It’s hard to project anything three years out (especially with everything going on now), but this exercise is a fun one. It shows who’s in the pipeline and how the Dodgers might be planning things out for the future.
Let’s look back at what I predicted for 2020.
- Catcher: Yasmani Grandal
- First Base: Cody Bellinger
- Second Base: Logan Forsythe
- Third Base: Justin Turner
- Shortstop: Corey Seager
- Left Field: Trayce Thompson
- Center Field: Joc Pederson
- Right Field: `Alex Verdugo
Not bad, but not great, either. Bellinger, Pederson, Seager and Turner would all be in the lineup, but there are two really big whiffs in Forsythe and Thompson (I bought into the hype).
Player ages for the 2023 season will be in parenthesis. This exercise also does not take into account potential trades or free agent signings from outside the organization. I know it isn’t terribly realistic to think the Dodgers won’t venture outside the org for talent, but this is not that kind of post.
Diego Cartaya (21): Should be, at least, in Double-A by this time.
Keibert Ruiz (24): Depending how things go, he should have established himself as a big leaguer.
Will Smith (28): Will be right in the middle of his prime.
2023 Catcher: Smith
Smith’s debut was impressive, even if he had a bit of a slow finish. With Ruiz taking a bit of a step back, the primary job should be Smith’s for the taking. Cartaya might ultimately be the best of the trio, but I’m not sure he ousts Smith as the starter at such a young age.
Matt Beaty (30): Likely a quality bench bat who’s about to hit arbitration.
Michael Busch (25): Best defensive position might be 1B, but might be more valuable elsewhere.
Cody Bellinger (27): Final year of arbitration, might be at another position.
Max Muncy (32): $13.5 million option for 2023 that will likely be picked up.
Edwin Rios (27): Like Beaty, probably a quality bench guy going into final pre-arb year.
2023 First Baseman: Muncy
Muncy has proven he’s the real deal, and the Dodgers have him locked up for the next 3-4 years. As long as he doesn’t crater, that option is an easy decison for LA to make.
Michael Busch (25): Should have made the MLB by this time; could be a ROY contender.
Omar Estevez (25): If he can stay healthy and continue improving, he has a chance to snag this job.
Gavin Lux (25): The obvious choice, if he isn’t at another position.
Devin Mann (26): If the DJ LeMahieu comp pans out, could be a sleeper here.
Zach McKinstry (28): Might be best as a super utility guy, but has a chance.
2023 Second Baseman: Busch
I’m tipping my hand here with what I think will happen at shortstop, but Busch might be the best non-Lux bat in the system and as long as he play even a halfway decent second base, the job should be his.
Alex De Jesus (21): Probably a little too early, but there’s a lot to dream on here.
Kody Hoese (25): Most power potential of the lot, should have debuted by now.
Corey Seager (29): Free agent after 2021, so there’s a chance he’s elsewhere by now.
Justin Turner (38): Hard to see a guy — even Turner — in his late-30s being a full-timer.
Miguel Vargas (23): My guy! Think everything is aligning for this.
2023 Third Baseman: Vargas
Vargas already has an advanced feel for hitting and untapped raw power. By 2023, he should have figured out how to get to that power, as well as showing he can handle the hot corner defensively. Good thing here is, the Dodgers have a ton of options to fill third base.
Jacob Amaya (24): Different player than the other three; glove-first, good eye, solid contact numbers.
Alex De Jesus (21): Probably moves off SS, but could surprise going forward.
Gavin Lux (25): If he’s as good as everyone says, this is his job to lose.
Corey Seager (29): Probably gets a big-time free-agent deal after 2021, provided he’s healthy.
2023 Shortstop: Lux
Lux’s bat would play plenty well at second base, but it’d profile even better at shortstop. With Seager’s future with the team in question after 2021, the Dodgers could pivot to Lux, who should be in his final year of pre-arbitration or in his first year of arbitration.
Michael Busch (25): Already installed at 2B, but could be in LF if he doesn’t work out defensively.
Joc Pederson (31): Free agent after 2020, so will be enjoying the third year of a big pay day in LA or somewhere else.
Andy Pages (22): Super high ceiling. Next two years will determine if he’s legit.
DJ Peters (26): Probably a better bench or 2nd-division guy, but the power and athleticism are undeniable.
Chris Taylor (32): Free agent after 2021, will either be a super utility guy for a 1st-division team or a starter on a 2nd-division team.
2023 Left Fielder: Pages
Going out on a limb here, but I’m not sure Pederson is in the Dodgers’ future plans. A.J. Pollock will be a free agent after a probable disappointing Dodger career. Taylor will hopefully still be with the team, but probably not as the primary left fielder. Pages has a ton of potential and installing him in left field would be a way for the Dodgers to spend big elsewhere.
Cody Bellinger (27): No-brainer here on the eve of a gigantic pay day.
Andy Pages (22): Fits better in a corner, but the bat plays anywhere.
Luis Rodriguez (20): Early for him, but some think he has the highest ceiling in the entire org.
2023 Center Fielder: Bellinger
Bellinger will be heading into his final year of team control (assuming no extension) and ready for a life-changing contract. He’s plenty athletic to handle center field for many years. Even if he loses a little range, a shift to right field could be in order. He could also go back to first base and be a gold glover there.
Mookie Betts (30): Obviously depends on if the Dodgers re-sign the superstar.
Andy Pages (22): His best position, could get a shot if Betts leaves.
DJ Peters (26): Bench bat, but is a profile right fielder.
2023 Right Fielder: Betts
The Dodgers didn’t trade for Betts just to let him walk after the season — if there is one. I’m not overly concerned about them re-signing/extending him because of the talent in the pipeline. And if you look at the rest of the projected lineup, there’s plenty of room for his and Bellinger’s mega contracts.
I know some may not be as high on Busch, Pages or Vargas as I am, but the 1-6 in this projected lineup — even in 2023 — should be among the best. If even one of Busch, Pages or Vargas pan out, it’ll be that much better/deeper.
Next Up : Projected 2023 Pitching Staff