Dodgers' Jason Heyward signing seems to be start of misguided plan

His return is good news ... but the speculation attached to it isn't.
Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves
Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Dodgers' 40-man roster is full, which means if they want to upgrade, they're going to have to make a number of trades to clear space (since they tendered contracts to all 13 of their arbitration-eligible players). A lot of fans are still wondering what their course of action will be.

The move that filled the roster was Jason Heyward's return. He agreed to a one-year, $9 million contract for the 2024 season, a decision largely supported by the fanbase after the veteran experienced his best full year since 2015 in his one-year stint with the Dodgers.

Heyward's perfect for his role. A fourth outfielder whose lefty bat is utilized against right-handed pitching. His presence and reemergence was especially valuable last year because of the Dodgers' other roster deficiencies.

Gavin Lux's torn ACL and Miguel Vargas' demotion left the infield extremely thin, which forced Mookie Betts to log middle infield reps. In a pinch/emergency, that ended up being a savior of a plan. Betts' is so athletic that he can handle the rigors of second base and shortstop.

But as a long-term strategy? Absolutely not. Betts is arguably the best right fielder in the game and there seems to be no reason to move him if the Dodgers have the resources to add to their middle infield, which they certainly do. However, the buzz after the Heyward signing suggests that won't be the case.

Dodgers' Jason Heyward signing seems to be start of misguided plan

Is there any reason the Dodgers can't construct a better infield? A superstar player such as Betts shouldn't be deployed like Chris Taylor. Chris Taylor was signed to be Chris Taylor. Betts was given a 12-year contract to hold down the fort at his position of strength and deliver MVP-caliber seasons. He shouldn't be bounced around the diamond to satiate the needs of a front office that came up short.

Whether Betts wants to do this or not shouldn't really be part of the discussion, either. Baseball isn't a dangerous sport, but having your franchise player exposed to more demanding positions heading into his age-31 season cannot be regarded as a prudent decision.

This also essentially tells us the Dodgers are going to have two roving outfield positions between right field (split between Betts and Heyward) and left field (seriously, who is the full-time starter there?). The easy rebuttal that we'll shoot down is the fact the Dodgers are very good at mixing and matching. Dave Roberts is probably the best manager when it comes to spreading around playing time, constructing lineups, and ensuring he's maximizing all the potential that's been given to him.

But this isn't the way to do it. Betts is an all-world player that shouldn't be asked to pick up the slack because the front office allowed two star shortstops to leave. He shouldn't be asked to do more because the organization wants to spend less, for whatever reason.

The Heyward signing was a good one if he's the team's fourth outfielder. It was a bad one if it was specifically designed to use Betts elsewhere because of other personnel failures.