Pair of ex-Dodgers outfielders switching positions in bold bid to return to MLB

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

Baseball players changing positions throughout their career isn't exactly unusual. The Dodgers themselves will be permanently moving Mookie Betts from the outfield to second base in 2024, and brand new Hall of Famer Joe Mauer made a mid-career move from catcher to first, just to name a few instances.

However, it is still mostly unheard of that position players become pitchers, and vice versa. It's why we delight in the novel occasions when position players are brought to the mound in a pinch — Anthony Rizzo facing Freddie Freeman, for example — and in the even rarer ones when pitchers play the field. Even in the age of Shohei Ohtani, players who can both hit and pitch at a major league level are exceedingly rare.

However, former Dodgers postseason hero Charlie Culberson is attempting to write a new chapter for himself as a pitcher after 11 years in the major leagues as a utility player. He'll head into spring training with the Braves next month with the intention of getting a few innings in as a pitcher.

Ex-Dodgers Charlie Culberson, DJ Peters attempting to convert to pitching with the Braves

Culberson signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in 2015, with an invite to spring training in 2016, and he made the major league roster when an injury sidelined Howie Kendrick. He went back and forth between Triple-A and the major league team that year and spent most of 2017 in Triple-A before being called up again in September. Over 15 games, he only hit .154/.267/.231, but he made the NLCS and World Series rosters after Corey Seager got hurt. Culberson proceeded to dominate pitchers in the postseason. Over 18 plate appearances in both series, he hit .528/.509/1.009 with two doubles, a triple, and a home run.

Despite the postseason heroics, he was traded to the Braves at the end of the calendar year, and he did manage to put up his best numbers over a good number of games for them in 2018 (.270/.326/.466 over 113 games). However, he backslid as a hitter starting in 2019 and has bounced between a few organizations since 2020.

He has seen just over seven major league innings as a pitcher, and has made some appearances on the mound in Triple-A, featuring a fastball that clocked in at 93.1 MPH last year. If he does manage to show out in spring training and the Braves give him a shot at a bullpen role, it'll be fun to watch despite the fact that he's playing for the Braves. Culberson is attempt to break a mold here, and it should be easy to root for anyone who tries to innovate a little in a very old game.

And, speaking of the same innovation, Culberson is coincidentally not the only former Dodger eyeing the same transition this season. DJ Peters, a 6'5" outfielder with a hose for an arm, is attempting the same feat of strength after flaming out with both the Rangers and Tigers. Based on the video footage of Peters' arsenal, he has a legitimate shot to succeed.

Best of luck to both players -- Culberson is attempting to reach a big-league service benchmark with the Braves, and deserves every opportunity. But if the Dodgers are picking between one or the other at any point, Peters' power arm appears to have translated nicely to the mound.