Coming into the 2014 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers outfield was once again an unsettled position group. Matt Kemp was still recovering from offseason surgery, but figured to return and take claim of center field.
As he did in 2013, Carl Crawford was platooning in left field as manager Don Mattingly shuffled his outfielders largely dependent on matchups. Although the situation led to moments of frustration for Crawford, he ultimately maintained his cool and said his goal was helping the team win.
Crawford began to emerge as the regular starter in left field before a sprained ankle forced him to the disabled list. Upon returning, Mattingly stuck Crawford back in left field despite the outfielder’s struggles to get back in the swing of things.
Eventually, Crawford turned the corner and rewarded his manager’s confidence as he steadily improved at the plate with the consistent playing time. Crawford finished the season batting .300, with eight home runs and 46 RBIs.
A strong steppingstone for Crawford and his tenure in Los Angeles occurred during the height of the outfield drama. Mattingly was switching outfielders on a consistent basis and none of the players were content with what was going on.
Crawford turned his frustration into motivation while also clarifying on his perspective. At that point, the left fielder expressed his desire and focus is to help the city of Los Angeles win a World Series and that he was willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that feat, even if it meant setting his desire to play everyday aside.
Crawford was inserted back into the starting lineup on a regular basis and turned his season around to become a consistent outfielder for the Dodgers. Another positive moment for Crawford came early in the season when he hit a walk-off RBI double against the Detroit Tigers.
Although president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman, downplayed the surplus of outfielders being an issue, the widespread belief is the Dodgers will look to move one of Crawford or Ethier.
Given the large contracts both Crawford and Ethier are signed to, moving them would presumably require the Dodgers to pay a significant amount of their remaining salary. Assuming Crawford is not traded, he likely will again have the upper hand over Ethier for the starting job in left field.