With their decision to carry an eight-man bullpen come Opening Day of the 2018 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers in turn will be limited to a four-man bench. That aspect, coupled with their depth in the outfield, has multiple players vying for the final spot on the 25-man active roster.
All indications point to the Dodgers deciding between Kyle Farmer, Joc Pederson, Trayce Thompson and Andrew Toles. Pederson may have an inside track, and the same might apply to Thompson because he is out of Minor League options.
Toles is returning from last May’s ACL surgery but hasn’t shown any signs of being slowed by the injury. His home run in the ninth inning on Monday night prevented the Dodgers from being shut out by the Angels in the second of the three-game exhibition Freeway Series.
“He is,” answered Dodgers manager Dave Roberts when asked if Toles was still under consideration to make the club’s Opening Day roster.
“He’s a guy who had an abbreviated last year, the year prior we called him up and he played well for us. He’s exciting, he does a lot of things well, he’s high energy. Guys like Andrew, Trayce, it makes our decision a lot tougher. And obviously we’re talking about Matt and Joc as well. [Toles] has had a great spring, he really has. He’s making it tough on us.”
If Thompson weren’t out of Minor League options, it would likely lead to the Dodgers already having settled on Toles. Being a left-handed hitter, he better complements Matt Kemp for a platoon of sorts in left field.
Of course, Thompson could be traded, which the team reportedly is considering, and that would create the opportunity Toles needs to stick in the Majors. That being said, some within the organization are said to believe an everyday role with Triple-A Oklahoma City is best.
Even if Toles is to begin the season with OKC, he wouldn’t need to look any further than Chris Taylor for reason to remain optimistic. Taylor put together an impressive spring, only to be left off the Opening Day roster.
But he joined the Dodgers by mid-April, stuck with the team for the remainder of the season, and went on to be named co-MVP of the National League Championship Series.