The Super Bowl is over, which means that we are only 13 days from the first full-squad workout at Camelback Ranch. As you are well aware, there hasn’t been much action the off-season. But now, the winter is almost over which means it’s time to re-evaluate the Dodgers’ roster for the last time this winter.
The Dodgers have a good problem at pitcher, with too many men. In fact, they have 7 legitimate starting pitchers on their depth chart: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda, and Julio Urías. Kershaw, Buehler, and Hill will take the first three pitching spots in some order, with the rest fighting for the remaining two spots. The others will either begin the year in the bullpen or Triple-A although they will all start at some point this year.
The Dodgers made a big bullpen upgrade this winter when they signed the former Red Sox, Joe Kelly. In addition, the Dodgers have returning breakout star, Caleb Furgeson. With these players and many more, the Dodger bullpen is looking better than it’s looked in years. The main concern is Kenley Jansen, who had a rough year in 2018 and underwent heart surgery this winter.
Catcher is probably the biggest hole on the Dodgers’ roster. After Yasmani Grandal signed with the Brewers, the Dodgers went out and traded for Russell Martin. It seems that Martin and Austin Barnes will share the catching duties for the first half of the season at least. The Dodgers have two prospects, Keibert Ruiz and Wil Smith, who are getting close to being Major League ready.
Because of Andrew Friedman’s emphasis on depth, the Dodgers have plenty of people ready to play first base in 2019. Max Muncy and David Freese will probably platoon at first base with Cody Bellinger ready to step in whenever he’s needed.
Earlier this winter, I was complaining about the Dodgers’ options at second base. But once again, the Dodgers have more depth than I gave them credit for. An infielder by trade, Chris Taylor will be returning the diamond with Kiké Hernández ready to play second when he’s called on.
Third base is probably the most locked in position on the Dodger roster. Justin Turner, who has become more valuable every year, will once again take his spot at the hot corner. Barring another fluke injury or a significant decline in performance, Turner will be one of the core players of 2019.
I am very happy to say that Corey Seager is healthy and ready to play again. Now that his elbow and back are healthy, we will be able to see Seager tracking down grounders in the gap, making tough throws, and hitting baseballs a mile. Taylor and Hernández will be ready to fill in at shortstop to give Seager days off and keep him healthy.
The Dodger outfield is once again very crowded. This isn’t a bad thing since Dodger outfielders are prone to injury. By my count, the Dodgers have seven players ready to fight for playing time in the outfield.
The Dodgers basically settled center field when they signed A.J. Pollock this winter. If Pollock stays healthy, he will man center field. If not, Bellinger will be ready to take his place.
Now that Yasiel Puig‘s been traded, Bellinger will be spending most of his time in right field. Bellinger hasn’t played in right very much but he was sensational there in the playoffs this year. If Bellinger needs to move to another position, Hernández, Andrew Toles, and Alex Verdugo will be ready to step in.
It would appear that the hardest fight for playing time will be in left field. Joc Pederson will try to keep his starting job with Taylor, Toles, and Hernández trying to get playing time and Verdugo trying to finally get some Major League playing time.
As you can see, the Dodgers are loaded with depth. As Andrew Friedman says, depth wins championships. With the way the Dodgers’ roster looks, a seventh-consecutive NL West championship looks inevitable. Although things change throughout the year, this roster looks good enough to give the Dodgers their third-straight pennant and, possibly, a World Championship.