Dodgers most important Spring Training question that needs to be answered
The Los Angeles Dodgers head into Spring Training with a much different outlook than a year ago. In 2022, the Boys in Blue were the prohibitive favorites to win it all, creating conversations around the possibility of the team breaking the all-time wins record.
While still fielding a solid roster in 2023, expectations are not as high for the Dodgers. Several prominent names have left the roster, while other contending teams spent big to bolster their corps. For the first time in a long time, the Dodgers aren't the consensus favorite to win the World Series.
Los Angeles also has less of its roster figured out heading into Spring Training than previous years. There are several questions that need to be answered in Arizona when the games don't truly count, but one stands out above the rest.
The Dodgers need to figure out who is starting in the outfield during Spring Training.
One outfield spot is already locked down, and that is Mookie Betts in right field. Aside from that, there are some unknowns about the other two outfield spots that are going to have to be figured out during Spring Training.
Chris Taylor has to be favored to get one of the starting spots (likely left field) after the team signed Miguel Rojas. Rojas is serving as the veteran utility infielder, which in theory allows Taylor to commit more time to playing in the outfield.
Taylor is a big name and may seem like a great option, but he played pretty poorly last season. He will get the benefit of the doubt, but if he continues producing like he did last year, it will be a hard ask to make him an everyday starter. Taylor finished with a .677 OPS and a 35.2% strikeout rate last season. Not great.
Outside of Taylor, there is a trio of options for the Dodgers to consider. Trayce Thompson has revived his career, and could legitimately be an Opening Day starting centerfielder in 2023 after it looked like he would be out of the league.
While Thompson succeeded in a smaller role when he first came to the Dodgers, his production started to wane once he got more playing time, particularly in the playoffs. Thompson doesn't have a great track record, and has gotten red-hot for the Dodgers in the past, only to fall back down to earth.
Los Angeles seemingly recognizes this, and recently signed David Peralta as insurance in case Thompson struggles. It is not like Peralta has been all that great, though, as he has been a league-average hitter at best with bad defending in recent years.
The wild card of the outfield situation is James Outman. Outman tore the cover off of the ball in the minors last season, and has the tools to be an everyday center fielder. Outman may not have the qualifications, but there is a legitimate argument to be made that he is the most talented option.
Spring Training will prove whether or not that is truly the case. If Outman can continue his red-hot hitting at Camelback Ranch, then he very well could be the Dodgers' starting center fielder on Opening Day. If not, the team may go with the more boring option and call on a veteran to start.