Positional flexibility is crucial in today's MLB, and in recent years, the Dodgers' left fielder has often been ... whoever's available. Chris Taylor has found himself out by the Small Wall more often than he probably expected -- and, on nights when he's not roaming the outfield, he flips over to short or second.
That's what Dodgers GM Brandon Gomes apparently has in mind for two rookies who couldn't quite find their sea legs in 2023 in Michael Busch and Miguel Vargas.
According to Gomes' press availability Wednesday, the Dodgers might attempt to convert both players into occasional corner outfielders, depending on how the offseason wraps.
Our take? It would probably be a better idea to make this a last resort rather than plot other moves around the unifying theory that anybody can play left field. Neither Busch nor Vargas hit enough to be viable in their 2023 cameos, and adding new positions to their repertoires might not increase offensive output.
Dodgers could move Michael Busch, Miguel Vargas to outfield (in worst-case scenario?)
Hey, not to be the downer here, but perhaps this was just lip service to help boost the trade value of both men?
Neither player got a completely fair shake in '23. Vargas, primarily a third baseman in the minors and the supposed heir apparent to Justin Turner, didn't get a shot at the position when Turner departed for Boston after the 2022 season. Instead, he was installed at second base, while Max Muncy moved over to third. Who knows if the new position clouded his approach at the plate, but regardless of the reasoning, Vargas hit .195 with a .672 OPS in 81 games and didn't factor into the Dodgers' postseason plans, held at Triple-A after the All-Star break.
Meanwhile, Busch needs to hit or get off the pot in 2024. His future hangs in the balance. He's done all the mashing he possibly could in the high minors (1.049 Triple-A OPS with 27 bombs and 90 RBI), but hit .167 in 72 MLB at-bats in an all-too-brief 2023 cameo. Adding some positional flexibility might be the key to more playing time for Busch -- or it's all over for him in Hollywood already, and he needs to seek refuge elsewhere.
Either way, both the Dodgers and this pair of current Quad-A players have to hope the team's offseason plan doesn't boil down to, "Uh, stick the kinds in left I guess?"