Here’s a -- what should we call it? -- situation that seemed unlikely before the Dodgers opened camp: A surplus of left-handed relievers.
Since they spent most of last season using just one, J.P. Howell, this was hard to see coming. Yet with only 10 days remaining before their season opener, they still have three left-handed relievers on their active roster – Paco Rodriguez, Adam Liberatore and Howell – plus are looking hard at non-roster invitee David Huff.
Now there’s one thing to have a surplus of left-handed relievers and quite another to have a surplus of good ones. But the Dodgers may actually have quality here, and for whatever credence you give spring training stats, some very good ones.
Which would naturally attract the attention of other teams in need of left-handed help in the bullpen. One report already has the Mets eyeing the L.A. bullpen, apparently watching Howell, Rodriguez and Liberatore.
Of course, other teams can scout and “eye” all they want, but there really is precious little incentive for the Dodgers to move any of them.
Howell is a lock to make the 25-man roster. The other two have options left. The only real reason to make a move is if you truly are happy with your depth and can get something of value in return because you need to create room on the 40-man roster.
The Dodgers are expected to officially sign Cuban Hector Olivera soon, which will mean creating a spot on the 40-man. If they add Santos, as many expect, that’s two spots. If they add Huff, who’s a leading candidate to be a long man and possibly take Hyun-Jin Ryu’s spot in the rotation, that’s three spots they have to open up.
That’s a lot of moving parts in the coming days, particularly if they do not trade Andre Ethier or Alex Guerrero. And the way Guerrero is hitting, they should rethink that consideration.
Rodriguez and Liberatore have not allowed an earned run this spring; same with Daniel Coulombe, already sent down. Huff is 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his four appearances.
Everybody is looking at everyone else this time of spring, but it’s nice the Dodgers have this semi-problem because of improved roster depth.
Rodriguez is a former No. 2 draft pick who had an outstanding 2013 rookie season, seems back in form and headed for the 25-man. Liberatore will be 28 in May and has never appeared in a major-league game, so they would get little in return for him (despite posting a 1.66 ERA at triple-A last year with 86 strikeouts in 65 innings). It would be a shock if Howell was moved.
There’s little motivation to move any of them. Things can change quickly, of course, as the Dodgers’ new management showed us at the winter meetings. For now, they can listen and don’t have to do anything.