No. 1 on this list? It’s a tie between 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers legends Cole Hamels and Danny Duffy. Simply need to see more from those guys before we can make any sort of decision.
Only kidding. Those never-was Dodgers will certainly not be around whenever LA’s braintrust starts regrouping to bring down the 107-win Giants in the NL West next season.
Whenever that exit meeting comes, there will be plenty of important questions to ask.
How “blank” is our blank check for Max Scherzer going to be? Are we as comfortable with the starting pitching depth as we were midseason? Who can we part with in order to address that? How “covered” is center field moving forward? What about the utility role?
2021 seemed like a perfect storm for the Dodgers when Opening Day rolled around, and there’s still plenty of star power on this roster for 2022 and beyond, from Mookie Betts to the Turners, Justin and Trea. Max Muncy will be back. Will Smith will start the All-Star Game. There’s no reason to panic.
There are a number of names, though, that seemed like safe bets to be back next year as recently as a few months ago. It’s fair to say that number of sure things has decreased during a somewhat-troubling campaign.
We’re excluding Corey Seager and Kenley Jansen from the narrative here. The team knows who Jansen is, and can handle contract negotiations with their long-time closer from a position of mutual understanding. On the other hand, Los Angeles seems to have signaled their long-term preference for Turner over Seager; there’s nothing more Seager can do to “prove himself,” but it might be time to part ways regardless.
As for these three? The jury’s still out, even with an extensive set of data.
These 3 Dodgers haven’t earned their roster spot for 2022 yet.
3. AJ Pollock
Could the inconsistent AJ Pollock be one of the pieces jettisoned this offseason in order to add more pitching depth to the roster?
Wait, sorry, scratch “inconsistent” — Pollock is consistently the same person in both the regular and postseason annually. Unfortunately, that person is extremely different, based on the season.
Regular Season Pollock is a 3.0-WAR player with an OPS+ in the low-to-mid 130s. Postseason Pollock is a powerless .173 hitter in 81 at-bats and counting. Entering his age-34 season, how much longer do the Dodgers want to carry him, especially with plenty of potential replacements both on the field and in the pipeline?
All that being said, Pollock is a borderline All-Star and key contributor during the regular season. Could he be coveted by another contender in trade? What about a nearly-ready team hoping to make the leap — think the Toronto Blue Jays or Cleveland Guardians? Cleveland, in particular, has a lot of high-level pitching depth to plumb. Something to consider.