The Dodgers Actually Need An Outfielder, Believe It Or Not

I know you think this is about Yasiel Puig, and it’s not entirely not about Yasiel Puig. I’m not really sure what to think about how his activities in Miami affect his standing, because A) we’ll probably never know all the details, and B) I’m not sure whether this makes it more likely he’d be traded (if they’re truly fed up with him) or less likely (because his value would obviously be at an all-time low).

But while that’s obviously a new wrinkle, the fact is that the Dodger outfield is in a weird place these days, and was before whatever any of this Puig business. I sort of went through this back in advance of NLDS Game 5, but for a team that’s long had “too many outfielders,” well, they don’t have enough outfielders.

I’m higher on Carl Crawford than most anyone, and yet even I can’t ignore the fact that he’ll turn 35 next summer and is coming off a poor year. Enrique Hernandez, while a very useful bench piece due to his versatility, isn’t a plus defensively in center and may not be able to hit righties. Joc Pederson, until he proves otherwise, may not even be guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster. Andre Ethier is nearly 34 and while he’s coming off the best year of his career, that’s partially because he’s only a platoon outfielder right now. Would you believe Scott Van Slyke will be 30 next summer — and just slugged .383? Puig, well, he’s fantastically talented, but a bigger question than ever, both on and off the field.

All of which is to say, it’s increasingly more difficult than ever to think that the 2016 outfield is simply going to be Ethier / Pederson / Puig, with Van Slyke and Hernandez spotting for the lefties and Crawford… somewhere. To add to that, if Puig is traded, suddenly you’re looking at a lefty overload in Crawford / Pederson / Ethier. (Which is partially why, even though Dustin made an intelligent and compelling case, I don’t see Jason Heyward as a likely option, unless multiple moves are made.)

That’s not to say that I know how this is going to get fixed. Justin Upton? Yoenis Cespedes? Alex Gordon? Maybe, though none seem particularly likely. Along with Heyward, that’s the big four in free agency; beyond them are lesser names like Marlon Byrd, Austin Jackson, Denard Span, and Will Venable. (Yes, Ben Zobrist exists, but even if he arrived, it’d likely be as a primary second baseman.) We all know that this front office loves to trade, so maybe they look toward someone like Marcell Ozuna (reportedly on the outs in Miami, and a player I’m a big fan of) or Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Or, you know, maybe this is the winter they finally blow up the sport and go get Giancarlo Stanton. (Spoiler: it is not.) But you know some change is coming, and it’s a weird place to be in: The Dodgers, long home to too many outfielders, need an outfielder.

About Mike Petriello

Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is