Just one calendar year ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bench faced plenty of uncertainty. There weren’t guarantees or presumed locks to make the team, thus the large amount of competition ensued during Spring Training.
The group ultimately consisted of Mike Baxter, Drew Butera, Chone Figgins, Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke to begin the season, but players like Erisbel Arruebarrena, Tim Federowicz and Miguel Rojas eventually saw a fair share of time on the active roster as well.
Fast forward to August and the Dodgers had baseball’s best bench in terms of WAR, as ranked by FanGraphs. This was largely due to Turner’s career year, but Rojas and Van Slyke also served as solid utility players.
The Dodgers brought back some familiar faces for the upcoming season and have also added a plethora of depth that can compete for roster spots. As we wait for April to arrive, let’s analyze some potential bench candidates for the 2015 season.
Players Who Should Make The Roster, But Likely Won’t:
Darwin Barney: – Acquired from the Chicago Cubs last July, Barney is widely-known as one of the best defensive infielders in baseball.
And while he isn’t regarded as being a prominent hitter, Barney slashed .303/.467/.424 last season, albeit it in a small sample size (45 plate appearances). In addition to Barney’s offensive surge, he provided elite defense as a late-inning defensive replacement for Dee Gordon.
That alone should be enough to make the Opening Day roster, but with Alex Guerrero’s uncertainty and Justin Turner’s presence, there likely won’t be room for him. Barney does have options remaining, so the Dodgers won’t potentially lose him should he be sent to the Minors.
Chris Heisey: Heisey is an interesting acquisition — and a surprising one to say the least. When the Dodgers acquired him last December, it sparked confusion as the already-crowded outfield picture got more congested. Heisey admitted to not being sure of the Dodgers’ intentions after being traded to Los Angeles, but was later told the club had a plan for him.
Over the duration of his career, Heisey has better splits against right-handed pitching compared to left-handed pitching (.739 OPS to .678 OPS), but he could potentially serve as a platoon partner with Joc Pederson in center field if needed.
In addition to his respectable offensive numbers, Heisey is also known as a plus-defender in center field and at the corners, making him a viable late-inning defensive replacement on days when he doesn’t start. Despite the Matt Kemp trade, there doesn’t appear to be room for Heisey on the active roster.
Unless Andre Ethier is traded or an outfielder gets injured, Heisey will likely have to start the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, just like Barney.
CONTINUE READING: Virtual Locks And Locks To Make The Roster