Dodgers’ pitcher-heavy 40-man roster isn’t a problem … yet

The Dodgers’ 40-man roster is full after the signing of Joe Blanton. And yet, it feels far from complete (because it isn’t).

There are a lot of pitchers on the 40-man roster. Of the 40 spots, 24 are occupied by pitchers. Guys like Brandon Beachy, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda and the aforementioned Blanton all got major league deals, while Frankie Montas was brought in via trade and Jharel Cotton and Ross Stripling were added to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. Some quality arms who are absolutely worthy of a 40-man roster spot.

Once the 60-day disabled list is brought back in March, the Dodgers will have a free spot on the 40-man because they’ll place Brandon McCarthy on it. I’m not sure anyone else will get the 60-day treatment — maybe Hyun-Jin Ryu or Beachy, but I doubt it.

Despite that, the distribution is disproportionate, considering the lack of infielders on the roster. I looked at Austin Barnes being a catcher-utility infielder-type player yesterday, and I still think that might be the best way to go. But if it isn’t, the Dodgers are going to need another infielder, which means a pitcher is likely on the way out.

They traded Ronald Torreyes last week (and he was subsequently designated for assignment by the Yankees), so I suppose there’s a chance they could bring him back. He has a solid glove and can play shortstop. They could turn to Erisbel Arruebarrena, but with the front office’s focus players with better character, that doesn’t seem too likely. Whoever is brought in to play the infield, a pitcher is going to be DFA’d, traded or outright released to make room for him. That infielder might not come until spring training in the form of a non-roster invitee who breaks camp with the team. But if I’m Josh Ravin or Ian Thomas (also Zach Lee and Stripling, to a lesser extent), I’m not exactly signing any long-term leases in Los Angeles or Oklahoma City.

As we saw last season, roster spots 39 and 40 were revolving doors in terms of players. There were a lot of guys shuffled through as the front office used those spots to manipulate the roster. I wouldn’t expect anything different this season. It’s akin to the front office buying lottery scratcher tickets hoping to match the three numbers for the $25,000 prize. They aren’t likely to win a million bucks playing this lottery, but they could come away with some nice pocket change.

It’s fine to have a lot of pitching depth — it’s definitely not a bad thing. But 60 percent of the 40-man roster being occupied by pitchers with a glaring deficiency in the infield is somewhat problematic. It’s a balance the front office is going to have to find, and with as much movement as there was last season, I’m sure it won’t be a static situation.

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.