Today I’m starting a new series called “Dodgers Dilemma” in which we’re going to tackle some of the biggest decisions facing the Dodgers this off-season.
While many teams coming off a successful season will make only minor tweaks in the next couple of months, the Dodgers have their fair share of holes to fill with plenty of money to burn.
Today, we’ll tackle the outfield decision — what to do with four healthy outfielders and an up-and-coming youngster that’s nearly major-league ready. Over the next few weeks we’ll tackle the following dilemmas in this space (along with more decisions sure to come up as the off-season rumor mill heats up):
- Starting pitching: Price, Tanaka or Both?
- Fear the Beard, or Just Re-Sign Him?
But enough with the introductions, lets talk outfield.
The scene is simple: the Dodgers have Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig all signed for the very foreseeable future (Crawford — 2017, Ethier — 2018, Puig — 2018, Kemp — 2019). The other part of this equation is minor-leaguer Joc Pederson, who tore up Double-A this season and his continued his hot streak into the Venezuelan Winter League.
So what should the Dodgers do with seemingly five outfielders capable of starting on opening day?
To start let’s clarify: Yasiel Puig is going nowhere It has been circulated recently, however, that Ethier, Crawford and Kemp are all available for trade at the moment.
But does it make sense to trade one (or two) of the three available?
If the Dodgers stay-put and decide not to trade any of them, it means that when everyone is healthy, we can get used to an unhappy Andre Ethier/Carl Crawford platoon.
If the Dodgers trade one, it means Pederson begins the season in Triple-A (his first there) and would likely be called up should one of the starters go down with injury (imagine that).
If the Dodgers trade two of the three, it means Pederson is likely starting to begin the season, which is a bit frightening considering he’s never taken an MLB at-bat.
All three options listed above are within reason, however, I think the only thing that will determine which route the Dodgers go is what kind of haul they might be able to receive in return.
I think the Dodgers would love to trade either Crawford or Ethier — even eating some (okay, most) of their salary — but I don’t think they’re ready to do it unless they’re getting a mid-level prospect back (at worst). If that deal never materializes, I think the Dodgers wait it out and take their chances in hoping the market eventually picks back up.
But would they really trade both?
I really think they would. I don’t see Pederson as a major downgrade over either of them and he is much less expensive and would probably make the Dodgers better defensively.
Would the Dodgers really trade Kemp?
Again, I think there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t if the right deal were in place. Obviously, the price for Kemp is significantly higher than that of the other two, but coming off injuries, I’m not sure anyone in their right mind would offer the Dodgers enough to justify parting ways with the fan favorite.
The other thing that has allowed the Dodgers to consider trading Kemp is the ability of Ethier or Pederson to take over in center field if need be.
My personal guess is that the Dodgers find a trade partner (like the Mets or Mariners) to take Ethier off their hands and then they simply stay put. I think they like having a fourth outfielder in Pederson who’s capable of coming up should the injury bug bite again, while also giving him more time to develop in the minors.
Then again, if that’s how things play out, it’s not difficult to imagine the Dodgers end up in the same position this time next year. Or, of course, Pederson could be traded himself — as part of a package for, say, David Price? Chase Headley?
Ahh, the joys of the off-season guessing game.
In case you missed it-Dodgers Decline Mark Ellis And Chris Capuano Options