2019 Dodgers spring training preview: outfield


first_img How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire MOVE THEY COULD MAKEAs long as Bryce Harper remains unsigned, the Dodgers’ outfield picture could change. They have been linked with the free-agent outfielder as far back as August when they reportedly put in a waiver claim and tried to work out a trade with the Washington Nationals. But the Dodgers do not appear willing to tie a $300 million rock to their payroll for the next eight to 10 years. More possible – the Dodgers could trade Pederson, relieving some of the left-handed logjam in their outfield and trimming another $5 million (depending on the return) from a payroll that is bumping up against the competitive-balance tax.Related Articles Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season As the Dodgers head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 13, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with their roster by position groups. Today, the outfield (Previously, the starting rotation, bullpen and infield):2018 RECAPThe Dodgers’ embrace of platooning and nightly pursuit of favorable matchups was most evident in last year’s outfield. Eight players started at least five games in the Dodgers’ outfield. Three of them (Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez) also started at least 48 times at an infield position. In-game “line changes” based on the handed-ness of the opposing pitcher were a frequent occurrence in the second half of the season and into the postseason. Matt Kemp carried the load offensively in the first half of the season, earning an All-Star start for his comeback season with the Dodgers. Joc Pederson posted a career-high in batting average (.248) and gained more than 100 points on his OPS over the previous season, playing almost exclusively against right-handed pitching. A super-utility player, Hernandez was one of the Dodgers’ most productive hitters over the final two months of the season – a .349 average and .976 OPS over his final 45 games. Bellinger played an outstanding center field when Max Muncy’s emergence bumped him into the outfield on a frequent basis.HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOWAfter years of starring in trade rumors, Yasiel Puig was finally dealt. Kemp went to Cincinnati with him. A.J. Pollock was signed as a free agent, giving some right-handed balance to an outfield group that leans heavily to the left (Bellinger, Pederson, Alex Verdugo, Andrew Toles). If he avoids the injury bug that has limited him in four of the past five seasons, Pollock figures to be an every-day presence in center field. Bellinger will likely see more time in right field. Left field remains open to another platoon rotation.THE NEXT LAYERIn two full seasons at Triple-A, Verdugo has batted .321 with an .842 OPS. He has nothing left to prove at that level but still faces a difficult time finding playing time in a crowded big-league picture. His name has figured in trade talks on a number of fronts this offseason. Toles has a different challenge – regaining the momentum he had before a significant knee injury in early 2017. He made the Opening Day roster that year and started 19 times before injuring his knee in early May. He returned to action in 2018 but a hamstring injury put a big hole in his season. He eventually regained his footing, batting .306 in 71 games at OKC. Like Verdugo, however, Toles will have to fight for playing time. Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco last_img

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