The Dodgers are leaving for Australia tonight and the opening day roster is starting to take shape. The team has announced the 30 players who will be travelling with the team.
In a prelude to announcing the travel roster, Justin Turner was added to the 40-man roster this morning. Turner was probably the best utility infielder candidate coming into the spring, and he secured his roster spot after hitting .355/.459/.452 in Arizona. He won’t live up to those lofty spring numbers during the regular season, but he looks to be a capable replacement to the Nick Punto sized hole on the roster. In order to clear room for Turner, the Dodgers moved Onelki Garcia to the 60 day disabled list. Garcia is recovering from knee and elbow surgeries and hasn’t pitched at all during the spring.
The Dodgers also optioned Miguel Olivo to the minors this morning. Olivo responded by requesting to be released. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but the Dodgers are perilously thin at catcher and Drew Butera is out of options. If Butera doesn’t make the 25 man roster after Australia and doesn’t clear waivers, the Dodgers are an injury away from J.C. Boscan being a major league catcher. This might take some time to resolve, since the Dodgers don’t necessarily need to release Olivo until his opt-out in June.
After this afternoon’s game, the Dodgers announced that Chone Figgins‘ contract was purchased, making his spot on the final roster official. In order to make room for Figgins on the 40-man roster, Javy Guerra was designated for assignment. Guerra has been on the chopping block for awhile, buried on the depth chart behind the Dodgers’ free agent reliever signings and better young talent. Guerra was out of options, and there wasn’t any chance of him making the majors. Guerra had a decent stint for the Dodgers, producing a 79 ERA-, 92 FIP-, and a 108 FIP- in 102.1 innings pitched. However, only 10.2 of these innings were last season. Given Guerra’s previous major league experience, it seems fairly unlikely that he’ll clear waivers. If the Dodgers trade Guerra, the most desirable target will probably be minor league catching depth.
Aside from the obvious starters and the players who were already discussed, the following players will travel to Australia: Mike Baxter, Seth Rosin, Jose Dominguez, Zach Lee, Red Patterson, Joc Pederson, Miguel Rojas, and Alex Guerrero.
Baxter is an extra reserve outfielder, which is necessary since Crawford will be on paternity leave. The extra roster spots allow the Dodgers to defer a final decision on Rosin’s fate. Dominguez and Withrow are slated to be in the bullpen for the trip, though both will likely be optioned once the roster is compressed for the stateside opener. Guerrero travelling with the team is a bit of a surprise, since he could have been optioned to the minors to get additional playing time in Arizona.
Zach Lee, Red Patterson, Joc Pederson, and Miguel Rojas will be travelling as well. All four are non-roster players. Since the 40 man roster is full, it is doubtful that any of them will play outside of the exhibition game against team Australia. Either Lee or Patterson will start the game.
The roster rules for the Australia trip also allow the Dodgers to leave three roster players behind without putting them on the disabled list or designating them for assignment. As of now, six players are staying in Arizona. Dan Haren, Zack Greinke, and Brandon League will likely be the “exempt” players. Matt Kemp, Josh Beckett, and Chad Billingsley will likely be placed on the disabled list. Disabled list assignments will be retroactive to March 19th, so players on the 15-day DL are eligible to return on April 3rd.
To recap, this is how the overall roster stands:
Starting Position Players (8): Ellis, Gonzalez, Gordon, Ramirez, Uribe, Puig, Ethier, Van Slyke
Reserve position players (6): Federowicz, Butera, Turner, Figgins, Baxter, Guerrero
Starting pitchers (3): Kershaw, Ryu, Maholm
Bullpen (9): Jansen, Wilson, Wright, Perez, Rodriguez, Howell, Withrow, Rosin, Dominguez
Also on plane (4): Patterson, Lee, Rojas, Pederson
Likely Exempt (3): Haren, Greinke, League
Likely DL (3): Beckett, Kemp, Billingsley
Paternity (1): Crawford