Last week, I nearly gave former BtBS Managing Editor Neil Weinberg a heart attack when I shared a Dodgers’ Digest article on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pursuit of JD Martinez and Justin Wilson, without clearly stating that it was just a rumor. Once Neil had been revived, we ended up discussing in our Slack channel what would it take Los Angeles to win the Martinez sweepstakes and, more importantly, how it would affect their roster.*
* This discussion was held before the Arizona Diamondbacks traded for Martinez, of course.
First off, it’s no secret that the Dodgers have an enormous lead on their division and are a shoe-in for the playoffs. FanGraphs’s Playoff Odds currently have them at 100.0 percent to make the playoffs and 23.4 percent to win the World Series — which makes them the easy favorites. So what to do to increase those odds?
The current roster needs are slight, but Andrew Friedman could very well use an upgrade or two to solidify his roster for the postseason push. His wishlist should include a starting pitcher, some bullpen assistance, and a quality bat. So let’s trade for an outfielder.
Here’s the hitch: that’s easier said than done. Because the Dodgers already have such a strong roster, there are a lot of moving parts that need to be balanced if they want to make any improvements at all. So let’s play out how an acquisition might look.
The details of the trade are not important right now. OK, maybe we send Puig or Pederson away, or a top prospect and a couple of throw-ins. But let’s imagine what we’re getting in return is a valuable left fielder. Like Martinez, or to pick another Tigers outfielder who hasn’t been traded yet, Justin Upton.
So after some give and take, we got our left fielder. Currently at the position, the Dodgers could either write in überkind Cody Bellinger, Cinderella-story Chris Taylor, or super-utility player Enrique Hernandez. But with Adrian Gonzalez out with a back injury and an ever-declining bat, Bellinger could move to first base (the position he played throughout the minors), making room for Upton in left and keeping Taylor and Hernandez in their bench/utility role, rotating in alongside Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson.
Now we have a problem. We have to give somebody the boot to make room for Martinez. Our team discussed whether the trade package going to Detroit should include either Puig or Pederson. Given the stats, I’m more inclined to give them Pederson because of his poor bat, but Puig’s defense isn’t much better.
Puig, Pederson 2017 stats
So what if we don’t send them over, and make the trade using only minor league assets? The only feasible option at that point would be to DFA Adrian Gonzalez. But Gonzalez is to the Dodgers what Albert Pujols is to the Los Angeles Angels. His contributions extend beyond the field. DFAing Gonzalez feels like the right move but for sentimental (and PR reasons) it might not happen. (Though the A.J. Ellis trade from last season showed that this front office has the ability to be cold-blooded when necessary.) Maybe the compromise would be to give Gonzalez the Andre Ethier treatment and move him onto the 60-day DL.
What about Chase Utley? Difficult to say. He’s still a good second baseman, who can occassionally manage first. Plus, along with Gonzalez, they’re the only two veterans in the clubhouse. Maybe you could give up Logan Forsythe, but that hampers the flexibility of the infield.
Forsythe, Gonzalez, and Utley 2017 stats
It’s a fun exercise to think about. What would you do if you were running the Dodgers? It’s not easy, having so many plausible major leaguers that you don’t have room on your roster for even one more. Personally, I love Adrian Gonzalez but if I want to win now and make room for Upton (or another outfielder), well, it’s time to sashay away. But, as I’m wont to be, I could be wrong. That’s why I’ll leave you readers with this little poll: what would you do?
What would you do to make room for a new Dodgers outfielder?
This poll is closed
60-day DL Adrian Gonzalez
Trade Joc Pederson
Trade Yasiel Puig
DFA Chase Utley
Other more reasonable option (comment)
Martin Alonso writes for Beyond the Box Score and BP Bronx and is contantly geeking out over baseball and Star Wars. You can find him on Twitter at @martnar.