Changes Are Coming To The 40-Man Roster

Whenever it is that Hector Olivera‘s paperwork gets finalized, he’s going to need to be added to the 40-man roster. Assuming that at least one recipient of a minor league deal makes the team on Opening Day — probably Sergio Santos, particularly with Kenley Jansen, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Brandon League all likely to start the year on the disabled list — he’s also going to need to be added to the roster. The Dodgers, currently, have a full 40-man roster. Maybe you can see where this is headed. Someone’s going to lose their job. Two someones, probably.

As best as I can tell, there’s seven options. Which means there are 33 not-options, listed here:

CA.J. Ellis, Yasmani Grandal, Austin Barnes
IFAdrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Uribe, Justin Turner
OFYasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Carl Crawford, Scott Van Slyke, Enrique Hernandez, Scott Schebler, Chris Heisey

SPClayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Ryu, Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Joe Wieland, Zach Lee, Chris Reed, Carlos Frias
RP — Jansen, J.P. Howell, Chris Hatcher, Joel Peralta, Paco Rodriguez, Yimi Garcia, Daniel Coulombe, Pedro Baez, Adam Liberatore

Are these guys all guaranteed to keep their spots on the 40-man (which, remember, is not the same thing as making the Opening Day roster)? No. Of course not. If we find out next week that Frias or Coulombe or Baez or someone has been sent to another team who can use them right now for an equally valuable player who doesn’t require a 40-man spot, that wouldn’t be shocking at all. These are just the players who seem sufficiently useful enough to avoid a DFA, or who have been acquired by the current administration in deals that required giving up at least something of value. Maybe Heisey, I guess? But not until Pederson proves himself, I’m thinking.

(Related: Promoting Coulombe last September so he could pitch 4.1 meaningless innings seemed bizarre at the time; now it’s just frustrating, handing him a 40-man spot he didn’t need.)

So who’s actually on the cutting block? From least likely to most likely..

Alex Guerrero

I mean, probably not. We’ve talked about this. He’s hitting well, his fielding is… well, maybe coming along well enough to be a bench piece. He’s included here mostly because everyone thinks Olivera makes him obsolete, but that’s a problem for a month from now, not Opening day.

Juan Nicasio

Also probably not. I’m still pretty excited by the idea that he could be a great starter-to-reliever conversion candidate, and that he’s got an 8/0 K/BB in seven spring innings is pretty fun. He’s also got a longer history of not being good, and I’m not going to pretend we live in a world where Juan Nicasio is guaranteed anything at all.

Dustin McGowan

McGowan signed a major league deal, which should guarantee him a spot, and it probably will. Remember, though, he was guaranteed only the minimum of $507,500 for signing, and he’ll get a roster bonus of $1 million for spending even one day on the active roster. It shows that the team at least considered the possibility that McGowan wouldn’t be among the players they take north (or, west, I guess), but the Jansen/League injuries probably retain him his spot.

Brandon League

Speaking of which, the sore-shouldered League is all but certainly going to start the year on the DL. Though he’s clearly overpaid, I’ve argued that he’s not entirely without value; after all, leading the NL in ground ball percentage has to be worth something.

But this injury, even if minor, is a problem. If he’s taking up a 40-man spot because he’s the last man out of your bullpen, fine. If he’s not taking up a 40-man spot because he’s on the 60-day DL like Brandon Beachy or Chris Withrow, that’s a different kind of fine. But if he’s eating up a 40-man spot and he’s not contributing, because he’s on the 15-day DL? That’s not great for him, particularly when this regime has shown no compunction about cutting older, expensive relievers. (Hi, Brian Wilson!) I don’t expect this to happen, but don’t count it out, either.

(Think a team can’t DFA an injured player? Think again. The Giants did exactly that with Marco Scutaro in January.)

Andre Ethier

Please. Of course finding a taker for Ethier would be a great solution. You know this. The team knows this. We’ve talked about it so many different times. It’s not going to happen, right up until the second it happens.

Mike Bolsinger

Brim did his best to make Bolsinger’s two-pitch arsenal seem interesting after the Dodgers rescued him from Arizona for “cash considerations,” but he’s always seemed to have been holding onto his 40-man spot by the slimmest of margins. It’s not a good sign, either, that he got into only two spring games with the big team before being included in one of the early rounds of cuts.

On the other hand, I guess he’s at least nominally starting pitching depth, and clearly this team needs that.

Darwin Barney

Bingo. Now we’re talking, because Barney has always seemed a bit of an odd fit on the roster. He may have made some sense as a late pickup last year given the fact that neither Dee Gordon nor Hanley Ramirez were elite defenders, but it was difficult to see him fitting on a roster with similar (and better) players Turner and Guerrero even before Olivera arrived. He always seemed destined for Triple-A given that he has options remaining; now, he’s my top choice for “gets DFA’d and hopefully sneaks through waivers, or if not, whatever” in a week.

Obviously, the timing of all this matters. We don’t know that Santos or another NRI will make the roster. (Though it seems likely, Santos’ opt-out isn’t until May 1, so it coulbd be put off.) We don’t know when Olivera is going to get finalized. It’s possible, if not even probable, that the front office has something clever up their sleeves. The only thing that seems certain is that in very short order, the 40-man roster is going to have a change or two coming. It always does, this time of year.

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