MLB's list of 'Dark Horses' to make Opening Day rosters is packed with former Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers' talent pipeline has kept them atop the NL West for the vast majority of the last decade, but that abundance of talent sometimes taketh away, too.
Over the years, the Dodgers have had more promising players on their 40-man than they've known what to do with, and have watched their ranks get plundered by the Rule 5 Draft, non-tenders and small shakeups to create room for top prospects.
According to MLB.com, it's a possibility that Dodgers fans will be seeing several familiar names rise through the ranks at spring training camps across Florida and Arizona this summer, as the league's beat writers have named several different ex-Dodgers as "dark horses" to make Opening Day rosters throughout the game.
The most recently-surrendered Dodger, Jacob Amaya, received his own Helium Alert with the Miami Marlins after coming over in the Miguel Rojas trade, and aggrieved slugger Edwin Ríos, now with the Cubs, also got mentioned.
MLB believes former Dodgers Jacob Amaya, Edwin Rios, Luke Raley, Gus Varland could make Opening Day rosters
Amaya, who'll play second and short at Marlins camp, has an outside shot at the final bench spot, according to MLB.com's Christina De Nicola. Worst-case scenario? Miami decides the bat doesn't match the above-average glove and he goes down for more seasoning, but the path to playing time is extremely clear.
Ríos, now with the Cubs and still sporting a minor-league option, is in the mix to play third base in Chicago, which is surprising considering their recent emphasis on defense at the position has forced Christopher Morel and Patrick Wisdom into purgatory. Still, Chicago -- as well as MLB's analysts -- believes in that bat, which has always stung the baseball when healthy.
Also meriting mentions? Ex-Dodger Luke Raley, now in Tampa Bay, an organization that makes its bones on maximizing Quad-A talent out of nowhere. Most frustratingly, Dodgers minor-league reliever Gus Varland, swiped by the Brewers in the Rule 5, is also noted as someone who may be carried through the spring and held on the Opening Day 26-man roster.
Varland couldn't be unlocked by LA's gurus, posting a 6.11 ERA in 2022 at Double-A Tulsa after a 5.71 ERA at the same location the year prior. He repeated a level, couldn't get it together in the most thorough pitching program in the game, and might stick with the Brewers? Fairly frustrating.
Want a silver lining, though, Dodgers fans? MLB.com also pegged Jason Heyward and his reworked swing to make LA's Opening Day roster. If that happens, the resulting frustration in Chicago and Atlanta might be worth a few Varlands and Amayas.