The first round of September call-ups will happen later today (officially). A player, rightly, not in the group is Corey Seager. Last week, I looked at Julio Urias (and others) as potential September call-ups. Now, I’m looking at the possibility of Seager being recalled.
Seager, 21, is warming up in Triple-A at just the right time for the Oklahoma City Dodgers. In the month of August, Seager is hitting .295/.333/.459 with four home runs, six doubles and 36 hits. In the last 10 games, he has eight of his 11 extra base hits in the month. He’s hitting in the middle of the order for one of the minor’s best teams, but I’m not sure him coming up at all in September is the right move.
He’s ranked as the top prospect in baseball by many publications, but he hasn’t been flat-out dominant at Triple-A. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t project well, but it’d be a different story if Seager was slashing .300/.400/.500 at OKC. He has just a 103 wRC+ at the level, so he’s either still adjusting to advanced pitching or he’s bored (or both). Joc Pederson went through a similar “boredom” phase last year with Albuquerque. At least there was a spot to play Pederson (center field). The problem with bringing up Seager is there isn’t a clear place to play him.
Seager has played 94.4 percent of his career games at shortstop (357 of 378). Jimmy Rollins, despite his season-long struggle, is firmly entrenched as the team’s starting shortstop. Justin Turner, despite needing a day or two off per week, is the team’s everyday third baseman. Now, no one is expecting Seager to come up and start at either position everyday, but I don’t know what benefit there is to have him being a backup player for a week or two in the majors. He might get a handful of games, and while that would be a nice experience for him, the Dodgers are far from a sure-thing to win the division. Odds are, those games in which he’d play would be high-pressure games in the thick of a pennant race. Despite what Carlos Correa and Miguel Sano have done in Houston and Minnesota, there’s no guarantee Seager would have anywhere close to that kind of impact.
Sure, getting him some exposure to a pennant race and the MLB clubhouse could do some good going forward, but I wonder if it’s enough to keep another player off the roster.
Seager isn’t on the 40-man roster, and he doesn’t need to be added until next offseason. Putting him on means someone comes off (unless there’s a 60-day DL siutation). The easy choice is Alex Guerrero, who is just not good at baseball. But, what if the Dodgers designate Guerrero for assignment in favor of a guy like Urias or Jharel Cotton? That could very well happen. Andy Wilkins and Ronald Torreyes are options to be removed, but the front office thought highly enough of them to trade for both of them and keep them on the 40-man during their entire Dodger tenure. Wilkins hits for power and Torreyes is a middle infielder and turns 23 (tomorrow). I wouldn’t be so quick to jettison those two in favor of Seager in September for five games.
Enrique Hernandez‘s hamstring injury complicates things. He was placed on the disabled list Monday, meaning he’s down for at least two weeks. If nothing else, this improves the odds Seager gets the call. Hernandez played third base for the first time in 2015 on Sunday. He had just three career games at the position in the majors and 25 in the minors. While he could probably handle backup duties to Turner just fine, he’ll be down for a couple weeks. Austin Barnes, the Dodgers’ 3rd-string catcher, has minor-league experience at third base, so perhaps he’d be an option to backup Turner for a couple weeks.
If Seager comes up in 2015 and the Dodgers want to play the service time game (ala the Cubs and Kris Bryant this year), they’d have to keep him in the minors for a bit longer — perhaps the entire first month of the season. If the front office is OK with that, then sobeit.
But there are other factors when considering a Seager promotion. Peter Guber, a Dodger minority owner, is the majority owner of the OKC Dodgers. It behooves him and the organization for the Triple-A team to do well. There are a lot of quality players on that club — some who would easily be in the majors if they played in other organizations. While they’re going to lose some players later today, I don’t think the LA front office is going to gut the team right away. OKC’s season doesn’t end until Labor Day (Sept. 7). Assuming OKC makes a deep run into the playoffs and Seager sticks around for all the games, he might not be in Los Angeles until Sept. 23. The LA Dodgers would have 12 games remaining, including four in San Francisco against the Giants. You know Seager wouldn’t draw a start in those games, so you’re looking at eight starting opportunities in 12 games. I’m not sure the math adds up for Seager to get the call.
Here’s what Molly Knight has to say about the situation.
Dodger players I've talked to have seen what Conforto, Schwarber, Bryant, etc. have done for the Cubs and Mets. Want Seager ASAP.
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) August 31, 2015
Seager is probably better than a guy or two on the active roster, but there’s also no guarantee he wouldn’t run into a 2-for-20 in his first handful of games. And Mike tackled the second part about 2 1/2 months ago. Some of the stuff in the post is a little dated, but the point still stands: Just because other prospects have come up and had success doesn’t mean Seager will. Also, Seager doesn’t have a definitive role nor does have consistent playing time waiting — something all the other big-name prospects promoted earlier this season have and had.
I see a little value in bringing Seager up and wouldn’t be surprised if a move is made. I’m just not sure Seager in a limited look is better than anyone else on the roster. There is talk of Chase Utley trying out some third base. I’m not sure how well that will work as he doesn’t have the arm for the position and hasn’t played the position since 2002 in the minors. Jose Peraza could open up Hernandez to play some more third base, assuming he isn’t out too long with the hamstring injury. And if the Dodgers are considering adding a guy to the 40-man roster to be Turner’s backup at third base, Buck Britton could also be in the conversation (he attempted to say with a straight face).
This isn’t a terribly critical decision either way. They can’t go wrong with either move. I’m just not sure there’s enough value available to add Seager for the season’s final two weeks. Instead, he could go to instructs and get ready for the offseason. There’s a high probability Seager is the team’s starting shortstop going into 2016, so preparing him for that might be the best course of action.
If I had to guess, Seager gets the call (especially since Torreyes is in Triple-A to be act his potential replacement). I definitely wouldn’t be upset if it happened, I’m just not sure what to expect. I know I wouldn’t want to miss his first plate appearance, though.