Who plays shortstop for the Dodgers in 2015?

Now that Hanley Ramirez has signed to play left field (oy) in Boston, the Dodgers have a massive, gaping hole at shortstop (and in the lineup). One could argue that the hole at short is greater than the one behind the plate.

There are a couple internal options to fill the void for 2015 – Erisbel Arruebarrena and Miguel Rojas. But let’s be real. Arruebarrena is coming of a less-than-impressive debut season that included a massive brawl in Triple-A and questions about his attitude and bat. Rojas is a perfect backup defensive infielder, not an everyday player (34 wRC+).

Sure, the Dodgers might have internal options on paper, but there’s not a chance in hell Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi hand over shortstop to one of these guys. Arruebarrena is being paid like a starter, but that was done by Ned Colletti. Friedman and Zaidi aren’t nearly attached to him as Colletti was. At this rate, he might be a trade chip (if he has any positive value) than a true shortstop option for 2015.

With Corey Seager on the way and seemingly set to stick at shortstop, the Dodgers would probably be looking for a short-term solution. If they did consider a long-term guy (and there are some listed below), Seager could be moved to third base. But make no mistake: Seager will not play a significant number of innings for the Dodgers in 2015. That time comes in 2016.

Free agents

Asdrubal Cabrera

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.241 .307 .387 97 8.0 1.7 -7 -10.5

Cabrera was traded midseason from Cleveland to Washington and performed relatively well. The thing is, Cabrera hasn’t been a shortstop for years (I mean, he played there in Cleveland, but only because he had to). When he went to the Nationals, he settled in at second base. Wherever he signs, second base is probably the best position for him, despite a -10 defensive runs saved and -5.3 UZR/150 with the Nats. He could put up above-average offensive numbers at either spot, but he could be at least passable, defensively, at second.

Stephen Drew

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.162 .237 .299 44 9.0 -1.1 4 8.1

Drew got a qualifying offer last year, rejected it and didn’t sign until midseason with the Red Sox. He was traded to the Yankees, but his 2014 was a lost cause the second he rejected the qualifying offer. He had a miserable season and could be a nice bounce-back, cheapish shortstop candidate. I’d be surprised if he signed a multiyear deal with any team. He’s a solid defender and has above-average offensive potential. He’d be a better option than Arruebarrena, but he’s also down the list of starting shortstop candidates due to age, injury concern and performance drop.

Jed Lowrie

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.249 .321 .355 93 9.0 1.8 -10 0.9

Lowrie is a bad defensive shortstop and can’t stay healthy. Those are two huge red flags right away. I’d like to see the Dodgers entertain signing him, but not as a starting shortstop. Rather, he’d be a super utility guy just like Justin Turner. He could spell Juan Uribe at third, step in at shortstop infrequently and give Dee Gordon a day off against touch left-handed pitchers. He won’t go for it, as he’ll get a starting infield job elsewhere, but he’d be a nice luxury to have. Two Turner-like players off the bench would make the Dodgers’ already top bench even better.

Trade targets

Elvis Andrus

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.263 .314 .333 79 6.7 1.3 -13 -4.4

I can’t understand why folks – the casual fan, I suppose – wants Andrus. He isn’t that good and his insane 8-year, $120 million deal doesn’t even go into effect until this season year. Even if the Dodgers were to trade Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier to get Andrus, they’d still be paying a light-hitting, decent-defending shortstop big money through the 2022 season. He had a miserable defensive season, but it could be an outlier as he’s been well above-average with the glove before 2014. Sure, Andrus could turn around, but moving from the Ballpark in Arlington to Dodger Stadium wouldn’t have a positive impact on his statistics.

Starlin Castro

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.292 .339 .439 115 6.2 2.9 -7 -3.4

Castro is one of the most interesting “maybe” available guys of the offseason. He’s an above-average offensive shortstop, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired. He isn’t Hanley on either side of the ball (great offensively, terrible defensively), but he’s a good and young (will be 25 next year) shortstop. The Cubs have Javier Baez and Addison Russell who could be the team’s shortstop for the next 10 years, so Castro could be moved without a lot of moaning and groaning from the fan base. He’s signed for $44 million over the next five years (with a $16 million option in 2020), so he’s affordable for the amount of production he provides. It’d cost a lot to get him, though.

Ian Desmond

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.255 .313 .430 108 7.1 4.1 2 0.1

Desmond reportedly rejected a 9-figure contract from the Nationals last offseason, which looks like a mistake. He has power (24 home runs in 2014), but he strikes out a ton. He’s an average defender at the position, which plays up because it’s shortstop. He might not be readily available, but would you be surprised if you saw the Nats trade him this winter?

Yunel Escobar

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.258 .324 .340 95 8.1 0.2 -24 -26.0

Nope. He’s not great offensively, he was worse than Hanley defensively (like Andrus, might be an outlier) and he has a bad reputation in clubhouses. Despite Friedman acquiring him while in Tampa Bay, Escobar has no place on the Dodgers.

Brad Miller

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.221 .288 .365 86 8.3 1.4 -3 2.0

Miller put up some good minor league numbers, but struggled in his second season in the majors. He isn’t Andrelton Simmons with the glove, but he’s a little better than league-average. He has potential offensively and is young, and it doesn’t seem Seattle is in a terrible rush to deal him. And no, he isn’t worth a guy like Matt Kemp.

Alexei Ramirez

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.273 .305 .408 97 3.7 3.3 -4 -0.7

The White Sox signed Adam LaRoche and appear to not be in rebuilding mode, which makes Ramirez’s reported availability a head-scratcher. But if he is, he’d be a nice addition. The wiry Cuban is coming off a solid season, but he also hasn’t been league-average offensively since 2008. He’s 33 years old, so there’s no guarantee he’s going to get back to that level. But, he doesn’t strike out a lot (nor does he walk a lot), so his on-base percentage is directly tied to his ability to put the bat on the ball. He’s also a solid defender, so he has a lot of value. He’d probably cost more in trade than the Dodgers would be willing to give up.

Jimmy Rollins

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.243 .323 .394 102 10.5 3.6 4 3.6

This is the guy atop my wishlist. Rollins, despite heading into his age-36 season, is still above-average on both sides of the ball. I looked at him as a trade possibility a couple weeks ago, but he shouldn’t cost that much in trade (I know, I know, Ruben Amaro, Jr.) and would step in as the team’s leadoff hitter – with or without Gordon on the roster. The Dodgers don’t need a long-term shortstop solution, so Rollins might just be the perfect player to acquire.

Troy Tulowitzki

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BB% WAR DRS UZR/150
.340 .432 .603 171 13.3 5.1 7 4.5

Not happening.

=====

Tulowitzki probably isn’t getting traded this winter, and definitely isn’t getting traded to the Dodgers. Some others on this list just don’t appeal to me as starting shortstops (Cabrera, Escobar, Lowrie, Miller) while others just don’t make sense (Andrus, Desmond).

My wishlist (of the players listed above):

  1. Rollins
  2. Castro
  3. Ramirez
  4. Drew
  5. Desmond
  6. Everyone else

Rollins is most likely, Castro would be a great — yet expensive — get and Drew might be the most realistic. If either Castro or Desmond were acquired, that would push Seager to third base. I don’t think the Dodgers want to do that, so I’d put money on Rollins, Ramirez or Drew to be starting at shortstop for the Dodgers on Opening Day 2015.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.