One of the Los Angeles Dodgers biggest strengths in 2017 was their depth, as their entire 25-man roster was filled with players that could be starters in many other organizations.
The team returns a lot of that depth this season, which makes for some good competition during Spring Training as there are multiple positions that don’t yet have a clear-cut starter. Speaking at Dodgers Fan Fest, manager Dave Roberts outlined a few battles that he sees taking place this spring.
“Obviously, we have an excess of outfielders,” Roberts said. “There’s always competition in the bullpen, and you’re looking at the fifth starter. It’s a good thing to have; competition is going to make guys better.”
Roberts also stated that he sees Chris Taylor remaining as the team’s every day center fielder, and with Yasiel Puig in right, that leaves one outfield position up for grabs with the likes of Joc Pederson, Matt Kemp, Andrew Toles, Kiké Hernandez and Alex Verdugo competing for it.
As far as the starting rotation goes, if they are healthy then Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu should fill out the five spots.
Walker Buehler, Brock Stewart and Ross Stripling will all be stretched out as starters, though, so there could be movement based on competition or injuries throughout the course of camp.
Roberts also sees one more competition taking place this spring, and that’s behind the plate with Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes. Barnes supplanted Grandal as the starter towards the end of last season and into the playoffs.
“Obviously, Yasmani got the lion’s share of the work throughout the season. But if you look back at the postseason, Austin played the most,” Roberts said.
“That was a decision we made because we felt the last part of the season, Austin was playing better. I know Yasmani is coming here and expecting to win his job back. I think they both look at it as a competition, and that’s a good thing.”
Some of the Dodgers positions are set in stone, specifically on the left side of the infield with Justin Turner and third base and Corey Seager at shortstop.
Roberts still sees players of their caliber competing, although it won’t necessarily be with others. “I think if you look at Justin Turner and Corey Seager, they’re competing with themselves. They want to be the best they can be and help us win baseball games,”
With a majority of their core players returning to the team , the Dodgers will once again be in a good position to win the National League West for the sixth straight year, and perhaps return to the World Series to avenge last year’s loss to the Houston Astros.