Of all the things the Los Angeles Dodgers have done an incredibly good job of, perhaps nothing better describes the strength of the organization than the word depth.
In 2016 and 2017, the Dodgers led the league in players sent to the disabled list — and yet, they still trudged ahead. They even finished last season with the best record in baseball.
In 2016, the Dodgers broke the MLB record when Carlos Frias became the 28th different player sent to the DL. All they did was win the National League West rather comfortably.
Why? Because no team in baseball maximizes every spot on their 40-man roster better than the Dodgers. For those unfamiliar with the 40-man roster, it’s the entire group of players eligible for inclusion on the Major League roster.
While the Dodgers can only carry 25 active players, they’re allowed to stash 15 other players from their Minor League system — guys who can be called up if they are needed — on the 40-man.
With that in mind, and the season now officially less than 100 days away, I’ve set out to rank those currently on the 40-man roster. Before we dive into the rankings, however, let’s be clear about how players are ranked.
I’m thinking only about the 2018 season and ignoring contracts, salaries, age (for the most part), etc. This is not a trade value column, but rather a “considering overall impact in 2018, which players are the “most valuable right now” column.
So, without further ado, let’s get started with the 10 lowest ranked players on the list…
As it stands, the Dodgers currently have one spot open on their 40-man roster following their three-team trade with the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. For most teams this is probably a ‘who cares?’ kind of thing, but for the Dodgers every spot is valuable.
39. Henry Owens, RP
Owens is a new addition to the roster, as he was claimed off waivers on Dec. 22 from the Boston Red Sox in a move was strictly an upside play.
Owens was a first-round pick in 2011 and was twice ranked among the top-50 prospects in baseball. But since being called up in 2015 (and being sent back down in 2017), he has been dreadful. Call this ‘reclamation project 2018.’
38. Dylan Baker, RP
Baker is another of the newcomers, as he was recently acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Baker has been limited to just 74 Minor League innings in the last four years after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He has an upper-90s fastball and a plus slider, so he is a low-risk, high-reward option for the Dodgers moving forward.
In all seriousness, this is the kind of move that has probably come to terrify general managers around the league. ‘Do the Dodgers see something we missed?’
37. Rob Segedin, 1B/3B
Since coming over in 2016 from the New York Yankees, Segedin has suffered from a lack of opportunity at the big-league level given the emergence of Cody Bellinger and the (up until recently) presence of Adrian Gonzalez.
It also doesn’t help that he’s 29 years old and missed four months with a wrist injury last season. Segedin’s calling card is his bat more than anything (.320/.347/515 in 25 games at Triple-A last season), but barring a slew of injuries, Segedin is nothing more than a career Minor Leaguer that will get short stints in the big leagues here and there.
36. Dennis Santana, RP
Of all the names on this list, Santana and the next three might be the most interesting to watch come Spring Training given their status as unproven pitchers who could see time in the bullpen.
An infielder-turned-pitcher, Santana has been pretty great over the past two seasons. In 2016, Santana pitched 111.1 innings at Low-A Great Lakes and posted a FIP of 3.12 (14 starts, 11 relief appearances).
In 2017, Santana continued to dominate at High-A Rancho Cucamonga (3.68 FIP in 85.2 IP) before being promoted to Double-A Tulsa and struggling a bit (4.23 FIP in 32.3 IP). At just 21 years old, the upside is there and while 2018 is unlikely to be the year he makes his debut, the fact that Santana was protected from the 2017 Rule 5 Draft tells you what the Dodgers think of him.
35. Wilmer Font, SP/RP
Prior to the trade, I had Trevor Oaks slotted here — not because of talent, but simply because of the depth in front of him. With Oaks gone, this spot belongs to the 27-year-old Font.
Font made his MLB debut in 2012 and yet, in total he has pitched just seven Major League innings (11.57 career ERA). But this is only the latest chapter in what has been the incredible story of Wilmer Font.
After being cut by the Texas Rangers in 2014, Font was signed by the Cincinnati Reds and then promptly cut before the 2015 season began. After being released, he signed with the Ottawa Champions of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball, where he made 20 starts before being picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays.
After the 2015 season, he was released again and signed with the Dodgers on a Minor League contract. Font was named the 2017 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year after setting the franchise record with 178 strikeouts in 134.1 innings (25 starts, 3.42 ERA).
Unfortunately, in three Major League appearances, he posted an ERA of 17.18. It will be interesting to see how 2018 plays out with Font, because as it stands, he might be either the No. 7 or 8 starter in the system depending on how the Dodgers would choose to deploy Ross Stripling in a pinch.
34. Edward Paredes, RP
Of all the players on this list, Paredes might have been the one that was hardest for me to rank — and his ranking here says more about the Dodges than it does about Paredes.
After being selected in the Minor-League portion of the 2016 Rule 5 draft, Paredes was a revelation last season — posting a 2.50 FIP in 32 innings with the Drillers and then a 1.97 FIP in 12 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
As a result, Paredes got called up in August and made 10 appearances (8.1 IP) with a 2.08 FIP and struck out 11.
All that said, Paredes is 31-years-old and didn’t appear in any level of Minor League baseball in 2012, 2014 and 2015. Is he the latest example of the Dodgers finding a player whose skills were being under-utilized (the slider, in his case)? Or was his 2017 performance a mirage?
33. Trayce Thompson, OF
Like Oaks, Thompson’s biggest problem is his position. As an outfielder, Thompson ranks roughly seventh on the Dodgers depth chart with no real clear path to the Majors ahead of him.
In 27 games last season, Thompson was dreadful (.122/.218/.265) before missing the rest of the season with a back injury. The best thing for Thompson might be a change of scenery.
32. Tim Locastro, IF/OF
A relative unknown when he was added to the Major League roster last September, Locastro is a quintessential utility player with speed, speed, speed. In 127 games between the Drillers and Oklahoma City last season, Locastro stole 34 bases (and added one more in the Majors).
The best news for Locastro this off-season was the departure of Charlie Culberson, opening up the possibility for Locastro to make the big league club as a pinch-runner/utility infielder and outfielder.
In 2017, Locastro played second base, left field and center field, while adding 31 appearances at shortstop the year prior.
31. Kyle Farmer
Last year’s version of a one-hit-wonder, Farmer made a name for himself with a walk-off double in his first career at bat. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his duties as the third-string-catcher, netting just 20 at-bats (six hits).
Impressed with what they saw, the Dodgers added Farmer to the NL Division Series roster, where he was hitless in five at-bats.
With rumors swirling that Yasmani Grandal might be on the trading block, Farmer could see a ton of time with the Dodgers this season — but only in the case of a trade or an injury.