Of all positional groups on the Los Angeles Dodgers 40-man roster, the outfield perhaps has the most clarity as we sit roughly one month from Spring Training workouts beginning. However, clarity doesn’t necessarily equate to how every role will shake out, but more so who will be involved.
As it stands, the outfield features six players battling for five spots: Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Trayce Thompson, Andrew Toles and Scott Van Slyke. Now that is a fascinating group.
Ethier enters the 2017 a wild card. In the final year of his contract, the veteran outfielder is coming off of a season in which he played just 16 games.
And yet, Ethier is only one year removed from a 3.0 WAR season in which he batted .294/.366/.486. So what do you do with a someone who will turn 35 years old eight games into the 2017 season?
Ethier’s competition in left field comes in the form of two youngsters: Trayce Thompson and Andrew Toles — both of whom are attractive for different reasons.
Thompson is interesting because he’s the team’s best bet to hit lefties and can play across the outfield. Toles, on the other hand, is likely the favorite to start thanks to what he did in 2016.
In his first season with the organization, Toles played across four different levels (High-A, Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors) and capped it off by posting 1.6 WAR in just 48 games with the Dodgers while batting .314/.365/.505.
In their recently-released 2017 ZiPS projections, Fangraphs listed Thompson and Toles as platoon mates in left field.
The other option you might see in left at some point is Van Slyke. Although, he may very well be the odd man out. Van Slyke’s primary role presumably will need to be as a backup to Adrian Gonzalez at first base and pinch-hitter off the bench.
But, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where he beats out Ethier for a roster spot.
CONTINUE READING: Examining center field and right field