The Los Angeles Dodgers, coming off a 106-win season, still have an embarrassment of riches entering 2022 despite losing core players like Corey Seager, Max Scherzer, and (no one wants to mention it!) Clayton Kershaw from last year’s group.
Counterpoint? Having the second-biggest pile of riches in their own division won’t comfort any Dodgers fan, and LA was edged out in 2021’s NL West race by the 107-win San Francisco Giants.
Therefore, even without a lockout-driven free agency freeze, there’d be plenty of work to be done at the margins of the Dodgers roster to keep things trim and tight for the 2022 stretch run.
Let’s also be clear about one thing: we all deserve a season in 2022. We’ve been through a lot. Far too much for leadership to torpedo this thing before it begins.
Of the three players mentioned in the list below, though, one deserves some more seasoning at Triple-A, one might be the first casualty when the Dodgers make a big signing (and that’s ok!), and one probably shouldn’t sniff this clubhouse again for numerous reasons.
Perhaps most importantly … this Dodgers 40-man roster is not finished whatsoever. There are miles to go before Andrew Friedman sleeps, and when that time comes, an additional three-to-four stars (and depth pieces) will have arrived to ensure LA’s losing trajectory doesn’t begin several seasons too early.
That means it’s far from a stretch to imply that a few guys at the fringes will already be gone when camp resumes, and that they didn’t exactly merit another look in 2022. It’s a numbers game.
These 3 Dodgers shouldn’t return to LA for 2022 MLB season
3. Luke Raley
Maybe on the 40-man, definitely not on the 26-man (and likely not as the first line of defense/wave of call-ups, either).
Sorry, Luke Raley. We’re just not sure how fully your power profile translates past Triple-A yet.
Raley, re-acquired from the Minnesota Twins in the complex final iteration of the Mookie Betts/Brusdar Graterol semi-cohesive swap, hit .294 with a .393 OBP in minor-league action in 2021 — an impressive profile, but one that comes with the caveat that he played in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League environment.
At the moment, Raley profiles as a classic Quad-A slugger playing in a crowded Dodgers outfield. Though AJ Pollock and Cody Bellinger may not be long for this franchise, in the grand scheme of things, rest assured that Los Angeles will be shopping for higher-profile talent to replace them if and when the time comes.
Raley’s only shot at garnering consistent playing time in 2022 and beyond comes from nudging higher-profile prospects like Zach McKinstry out of the way first, as well as proven major-league contributors like Matt Beaty and the recovering Edwin Rios.
Outside of the overstuffed bullpen, the final outfield depth pieces on the 40-man will likely be the first place the Dodgers look to clear room when the time comes, as evidenced by DJ Peters galloping to Texas last year. Raley’s spot on the bubble is unfortunately not secure.
And speaking of that bullpen…