LOS ANGELES, December 16, 2014 — The Los Angeles Dodgers have been making moves left and right after a pretty quiet start to the offseason. With yesterday’s signing of Brett Anderson and the recent signing of Brandon McCarthy, it would appear as though the Dodgers are done adding players.
The Jimmy Rollins trade has not been made official and Matt Kemp takes his physical on Tuesday. Assuming those trades go through, taking a look at the potential lineup creates a lot of interesting options for how Dodger skipper Don Mattingly plans to use his new players.
With the addition of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, and the subtraction of Matt Kemp, Mattingly now has five different players who he can slot in at the top of the lineup. The Dodgers plan to have Joc Pederson manning centerfield in 2015 with Yasiel Puig playing right and Carl Crawford playing in left on most days.
Crawford, Rollins, and Pederson all profile as good leadoff hitters, or they can bat second as well. Yasiel Puig has spent time in the two hole, as has Howie Kendrick. The most likely scenario would be jimmy Rollins batting leadoff and Carl Crawford following him.
With the lack of a second power bat such as Matt Kemp or Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers could look to Puig to provide some protection for Adrian Gonzalez who will likely bat third. Juan Uribe is the likely candidate for batting fifth.
Howie Kendrick would bat sixth. Joc Pederson could realistically start the season batting seventh, but could force Mattingly to shake things up if Peserson proves he can get on base regularly. Batting eighth against right handed pitchers could be new arrival Yasmani Grandal.
A.J. Ellis could see platoon time against lefties. Clayton Kershaw may also request that Ellis be his personal catcher, although at 34, Ellis is not long for this league. Kershaw will not have him as his catcher forever. It may be wise to force him to cut those ties now.
Scott Van Slyke and Justin Turner will return in their super utility roles in 2015. Van Slyke can play all three outfield positions and also first base. Turner can fill in at second, short, and third.
Looking at the rotation, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu will be first, second, and third, respectively. Brandon McCarthy will be the number four starter with Brett Anderson in the fifth spot. Pitching a full season is a tall expectation for both McCarthy and Anderson. Both pitchers are almost perennial locks to see time on the disabled list.
Should, or when, either of these players get hurt, the Dodgers will likely look to give former top prospect Zach Lee a shot. Also, floating in the free agent pool is Chad Billingsley, who is coming off Tommy John surgery. A minor league deal for Billingsley is not out of the question.
The Dodgers’ bullpen has been talked about often as a glaring need for improvement. The Dodgers went into the offseason following 2013 with the same predicament. They brought back Brian Wilson and also added former closer Chris Perez. The talking baseball heads all agreed these moves would improve their bullpen, but obviously that did not happen.
Wilson was designated for assignment on Monday just weeks after he exercised his player option for $10 million. If no other team picks him up, the Dodgers will be on the line for the entire amount, but this is more of a case of addition by subtraction.
This year, the Dodgers brought in former Tampa Bay set up man Joel Peralta. They also got reliever Chris Hatcher from Miami in the Dee Gordon trade and Juan Nicasio from Colorado. Kenley Jansen will again man the closer role. Other arms you could see in the bullpen are J.P. Howell, Carlos Frias, Pedro Baez, and possibly Paco Rodriguez.
Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News. He also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music and food. Kevin also writes for New Noise Magazine and plays guitar in the Los Angeles punk band Emmer Effer. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball