Dodgers look pretty much the same, which isn’t bad
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Dodgers left baseball’s winter meetings Thursday with almost the same team as last season.
They didn’t trade Matt Kemp. They didn’t trade for David Price. They didn’t sign Juan Uribe or anyone else who could start at third base. Their bullpen remains an arm or two short.
Their only addition over the four days was a 25-year-old right-hander with no major league experience, Seth Rosin, who was acquired from the New York Mets in exchange for cash. Rosin was the Mets’ selection in the Rule 5 draft Thursday.
But there is no reason for concern.
When healthy, the Dodgers were one of the best teams in baseball last season. The front-line players from that team are all returning and the Dodgers will be favorites to repeat as champions of the National League West.
They have infield and bullpen positions to fill, but still have time. Nearly two months before players are due to report for spring training, this is how the Dodgers roster looks:
Catcher: A.J. Ellis will start again after drawing praise for his preparation and game calling.
First base: Adrian Gonzalez was the team’s most consistent hitter last season. He is expected to remain in the middle of the batting order for the foreseeable future.
Second base: Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero has never played in the major leagues and the Dodgers aren’t certain he will be on their opening-day roster. Guerrero is playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic and could be in Arizona next month for early instruction. The Dodgers remain interested in free agent Mark Ellis, who looks as if he can still be an everyday player and might not want to be a stopgap until Guerrero is ready.
Third base: The Dodgers would prefer to sign Uribe, a free agent whose options might be limited. The Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox were rumored to be possible landing spots for him, but neither team is interested in him, according to media reports. He could return to the Dodgers on a short-term deal. If the Dodgers don’t get Uribe, Hanley Ramirez might move over from shortstop.
Shortstop: When he’s in the lineup, Ramirez is often the Dodgers’ best player. The best-case scenario for the Dodgers might be for Guerrero to show them he could play shortstop, which would allow them to move Ramirez to third base. Ramirez told the Dodgers he would switch to third base, but insisted he not be moved back and forth.
Outfield: Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford will compete for playing time — if they are healthy at the same time. The entire quartet was available for only two games last season.
Bench: Tim Federowicz is backup catcher. The Dodgers have to replace utility men Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker, who played larger than expected roles last season. One candidate for such a role is Brendan Harris, who will be in camp on a minor league contract. Dee Gordon played center field in winter ball and his increased versatility could help him make the team.
Rotation: The Dodgers’ starting pitching figures to be among the best in baseball, as it was last season. The Dodgers’ top three — Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu — matches up against anyone else’s best. Dan Haren is expected to be the No. 4 or 5 starter. Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett are recovering from major arm surgeries, so the Dodgers don’t know what to expect of them. The Dodgers could also still acquire Price from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Bullpen: With Kenley Jansen at closer and Brian Wilson re-signing to be his setup man, the Dodgers like what they have at the back of their bullpen. Left-hander Paco Rodriguez will try to recover from a nightmarish September. Hard-throwing Chris Withrow was a pleasant surprise as a rookie. The Dodgers would still like to add a left-hander and right-hander capable of pitching in the late innings, as well as a long reliever. Rosin could factor into the bullpen. Rosin started 23 games last season for the Philadelphia Phillies’ triple-A affiliate and was 9-6 with a 4.33 earned-run average. If Rosin doesn’t remain on the Dodgers’ major league roster, he has to be offered back to the Phillies at half of the $50,000 the Mets paid when selecting him.
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