How the Dodgers should handle their depth chart when Jason Heyward returns

2024 Seoul Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers
2024 Seoul Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers / Chung Sung-Jun/GettyImages

As veteran Jason Heyward continues to work his way back from injury, Dave Roberts should look forward to a surplus of outfield depth. The Dodgers have received production from unlikely sources like young outfielders Andy Pages and James Outman, with utility man Kiké Hernández continuing to prove his value on both the offensive and defensive end. Though Heyward will still need a considerable amount of time to return, the Dodgers have reliable bats to strengthen the bottom of the lineup in his absence.

Ranked as the Dodgers’ third-best prospect by, 23-year-old Andy Pages has shined with his ability to hit the ball hard for extra-base hits. The Cuban-born outfielder has immediately tallied 16 hits, with eight going for extra bases including three home runs. Pages has shown versatility to play multiple outfield positions, which will allow Dave Roberts to keep his bat in the lineup while trying to get other players reps as well. If Pages continues to produce at this level, it will be difficult for LA not to see him as a mainstay in the lineup for the next several years.

Kiké Hernández has transitioned into more of an everyday player since the Heyward injury, batting .364 in his last seven games.The utility man’s best game came this Monday in LA’s 8-4 victory over the reigning NL champion Arizona Diamondbacks, when he went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs while scoring a pair of his own. The invaluable skill set Hernández brings to the team by playing every infield and outfield position makes him a key piece in spelling starters who need days off, as well as providing flexibility if injuries arise throughout the year (such as Heyward's).

Kiké Hernández, Andy Pages will benefit from Jason Heyward's Dodgers absence

One of the longest-tenured Dodgers, Chris Taylor, has had a disastrous first month of the season, leaving question marks for Dave Roberts and the front office. Taylor is 3-for-49 in 21 games this season, while striking out 24 times and driving in only four runs over the stretch in March/April. Taylor does not have any options for the minor leagues remaining, which leaves Andrew Friedman in a tough position. Los Angeles could explore a situation like Jose Abreu and the Astros where Taylor would agree to go to the minors to try to fix his struggles, but that might take some convincing.

Despite being in desperate need of a Taylor replacement, Los Angeles could decide to ease Heyward in upon his return by not playing every day to keep him healthy, which would open at-bats for others. This includes Pages, who the Dodgers need in the lineup to bolster the production at the bottom of the order. LA would also be smart to keep him at the big-league level to keep his confidence up and gain experience against major leaguers. As Pages and Hernández continue to be reliable bats, Opening Day center fielder James Outman may eventually find himself out of an everyday job for a bit, too, after a tough start to the season.

Dave Roberts has several options to explore when the veteran outfielder returns to game action, all of which will allow him to rest key players to prepare for the postseason. This “good problem to have” has shown even more the excellent job Andrew Friedman and his staff did this offseason.