat in the clutch, then Joc.

    Because I think it is hard for any player, to sit on the bench to much, and be able to hit, in the clutch.

    1. I think joc has proven himself to be what he is: a flawed, popular, team-first player with “big play potential” but also prone to deep slumps and looking very bad at times.

      trayce to me has proven nothing other than having theoretical upside, untapped athleticism, and a hole in his bat the size of the grand canyon.

      toles “should” be the lh side of a fairly strict platoon with kemp, although is could see him eventually winning the job outright. what that would mean for kemp is unclear.

      as we’ve seen with Culbertson, this team has no problem with keeping a player as a year-long understudy to a core member. joc makes more than the minimum but he could step in and play full-time OF in case of an injury and that’s a pretty valuable skill set to own.

  14. I admit that I haven’t followed the Dodgers that closely this spring. However, even though he may have had a very good spring, I have little confidence that Pat Venditte will amount to anything with the Dodgers. Having never actually seen him pitch, all I have to go on are his age and stats. Venditte will be 33 in June, and to date has not distinguished himself at the MLB level.

    Unless he’s come up with a new pitch, or made some other drastic change, I think that all we can expect of him is much the same that he has given in the past, which is not much.

    Pedro Baez doesn’t fill me with confidence, but I’ll still go along with Doc on this one. And as the season goes along, I believe that the Dodgers have enough depth in the minors to make changes as the season progresses. And, of course, trades could play a role. Might even be that as time goes along Kenta Maeda will move to the pen, and replaced in the rotation by Buehler or a pitcher acquired in a trade, or some kid in the Dodgers system for whom the light suddenly goes on quicker than expected.

    In any case, we all know that the team that ends the season will not be the same as the one that begins it.

    1. good comment. I haven’t seen venditte this spring so can’t really say anything about his chances. I do know he outlasted liberatore so he’s at least still in the mix. or he’s just organizational filler and we’re giving him a chance to show off his wares. the ultimate darkhorse roster candidate imo.

  15. I’m with most of you on Joc. Great guy but needs to go to OKC to work on his hitting. If he can hit consistently, he is not of much use as an extra OF’er.

    I can’t use a streaky hitter to pinch hit. You have to ride a streaky hitter when he’s hot. That is not as a pinch hitter.

    If he is to be 4th OF’er he needs to to go to OKC and play every day with a different position almost daily.

    Right now, I keep Trayce as back up. If planning 5th then Toles and have him play at least 3-4 times per week, resting Kemp, Taylor and Puig once each week to get Toles enough playing time.

    I don’t see that Joc has earned a spot. That being said, I expect to see him start on the 25 man roster

  16. most hated dodgers based on limited empirical fan base input:

    1. baez–he’s slow, he’s “unclutch,” his command can waver, his arsenal is limited
    2. joc–he slumps, he takes ugly hacks, he’s a bit goofy, he swings for the fences all the time
    3. Utley–he’s old, he blocks others, he can slump mightily, he’s evidently God in the clubhouse
    4. trayce–is he even a dodger? if yes, then for how long?
    5. fields–neither as good as he could be nor as bad. baez lite in a way.

    1. Dionysis

      I think you did a really good job here, and I like your thoughts, but I just wouldn’t use the word hate.

      1. I don’t think anyone hates Joc. He comes across as such a good guy you can’t hate him.

        Now, if we’re talking hate (or any of Mark’s synonyms), the first name that come to my mind is JD Drew (but nobody on this current team, or last few years’ teams)

  17. Someone is drifting if they think Chase Utley is one of the most ‘Hated’ Dodgers. DRIFTING and DREAMING.
    Maybe one of the most beloved.

  18. I haven’t given up on Joc yet. Disappointed, yes, but I would give him one more shot. We were, at least I was, disappointed In Yasiel Puig during the 2015 and 2016 season. His off-field antics were as annoying as his on field problems with hitting and immature behaviour. I’m glad now that FAZ exercised some patience.

    I don’t quite understand why Turner Ward or someone can’t tame Joc’s wild swings. Perhaps he will need a change of scenery but I would wait a bit.

    1. I’m not ready to give up on Joc , but I think he needs to work on his swing in OKC

      1. i’m thinking maybe the AL. a team could dream on 40 hr potential. if we think verdugo has already passed him by we might as well ditch the position. world series hero may get 2nd chance though. maybe its a third and toles’ second is about to start. tough call. maybe we should take them both (toles/joc) as they are the best guys we have. farmer would have to go though. i still don’t see them both on the team. you are probably right about AAA.

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