Dodgers' lineup just added final piece to Dave Roberts' flexible puzzle

Division Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two
Division Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

Andrew Friedman made a move this week that made Dodgers fans very happy, as they brought back former Los Angeles utilityman Kiké Hernández on a surprising whim. The move followed a trade between the Dodgers and Minnesota Twins that sent recently acquired Manuel Margot to the Twins for minor league SS Noah Miller, which created space for Hernandez on the 40-man roster.

With Los Angeles already considered one of the deepest teams in baseball, adding a player who has proven he can be a consistent bat off the bench and play several positions only further helps things. Manager Dave Roberts can look to platoon many players off his bench in Hernández, long-time Dodger Chris Taylor and veteran infielder Miguel Rojas.

The Dodgers bench is strong in having a good veteran presence, as well as some younger players who are competing for a roster spot this spring. Last season, Miguel Rojas returned to the organization he debuted with in 2014 and was quickly thrust into the starting shortstop role after Gavin Lux’s injury at the start of Spring Training. Rojas has shown he is a reliable bench piece, with his above-average defense and a solid bat that will not necessarily be relied upon with this loaded Dodgers lineup.

Utilityman Chris Taylor is a familiar face for Dodgers fans coming into his eighth full season in LA. Taylor will be a huge contributor, even though he will not be an everyday starter because he will give the Dodgers position flexibility when they inevitably must deal with injuries. There’s a chance Miguel Vargas breaks camp with the Dodgers, as Dave Roberts has said in the past that he expects to rely on Vargas’ bat at some point in the season. With the trade of lefty Michael Busch, Vargas is the closest bat the Dodgers have to major league-ready below the surface, though he struggled to perform in limited big league time last season.

Dodgers Lineup Flexibility Improves With Kiké Hernández Signing

Hernández has the opportunity to be one of the more underrated signings of the 2024 offseason, with his positional flexibility and consistent production. As Jason Heyward is expected to get the bulk of the action in right field, Dave Roberts could use Hernández as a platoon option against lefties, which was originally expected to be Margot’s role. Also, as Mookie Betts gets set for his first full season at second base, Hernández will be able to spell Betts in some games, as well as help Lux’s injury management after his lost season in 2023. Hernández will be huge in filling gaps on rest days for regular starters, and will be a late-game option off the bench for speed and defense.

During the upcoming season, the Dodgers will have a little more certainty in their outfield, as Teoscar Hernández is expected to join James Outman and Heyward by getting most of the starts. The Dodgers could use Taylor and Hernández as a right-handed bat when an opposing lefty is on the mound. With Outman coming off a solid rookie season and Hernández being a proven run-producer, the outfield will be a source of production at the bottom of the order.

As LA goes into one of the most anticipated seasons of all time, there is much more to the lineup than just star power at the top. With positional versatility and veteran experience, Dodgers fans should look for increased production from the bottom of the order and bench players performing in their roles.