It seems pretty much understood that at some point this off-season the Dodgers are going to trade one of their top four outfielders not named Yasiel Puig.
Understandably, that focus is generally on Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford, two expensive left-handed hitting outfielders on the wrong side of 30.
That would leave the survivor in left field, and presumably Matt Kemp in right and Puig in center.
Which would do nothing to clear room for prized prospect Joc Pederson, who is not going to be kept around to see spot time as a fourth outfielder. He’d be headed back to triple-A, which you have to assume would not thrill someone who just hit .303 there with 33 homers, 78 RBI and 30 stolen bases. At least he’d get a change of scenery, the team moving to Oklahoma City next season.
Pederson did not look ready for prime time during his brief time with the Dodgers in September (.143, no extra-base hits in 38 plate appearances). But you don’t want to put any more credence into such an initial, small sample size than you do in numbers generated in the high altitude of Albuquerque.
Right now it looks like Pederson, who will turn 23 in April, is looking at another season in the minors. Unless … the Dodgers trade two outfielders.
That would be an extremely difficult task for new Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and General Manager Farhan Zaidi, but doesn’t mean it can’t happen or that they won’t at least try.
Ridding themselves of expensive contracts owed older players appears to be in line with the new front office approach.
Kemp is owed $108 million over five years, Crawford $65 million over three and Ethier $56 million over three. Kemp may be the most prized bat, but he also has the most imposing contract. He seems the least likely to be dealt, and the least likely player they would want to move. They would have get a serious player back in return.
So if you’re imagining the Dodgers somehow deal two outfielders, Ethier and Crawford appear most likely. Which still could have an unpleasant ramification for Kemp.
The Dodgers are apparently in agreement that Pederson is their best defensive center fielder. So if he were on their 2015 starting lineup, it would probably be in center. Which means Puig goes back to right and Kemp to left.
And as you may recall, Kemp was not a happy puppy last season when moved to left for nearly two months. He found happiness in right, where he hit .314 with 16 homers and 52 RBI in 59 games.
The new regime is unlikely to discover a perfect scenario its first season on the job, which is not the same as saying it isn’t shaping one. And it just may include moving two outfielders.