Since the final out of Game 4 of the NLDS, the Los Angeles Dodgers and their off-season of questions began.
One of the biggest questions comes in the outfield, where the Dodgers have five capable starting outfielders and a top prospect that has outgrown the minor leagues. Manager Don Mattingly tried a few approaches early in the season before settling on Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford as the starters. Andre Ethier saw his role reduced to pinch-hitter and occasional starter, while Scott Van Slyke essentially platooned with Crawford against left-handers. Prospect Joc Pederson spent the season in Triple-A and earned a few starts once he was promoted in September.
So what will the Dodgers do?
The easy answer comes through trades and specifically trading Ethier. The veteran outfielder still has four years left on his extension. He is due $18 million the next two seasons and $17 million after that. Any deal involving Ethier would include the Dodgers eating a significant amount of money with little in return.
The other outfielder mentioned in a trade is Crawford. While Crawford was more productive than Ethier, he is owed $60 million over the next three seasons. Once again, any trade with Crawford means the Dodgers eat some money.
One outfielder that isn’t usually mentioned in trade talks is Scott Van Slyke. The 28-year-old played in 98 games last season and hit .297 with 11 home runs and 29 RBIs. He mostly started against left-handed pitchers and hit .315 with eight of his home runs against those pitchers.
Van Slyke has never been given the chance of an everyday role, and has carved himself a niche as a platoon player. His 162-game averages of .261 with 18 home runs and 50 RBIs would make him a serviceable starter on most teams. With the Dodgers, Van Slyke will never be more than a platoon guy barring injuries to others.
With that being said, the Dodgers could decide to take advantage of his value and trade the right-handed slugger this winter.
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