Another positional logjam is brewing with the Dodgers

There really is no such thing as having too much talent. It’s obviously better to have too much than not enough. But here we are about two weeks from the trade deadline, and there is another logjam coming for the Dodgers.

Here is a list of the infielders currently on the 40-man roster:

And guys who can play infield, but aren’t either listed as infielders or aren’t on the 40-man roster

We’ve seen logjams in recent years with the outfield. That resulted in Matt Kemp being traded for Yasmani Grandal (so good), but there is still a glut of outfielders on the roster. That has been a little easier to manager with injuries to Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig, as well as a resurgent (for awhile) Andre Ethier.

The Dodgers are about to have a lot of infielders. How they are going to make things work is an unenviable task for this front office. Let’s knock out the easy ones first.

  • Gonzalez is the Dodgers’ first baseman, with Turner and Scott Van Slyke as his backups. See? Easy.

That’s really it. With Olivera due in Los Angeles sometime before September, something is going to have to happen. Olivera can play second- and third base, but he profiles much better at the hot corner. Turner is having another great season. So much so that the Dodgers traded Juan Uribe (.290/.351/.478, 1.5 WAR with the Braves). Luckily for the Dodgers, he doesn’t need to (nor should he) play every day. But that still leaves little playing time for the Dodgers’ $62.5 million man. Kendrick has been as advertised at second base, even if his defense is lagging a bit compared to recent years (which Mike broke down last month). I doubt Olivera steals much of Kendrick’s playing time.

So, if Olivera doesn’t have consistent time at second- or third base, how is that going to work? The answer is: I don’t know.

Even if the Dodgers find a way to trade Guerrero, he of almost no trade value, that doesn’t mean a whole lot because he’s been playing mostly left field (hasn’t played third since May 24). Maybe Olivera goes out to left? That’s quite unappealing, considering there are (admittedly quieter) concerns about his throwing elbow. Also, Crawford will be back before too long, so that doesn’t make much sense, either.

Here are the rest of season projections for Olivera, Kendrick and Turner:

Olivera .260 .297 .378 .296 0.2
Kendrick .284 .333 .410 .323 1.2
Turner .285 .345 .435 .341 1.6

As you can see, Turner projects to be more valuable than Kendrick, but not by much. Olivera is almost replacement-level for the rest of the season, but that data could fluctuate rather easily as he doesn’t have any MLB stats from which to draw.  This doesn’t even factor in Callaspo (who, despite what you may think about him, has been better than expected for the Dodgers) or Hernandez, who is likely to get the short draw and head back to Triple-A when the big-money guys get healthy.

The Dodgers aren’t going to keep Olivera in the minors. There’s no reason for them to. He’s 30 years old and can contribute, but it’s hard to see him getting more than 2-3 starts per week. Maybe that’s all he’ll need to be effective (ala Guerrero when he was hot). We won’t know until the time comes.

And then there’s the shortstop situation. Rollins is having the worst season of his career on the field, but he’s been quite the addition to the clubhouse, based on everything we have (and haven’t) heard. Seager is knocking on the door, almost literally, to the Dodgers’ clubhouse. But I’m still skeptical this front office would bring up Seager and bench Rollins.

If you bench Rollins, you have a 1-position player on the bench who isn’t a catcher. That isn’t a great use of the limited bench space — two of your five (or six, if you’re lucky) bench spots are occupied by guys who can play just one position. Now, Rollins could probably handle second base adequately, but he has all of one-third of an inning played at the position in his 16-year career. No matter how good Seager has been, I just don’t see him getting recalled while Rollins is still in the picture. Rollins could get traded, but that seems quite unlikely.

Hernandez is the Dodgers’ primary backup at short, but if he goes to Triple-A (which I don’t think should happen but will), that responsibility falls to Turner. While he’s probably OK for a game, I wouldn’t want him playing there multiple times a week. I detailed the situation a little further in a June 19 post. Plus, he’s a great defender a third base. That, coupled with his likely below-average defense at shortstop just made the left side of the Dodgers’ infield a little more vulnerable. Torreyes, who is at Double-A, is 22 and performing relatively well, might be the best option to backup Rollins (defensively). I only mention him because he’s on the 40-man roster.

It’s a different conundrum than second- and third base, but the solution is the same: I don’t know what to do. While Rollins would probably be OK with being benched (as weird as it sounds), his roster spot is too valuable to be a shortstop-only backup. The Dodgers could gain some offense with Seager at shortstop, but they’d definitely lose something defensively, as expecting league-average shortstop defense from a 21-year-old that big is unrealistic.

Because of the logjams in the infield and outfield, I’d be really surprised if the Dodgers made a move for any hitter before July 31. The only ways that happen are if there are injuries or Puig is somehow involved. One is more likely than the other … you figure out which one I’m referring to.

Much like was Ned Colletti’s dilemma the previous few years, Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and Co., have to figure out the best way for things to work. They’re much smarter than me, so I’m sure they have some plan. It’ll be interesting to see it play out.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. 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.