Yesterday I looked at what might the team be looking at/for in 2019 with pitching (starting and relief) and catchers. Today I am looking at the infielders and outfielders.
Infielders: Much of this will be determined by how Corey Seager rehabs. Will he be able to play SS as well as he did his first two years? Many do not believe that he will be able to, but much of that has to do with their desire for Manny Machado. I am optimistic that he will be able to come back and be one of the top three SS in the game. But I have nothing to base that on. I have not seen his medicals. I have not talked to him to see where his recovery is at. And neither has anyone else outside of his family and the Dodgers organization. So my guess is as good as any other non family member not connected to the Dodgers. And I am going with Corey at SS.
The only way I think that Machado would be considered would be if FAZ was not convinced that Seager could fully come back. If Seager needs to go to another position, Manny at SS would be a very good solution.
There is nothing else to say about 3B except JT. He is every bit as valuable to the Dodgers as Nolan Arenado is to the Rockies. I am not sure there is another 3B I would trade for, and there certainly is no FA 3B that I would come close to entertaining.
Another question will be where Cody Bellinger will play. He is a potential GG 1B, but he is also the team’s best CF. He is 23 and still adjusting to ML baseball. He will get better. He has shown a great affinity to adjust and to improve. I personally prefer Cody at 1B and then to find a CF. His offensive numbers are actually fairly equal whether Cody is playing 1B or CF. I just like a 1B who might be able to save a few errant throws from the infielders.
Max Muncy and David Freese can platoon at 1B if that is where FAZ wants to go. I am not as comfortable believing that Max can sustain his 2018 season offensively, and he is not what I would consider a good defensive option. I would use “serviceable”. Sometimes it is best to sell high, and Max could be a very good option in the AL.
CT3 and Kike’ can tag team at 2B. That would not be my preference, but realizing how the FO values flexibility, that is what I would expect. The team (organization) is chock-full of utility infielders. Plus, Max Muncy can play 2B, and maybe he gets a chance to play regularly there. Tim Locastro is also on the 40 man as yet another one of those super utility guys who can play 2B, but not at the level of CT3 or Kike’. There is absolutely no reason to keep both CT3 and Kike’. Pick one. The other will have good value in a trade.
After Alex Verdugo, Gavin Lux is the next position player that may have an impact in 2019. It could be as early as a mid-year promotion, but more likely in 2020. I have long been an advocate for DJ LeMahieu and I am not going to stop now. My only hesitation would be because it might block Gavin Lux. But DJ is a legit ML 2B while Gavin is a prospect. Most recognize LeMahieu’s offensive talents. He makes contact, has some pop, and does not strike out much. But just as important, DJ is now a three-time GG 2B after securing his 3rd for 2018 just yesterday. I am a Gavin Lux fan, but if the Dodgers can sign DJ for a reasonable sum for 2 years, I would think that is something to consider. Lux will not be blocked. Two full years to convert to 2B, and he will be 23 for the 2021 season. MLBTradeRumors picks him to go to Detroit for 2 years $18M. If that is his market, the Dodgers should be in on him.
I am not considering Whit Merrifield because Dayton Moore has labeled him as much of an untouchable as there is.
There are multiple other FA middle infielders that would interest me, but most of those are utility guys, and the Dodgers do not need more of those. I like Marwin Gonzalez, Jose Iglesias, Asdrubal Cabrera, Freddy Galvez, and Yangervis Solarte. But not more than CT3 or Kike’.
Outfielders:There is nothing absolute in this category. There are more questions than certainties. Again, I think FAZ missed an opportunity to get Yelich, but I have no idea of knowing how much they tried or who may have been offered in return. But that is in the past, and we are looking forward. I see no way that Joc, Verdugo, and Toles can be on the Dodgers together. For me, I will be watching to see what happens with Joc and Verdugo. This could tell us what FAZ values more…power or bat to ball skills. If it is Verdugo, he would be the regular LF. If Joc, there would be a platoon of Joc/CT3 or Joc/Kike’ or Joc/Kemp.
Kemp, the 2017 starting LF, will remain with the team unless he can be moved to the AL without having to include too much cash to make it work. If you are going to pay him, someone who is happy to be a Dodger and will probably accept a supportive role, he should remain with the team as a #4 or #5 OF. I still like Andrew Toles as a reserve OF.
Right now, Yasiel Puig is the RF and there is no indication that anything is about to change. Puig is another who is happy to be a Dodger and I would not be surprised to see him get an extension offer this winter. The only reason I can see him being traded is if the Dodgers do sign Bryce Harper which is absolutely outside of the FAZ comfort zone. Otherwise, put Yasiel in RF and leave him. He will drive us all crazy at times, but he will also thrill us.
I see LF as Verdugo and RF as Puig leaving CF as the open question. It could be Cody, it could be CT3, it could be Kike’, or it could be someone from the outside. I know I am again in the minority, but I would like to see Ender Inciarte manning CF in Dodger Blue next year. A couple of days back, Mark put up a 2018 offensive comparison between Inciarte and CT3. However IMO, Ender’s career numbers are much more indicative of his offensive abilities. He is a solid contact hitter vs the all or nothing of CT3. If FAZ really wants to see a change in philosophy, then CF is a good place to make a change. But where the difference really shows is that Inciarte is now a three consecutive year GG CFer, after being named the 2018 GG yesterday. Ender had even splits with LHP and RHP in 2018. For his career he is slightly better against RHP, .293/.342/.408/.750, but also hits LHP well at .276/.324/.337/.661.
I know it has been written that Alex is a CF. He plays CF for OKC because they have nobody else. He is a corner OF with a cannon. With Verdugo in left, and Puig in right, who is going to run on them?
In my disillusioned and opaque world, I would have the following roster:
1B – Cody Bellinger (L)
2B – DJ LeMahieu (R) (FA)
3B – JT (R)
SS – Corey Seager (L)
LF – Alex Verdugo (L)
CF – Ender Inciarte (L) (Trade)
RF – Yasiel Puig (R)
C – Salvador Perez (R) (Trade) – Just won his 5th GG yesterday
Bench: Barnes, Freese, Kemp, Toles, Kike’
SP: Buehler (R), Kershaw (L), Hill (L), Stripling (R), Urias (L)
RP: Jansen (closer), Baez (R), Alexander (L), Floro (R), Cingrani (L), Fields (R), Leclerc (R)
Note – Jesen Therrien will be up by June. Caleb Ferguson and Dennis Santana will go back to OKC to start and be on call for spot start and relief if needed.
Out of options and DFA or trade candidates – JT Chargois, Brock Stewart, Erik Goeddel, Yimi Garcia, Tom Koehler and Zac Rosscup. If any clear waivers, they would be on the OKC to LAD shuttle.
Gone from 2018 – Trade (5) – Maeda, Wood, Muncy, CT3, and Joc. FA (5) – Machado, Grandal, Ryu, Dozier, and Madson.
Defensively, there would not be a better overall lineup:
Defensively up the middle – Perez, LeMahieu, Seager, Inciarte
Strong defensive corner OF with Verdugo and Puig
Strong defensive corner IF with JT and Belli
You can also win games with a strong defense.
More bat to ball skills than the all or nothing approach. It should be financially responsible…at or around the luxury tax threshold.
What I expect to see:
1B – David Freese (R)/Max Muncy (L)
2B – CT3 (R)/Kike’ (R) or Max (L)
3B – JT (R)
SS – Corey Seager (L)
LF – Joc (L)/Matt Kemp (R)
CF – Cody Bellinger (L)/CT3 (R)/Kike’ (R)
RF – Yasiel Puig (R)
C – Kurt Suzuki (R)
Other Reserves: – Barnes & Toles
Starting Pitching – No change
Relief Pitching – Jansen, Baez, Alexander, Floro, Cingrani, Fields, Koehler/Goeddel/Chargois
This rostershouldbe good enough to get to the playoffs, but I do not know if it will be good enough to win the NLCS or WS which should be the goal.