Spring Training Scenarios: Outfield

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Exhibition season for the Dodgers finally begins on Wednesday when the boys in blue will take on their Camelback Ranch neighbor, the Chicago White Sox at 12:05 PM in the Cactus League opener. So far we still don’t know exactly what the 2015 Dodgers will look like.

Some positions are locked up, but a lot of the roster is still a relative unknown. Center field is still up in the air, and the bullpen has a hodge podge of relievers at camp ready to battle for seven open spots. We do know that the starting rotation will consist of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu, and newly acquired right handers Brandon McCarthy, and Brett Anderson. The infield appears to be locked in with Adrian Gonzalez at first base, and Juan Uribe at third base. Newly acquired veterans Jimmy Rollins, and Howie Kendrick are ready to man the middle infield. Switch-hitting Yasmani Grandal will share the catching duties with holdover A.J. Ellis.

The outfield remains far from resolved. Even after the trade that sent Matt Kemp to the Padres for Grandal and two pitchers, the Dodgers still have too many outfielders. The Dodgers still have six outfielders contending for five roster spots.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier. Chris Heisey, and Scott Van Slyke will be competing for playing time this spring. The club is preparing to move Puig back to right field where they feel his strong arm plays better. With Carl Crawford locked into a corner outfield position, that leaves center field up for grabs between top prospect Pederson, and veterans Ethier and Heisey.

The Dodgers acquired Heisey from the Reds this winter in the trade that sent Cincinnati minor league hurler Matt Magill. Most people expect Pederson to outright win the starting center field job, with everyone else competing for the job in left field.

I have a hard time believing that the Dodgers are going to trade for Heisey, sign him to a major league deal and then just release him once spring training is over. More than likely, Heisey will be on the bench. This all depends on whether Pederson grabs the center field job like everyone is expecting him to do. Keeping in mind that Heisey has just 93 games of experience in center field. So what happens if Pederson busts?

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  • If Pederson doesn’t impress during spring training, the Dodgers could send back to triple-A to start the season. That doesn’t mean we won’t see him back up with the big club soon, but the Dodgers might end up doing that if they feel he isn’t ready. Here are the possibilities……..

    Likely to happen

    1. Pederson makes the opening day roster as the starting center fielder…..which means…..
    2. Puig goes back to right field, Crawford or Ethier get the left field job. Heisey makes the club off the bench.
    3. Scott Van Slyke is designated for assignment.

    Unlikely to happen

    1. Pederson makes the opening day roster as the starting center fielder……..
    2. Puig goes back to right field, Crawford plays left field. Hesiey to bench.
    3. Ethier is traded
    4. Scott Van Slyke avoids the axe

    Somewhat likely to happen

    1. Pederson busts. Dodgers send him to triple-A Oklahoma to start the season
    2. Puig stays in center field
    3. Crawford stays in left field
    4. Ethier returns to right field
    5. Scott Van Slyke and Chris Heisey on the bench

    Somewhat unlikely to happen

    1. Pederson buts, gets sent to triple-A
    2. Puig moves to right
    3. Crawford stays in left
    4. Ethier is the center fielder
    5. Van Slyke and Heisey on the bench

    Very unlikely to happen

    1. Pederson makes the opening day roster, wins starting center field job
    2. Puig moves to right field
    3. Crawford and Ethier platoon in left field
    4. Heisey and Van Slyke make the club on the bench
    5. The Dodgers go with just one backup middle infielder on the bench
    6. As a result of D. Darwin Barney is designated for assignment

    If the Dodgers do decide to go with just one middle infielder on the bench, (which would be Justin Turner), then Pederson can make the club and nobody else has to be DFA’d or cut from the roster. This is assuming that nobody gets hurt. Although, that’s another scenario…..

    Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

    Very likely to happen

    1. Pederson makes the club, and one of the other outfielders get hurt somehow.
    2. Nobody has to be cut
    3. The Dodgers get to delay the decision for another few weeks
    4. The club milks it for as long as possible

    Somebody is probably going to have to get cut. There just isn’t enough room for everyone. I haven’t even gotten into sorting out the bullpen yet. God help me when I do. Anyways, when Ned Colletti was the GM, we could pretty much predict what the roster was going to look like. In those days the club would never cut a major leaguer who was out of options. The club always kept the team controlled players on the major league roster, and the players with options would be sent down, regardless of talent, experience, or history.

    However the new Dodger brain trust has shown that they operate much differently. They have very little sentimentality. They’ll cut anyone regardless of how long they’ve been a Dodger, or whether they have options or not.

    Does this mean bubble guys that may not have a spot like Darwin Barney, Scott van Slyke, or Alex Guerrero will be cut? Will they end up trading Ethier? Can Carl Crawford go an entire spring without getting hurt? I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out. This is why spring training is so much fun. The scenarios are almost endless.

    What do you think the Dodger outfield will look like in 2015? What’s your outfield scenario?

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