The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping to repeat as NL West Champs for the fifth-straight year in 2017. They have one of the league’s most talented rosters, so that should be easy for them. The hard part is progressing past the first round, as they have not made it to the World Series once in their run as NL West kings. The team has a ton of depth and prospects at every slot, so the embarrassment of riches makes for some tough decisions. Here are some guesses on their final 25-man roster
Catcher (2): Yasmani Grandal, Austin Barnes
Catcher is an easy choice. Grandal is the everyday starter, and Barnes is the only backup on their active roster at this point. Grandal was one of the Dodgers bit by the 2016 injury bug, playing in just 126 games last season.
First Baseman (1): Adrian Gonzalez
The Dodgers will carry just one dedicated first baseman on their 2017 roster. This is because Chase Utley (2B) and Scott Van Slyke (OF) can both play first base, which will free up some roster slots for the Dodgers.
Second Baseman (3): Logan Forsythe, Chase Utley, Kiké Hernandez
It’s odd to see a team carry this many second basemen, given they usually do not get injured and 2B/3B and 2B/SS super-utility players are a dime a dozen. In the Dodgers’ case, however, Utley is also the backup at first baseman, and Hernandez provides outfield depth. Ideally, neither plays more than a mop-up role at second.
Shortstop (1): Corey Seager
The Dodgers’ outfield injury woes leave them without a true backup to Seager. Not like they’ll need it. Seager is one of the league’s up-and-coming stars and is in no need of platooning or rest. He could conceivably start 162, though once Andre Ethier comes back they can break up the LF platoon and get Chris Taylor back into the majors to spell Seager from time-to-time.
Third Baseman (1): Justin Turner
Turner is the sole dedicated third baseman because the current de facto backup is starting second baseman, Logan Forsythe. Turner has enjoyed a career renaissance manning the hot corner for the Boys in Blue.
Outfield (5): Franklin Gutierrez, Andrew Toles, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke
With Andre Ethier shelved with a back issue, the left field slot will be a Guti & Toles platoon. Pederson will man center field and hope to put a full season together. Puig returns from exile and hopes to return to his form that made him one of the league’s up-and-coming stars. Van Slyke backs up the whole lot of them as well as first base.
Starting Pitcher (5): Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-jin Ryu
This is where things get interesting for the Los Angeles Dodgers. There is no doubt in Kershaw, Hill, and Maeda as one-two-three. The last two slots come down to Ryu, McCarthy, Alex Wood and Scott Kazmir. Kazmir’s fastball currently sits barely above the speed limit of Highway 5 and isn’t going to be ready for Opening Day. With Ryu and McCarthy making their way back from injury and without options, Wood is the odd man out. He’ll be up as soon as one of the others go down (that’s a when, not if).
Relief Pitchers (7): Grant Dayton, Josh Fields, Adam Liberatore, Sergio Romo, Ross Stripling, Julio Urias, Kenley Jansen (closer)
With Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez shelved, there is space in the bullpen for others. Dayton quietly had one of the best non-closer reliever seasons in baseball last year, and Fields and Liberatore were also good enough to ensure secured roles this year. Newcomer Sergio Romo will set up closer Kenley Jansen. Stripling and Urias will be long-inning guys for the Dodgers. The Dodgers will stretch out either in a pinch in case of an injury. Urias will end up in the rotation in the second half of the year. He’s young and the Dodgers will move him along slowly. Thus, he starts in the bullpen.
Injuries have left lots of question marks for the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers. This isn’t anything new for the squad, as their last few years have been riddled with injuries. While this is likely to be the starting 25-man roster, it is highly unlikely it ends this way. Luckily for the Dodgers, they built in positional redundancies around the whole squad. They may cycle through players, but they are likely NL West champs thanks to organizational depth.