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Dodgers Dugout: Who will play left field for the Dodgers?

Dodgers Dugout: Who will play left field for the Dodgers?
Kiké Hernandez (Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and thanks to all of you who came out to the event with Joe Davis on Monday in South Pasadena. And apologies to those who had to be turned away after we reached capacity.

Who's going to play left?

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Spring training starts soon (pitchers and catchers have their first workout on Feb. 14) and the Dodgers appear set at almost every position:

C-Austin Barnes or Yasmani Grandal

1B-Cody Bellinger

2B-Logan Forsythe

3B-Justin Turner

SS-Corey Seager

LF-?

CF-Chris Taylor

RF-Yasiel Puig

The big hole, of course, is left field. This is nothing new, as the Dodgers had 12 different people play that position last season. Who's going to play there this year? Let's look at the candidates.

Kiké Hernandez

Last season: .215/.308/.421/91 OPS+/1.4 WAR

Hernandez played every position except catcher and pitcher last season. That versatility makes it difficult for him to be the everyday starter at any one position. He played 28 games in left field last season. He did hit .270/.367/.579 against lefties, so he'd be fine as part of a platoon in left.

Matt Kemp

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Last season: .276/.318/.463/103 OPS+/-1.4 WAR

How can a guy with 23 doubles and 19 homers have a negative WAR? Because he is one of the worst defensive players in all of baseball. The runs he costs a team on defense counteracts his offense. Plus, he lost his speed a while ago and led the NL by grounding in to 25 double plays. With the premium the Dodgers place on defense, his poor play leads to all the speculation that there is little chance he will open the season with the Dodgers.

Joc Pederson

Last season: .212/.331/.407/95 OPS+/-0.4 WAR

Another guy with a negative WAR. Pederson was sent down for a while last season, but returned in September and played well in the postseason, hitting .333 with three homers in the World Series. His defense also regressed last season, as he appeared more tentative in the field. He will be given every chance to win the job in spring training and he remains a favorite with many fans who believe his cheerleading on the bench more than makes up for his poor play.

Trayce Thompson

Last season: .122/.218/.265/28 OPS+/- 0.3 WAR

His career fell off a cliff last season, and he is the least likely of these candidates to open the season with the team. He hit only .212 in the minors. Unless a bunch of people get injured, I just don't see a path for him to reach "opening day starter in left field" status.

Andrew Toles

Last season: .271/.314/.458/101 OPS+/0.5 WAR

Toles hurt his knee early in the season and played only 31 games. He gives the Dodgers speed and athleticism at the top of the lineup, but hasn't faced live pitching in almost a year. He could grab the job with an amazing spring training, but right now I'd say he would start the season in the minors to get consistent at-bats, rejoining the team during the season.

Alex Verdugo

Last season: .174/.240/.304/43 OPS+/-0.4 WAR

Don't get too concerned about those stats, because he played in only 15 games. He hit .314/.389/.436 in triple-A, which is even more exceptional when you consider he was only 21 in a league where the average age is 26. He is heading into his age 22 season. Which other Dodgers broke out in their age 22 season? Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger. So keep an eye on Verdugo.

So, who's going to start the season in left? I predict a platoon of Hernandez and Pederson, with Toles and Verdugo waiting to step in if one of them falters. I would expect they all get playing time in left during the season.

Non-roster invitees

The Dodgers announced their list of non-roster invitees to spring training. Non-roster invitees are usually either young prospects not on the 40-man roster or aging veterans hoping to make the team.

Here is the full list of players:

Pitchers:

LHP Manny Banuelos

RHP Joe Broussard

RHP Daniel Corcino

RHP C.C. Lee

RHP Mark Lowe

LHP Brian Moran

RHP Zach Neal

RHP Yaisel Sierra

LHP/RHP Pat Venditte

Catchers:

Keibert Ruiz

Will Smith

Shawn Zarraga

Infielders:

Matt Beaty

Drew Jackson

Max Muncy

Jake Peter

Edwin Rios

Donovan Solano

Outfielders:

Yusniel Diaz

D.J. Peters

Henry Ramos

Travis Taijeron

The greatest of all time

Today is the final day for you to send me your list of the 10 greatest Dodgers of all time. Anyone who had a Dodgers connection, Los Angeles or Brooklyn, is eligible, including managers, announcers and front-office people.

You have until midnight Pacific time to vote. Email me your list of Dodgers you consider to be the 10 greatest. Please list them in order from 1 to 10. Points will be assigned based on their place in the ballot, with 12 points going to your No. 1 choice, 10 points for No. 2, eight points for No. 3, seven points for No. 4, all the way down to one point for No. 10.

Soon after balloting ends, I will count down the top 25 vote getters, starting with No. 25 and revealing one each newsletter until we reach No. 1.

In case you missed it

Dodgers still searching for Matt Kemp's new home.

Kenley Jansen says players may need to go on strike.

What does dynamic pricing mean? A seat that costs $33 one day could cost $80 the next.

And finally

A fun moment from last season. Watch it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.

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